Mouse in the House Madness!

mouse

It began innocuously enough with my wife hurling the wet laundry all over the garage when she spotted a “huge rat” sprinting behind the washing machine.  Now I’m not a timid man, but I admit to loathing rats, spiders, and reality TV.

Mice, in themselves, are not threatening creatures, but rats . . . well, they carry rabies, live in sewers, and caused the Bubonic plague. I questioned my wife while she was packing and when her hyperventilating subsided, discerned the five-inch “rat” was actually just a mouse.  I almost wept in relief.

So my wife went to her mother’s and I went to the hardware store.  I looked at mousetraps; the kids suggested, quite strongly, that I be a humanitarian and just trap the mice and then release them into the wild. Good idea, God’s creatures and all that.

I put a few of these tunnel-like, plastic things in the garage, baiting them with unsalted peanut butter (I didn’t want them having strokes either).  These traps opened on one end and as the mouse entered, the trap would tip back, tilted by the rodent’s weight, and the front “gate” would slam shut.  It was ingenious.

The next morning, feeling like Daniel Boone, I inspected the traps.  All four traps had rodents in their translucent shells.  The kids and I giddily took them to the end of the street, flipped open the hatches, and waved good-bye to the harmless little guys. They were almost cute, even the unusual gray/black escapee, and my daughter pointed out that “they’re probably going to their families.” I agreed, feeling good inside.

The next day the traps were again full (it sounded like a family reunion in the garage), and shockingly, a mouse darted past the sofa.  They were now inside the house!

But we kept catching the varmints and my daughter, just learning her numbers, kept a tally. I bought more traps and placed some in the house.  Hearing noises above, I hoisted myself into the attic, put down half a dozen more of the “rodent-friendly” tunnels, and discovered a tiny beer can.

By the fourth day, after again emptying all the traps, my glee was shifting to concern.  We had caught and released 31 mice, all alive, limbs intact, and this “elimination” plan was making me uneasy.

The next day I did my Pied Piper thing, and watched, stunned, as one of the mice scrambled across the wood chips.  It was the mouse with the unusual gray/black markings from the first day!  He stopped, looked over his shoulder (do mice even have shoulders?), and I’m sure he smirked at me.

They were returning to our house! They were bringing their families!

And why not? No one suffered at our place. They could start a new life, raise a family in peace, and I’d even subsidize their meals with unsalted peanut butter.  My mice didn’t even have to worry about high blood pressure! The word was out and I knew the mice would expect frequent traveler points next.

So I bought a dozen snap traps. The ones with the metal bars that maim, crush, kill and basically, extend no sympathy.  My kids were now bored with this Save-a-Mouse concept and certainly didn’t want them in their bedrooms; they were now quite supportive of this new, permanent cleansing program.  They were also sick and tired of walking to the end of the street to deposit them.

It was war.

Man vs Mouse.

They had the numbers but I had the technology.  After three weeks the casualty rate stood at an amazing 114, and there was no abatement in sight.  I called for reinforcements, but the local animal/pest control companies would only come out for coyotes, termites, and sea otters.

I had never given mice their due respect.  Until now.  They were shrewd.  They were calculating and devious. If not for the allure of my attic, they would have been on some campaign trail.  But this is our attic I’m talking about!  Our attic that is very dark, crisscrossed with exposed, rusty nails and teeming not only with fat mice, but hordes of black widow spiders vying to make my wife one.  I had to save my family.

So I stepped into that black abyss, spreading Skippy peanut butter and laying traps, and rearranging my vertebrae from crawling into spaces that Bilbo Baggins would have balked at.  Then, with a truly inventive strike, a story popped up in the news about two people dying from hantavirus . . . the dreaded mouse dropping disease.  The little devils must have leaked the story to the media, probably through the Disney people, and I was terrified!  I didn’t go into the attic for two days, depressed and certain I already had the virus. But I strengthened my resolve, was tested for the virus, and fortunately, the results were negative.  I wept in relief.

Finding a new lease on life, I donned my work clothes: a work helmet, flannel shirt, jacket, sweatpants, two pairs of socks, work boots, heavy gloves, and a surgical mask.  Yeah, into the Valley of Death, etc., etc., I strode.

I laid more traps, the weather cooled, and then one day, my wife and I didn’t hear the pitter-patter of little feet above us.  It was over.  And I was weary. The final body count was 146. Man had prevailed. Well, prevailed with the aid of Mother Nature.

But I was concerned.  What about next year?  Would the mice be smarter? Would they bring reinforcements?  Would they have weapons next time?  Maybe develop a deadlier virus?

Was my attic to be their next theme park?

(rat trap image courtesy of Surachai/freedigitalphotos.net)

Mark Loper About Mark Loper

Mark Loper likes to write, lawn bowl and read books with small words and large print. He’s lived in Southern California for a long, long time and has been married even longer. He and his wife have two children that moved away from home as soon as they could. Mark has written advertising copy, columns for a variety of media, including the Orange County Register, and is currently working on turning his latest novel into a succession of tweets.

Mark Loper About Mark Loper

Mark Loper likes to write, lawn bowl and read books with small words and large print. He’s lived in Southern California for a long, long time and has been married even longer. He and his wife have two children that moved away from home as soon as they could. Mark has written advertising copy, columns for a variety of media, including the Orange County Register, and is currently working on turning his latest novel into a succession of tweets.

  • Kyle T.

    Nicely played. I used to have the same household problems too.

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