Monday, December 05, 2005

Musings: not even a mouse

Over the past several months I’ve had adventures of the rodent kind – in my house.

Now, I don’t mind wild animals as long as they remain in the wilds. But when they get into my house and chew on my wiring – well that’s just not good.

I’ll start at the start.

Every night I spend an hour or so reading, sitting on my couch enjoying a novel, or some Greek Mythology of a Science textbook. And a few months back I hear a scratching noise in the roof which would make it the second floor. And I’m thinking – hey, that sound must be coming from outside.

Oh how easily I can delude myself. This went unchecked for several days until I heard it again, but not only the scratching sound, but this time a scrambling chase as if many small rodents were playing tag.

I was chilled to the bone in horror.

My god, I thought, my house is a warren.

I searched the second floor for signs of chewing, feces or a small taped off soccer zone – mouse sized. But search as I might, I found nothing. Then it dawned on me. The noises were traveling from overtop of the garage. I would check it out immediately.

And I did. There is an access door from our bedroom into the space above the garage and I went in there with my flashlight to see what I could see. There is also a light in there and I pulled the cord to get a better view of my surroundings.

But no dice or mice did I see. The light was out. I made my way back to the bedroom and got a fresh bulb. It must be burned out I wagered - and lost. It was not the bulb, but the wiring to the bulb. The mice had chewed it through somewhere under the boards of the garage roof where I couldn’t see.

With my flashlight I did find mice poop and it looks just like black rice grains. And I found quite a lot actually. But then they can deposit over one hundred per mouse per day. So maybe it wasn’t so bad? Yah, right.

And the insulation where the boards ended was pulled apart and some of it was sitting on the boards. And some of the boxes of things we had stored up there looked defiled, and they were. A couple even had holes chewed in them. I was thinking there must be hundreds of the pests just crawling around up here. I set to work immediately.

I did what any sane home owner would do (burned the house down and claimed insurance – Just kidding!).

I got a trap. A big trap. In fact it’s called a “tin cat” and can hold up to twenty or so mice at one time. I would get them – every single one of them. But not in a cruel way – this trap is a live catch one. It has two entrances on spring loaded one way doors. Once in, they would never get out until I lifted the lid and released them. The lid of the one I bought was clear plastic so you can actually see inside if you have anything or the bait has been eaten.

And the best bait in all the world for mice – Peanut butter not cheese. Chunky or smooth makes no difference. Mice love this stuff.

On the first night of trying I bagged one furry friend and I got my first close-up detailed look at these wonderful little breeding machines brought over from Eastern Europe so many decades ago on sailing ships. Did you know they mature in nine months? That they can have 4 litters of offspring (like 5 to 10) in one year and if uncontrolled you will have an infestation in no time.

They have black eyes like tiny pearls, big ears which stick out and of course the trademark hairless tail. They are actually kind of cute; at least my daughter thinks so. But they can be very expensive pets to have running free in your house – like repairing wiring you can easily get to.

Did you know that their front teeth never stop growing and so they need to chew on things to keep them under control – things like your wiring. Oye.

I’ve lived in this house now for five years – and never knew of my rodent roommates until this spring. Yikes!

Well, I did manage to catch – so far at least – twelve of the furry fiends, but I know more exist up there my garage spaces. You have to keep moving the trap around because they don’t like to stray more than about ten feet from their nest unless they absolutely have to.

And now you are probably wondering what I did with the ones I caught? Well, you have to release them at least two kilometers from your house or they will find their way back without much problem.

So I take them very far away. I actually take them to work with me, and let them out near the huge fields close by.

I do feel somewhat sorry for them though – what with letting them off so close to all those rats.

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