a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Of Mice and Men

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Of Mice and Men

SUMMARY: Mice in the kitchen, shoo, mice, shoo!

Rattus rattus vs mus musculus

Remember: I think rodents are cute. I don't like them in my house and will work to dispose of them but, frankly, I think they're cute. So I do not need men in my life to deal with rodents for me.

Except for The Rat Guy.

We finally seem to have licked the roof rat problem, thanks to the 3rd or 4th or 5th visit from The Rat Guy when he spent 2 hours on and under the roof patching teeny tiny nearly invisible holes the size of a quark. But apparently the rats were keeping the mice at bay, because for the last couple of months it has been mice mice mice everywhere, and I can assure you that they are not blind, or I'd consider running after them with a carving knife.

The dogs have never caught one, even when I can identify that there's one under the fridge and post the dogs there and chase the mouse out with a yardstick; much excitement ensues but not much catching types of activity--the dogs' first reaction is usually Ears up! Eyes open! Stand up straight! "OH!" By the time the frantic pouncing occurs, it's wayyyy too late.

I've been buying traps and traps and more traps and then there'll be a lull for a week or two and then the traps start filling up again. Garrrrgh. It's like they're reproducing like--er--mice. (Wikimouseia: "The gestation period is about 19–21 days, and they give birth to a litter of 3-14 young (average 6-8). One female can have some 5-10 litters per year.")

Close encounters of the mouse kind 1

A month ago, there was one under the sink constantly, rustling around, gnawing little holes in the trash bag, leaving its little mousie gifts all over the cabinet floor, vanishing when I'd sneak over and yank open the door.

One night, it was making quite a racket. I snuck over, flipped open the door, and there was silence. I closed the door, and moments later, huge amounts of rustling began again. Again, flipped open the door, and nothing. Close door. Rustling. Open door. I finally pulled out the sliding rack in which the garbage bag sits, and Lo! there was a poor little mousie looking up at me with bright eyes and wiggly nose and little front paws held up placatingly: Renter had tossed one of those impossible-to-rip chip bags into the trash and it had straightened itself out so that it became a tempting place for a mouse to get into but not to be able to climb out of again.

So now what? If I dumped it out for the dogs to catch, odds are that much excitement would ensue but not much catching types of activity.

I took him out to the front yard and let him go. (Even knowing that he'd probably end up in my house again.)
Tika explores the scene of the crime.

Mouse encounters of the 2nd kind

My dogs have their own heavy-duty expensive zip-up multipocket wide-mouth top-quality expensive gear bag made with soft yet strong nylon fabric that resists tears and abrasions and repels water (like this). Which I have converted to a place to store one ziplock full of dog food and a coupla bowls. Good use of resources.


I'd been keeping it in the car for a while to avoid having mice get into it in its usual garage-shelf storage spot. But we had a lull in mice a couple of weeks back, so it went back onto the shelf.

Packing for this last weekend, I peered at the mousetrap on the shelf--no sign of mice. Although there were a couple of pieces of dogfood loose on the shelf, which was odd and a little suspicious. I picked up the gear bag, figuring I ought to look at its various corners to see whether its soft yet strong nylon fabric had been gnawed into. The first side looked ok; I turned it around, and clinging to its multipocket strong yet soft side was a tiny gray mouse, feet spread and hanging on for dear mousey life as his perch rotated through the air, looking up at me. "OH!" I said. His little thought balloon said pretty much the same thing.

So now what?

I almost--almost!--grabbed him with my other hand. Fortunately the logical part of my brain ("this is not a hamster, it is a wild mouse, and it may bite") overrode the hindbrain ("mouse bad! must grab!") before I did so.

The dogs were in the house, so I couldn't very well release it to them.

While I stood there dumbfounded, turning the bag to get a better view, the mouse leaped off and skittered away under MUTT MVR. When I peered down, he was nowhere to be seen.

Yes, he (or they) had been slipping into the tiny space where the zipper isn't attached at the end so it can be a wide-mouth gear bag, and the zip-lock bags of food had been well moused.

What now indeed?

The Renter told me, when we got home Sunday night, that we definitely have mice in the house again. His theory is that the dogs might not actually catch the mice but that they intimidate them into mostly staying out. Sort of the block bullies. But when we're gone for a weekend, the meeces move in.

If I call The Rat Guy, all he can really do is put out more traps. Maybe he can dismantle the dishwasher and figure out where they're getting into the kitchen. But otherwise, I'm done with poison. And I can set traps. I guess it's time to go to the hardware store to get another few dozen traps. Let's see, how long have they been at it? A couple of months now? That could be (mumbles and calculates) a couple hundred mice. Better get to it.


  1. When you're done with your meeces, you could come deal with mine. Mine don't seem to be as thickly populated as yours at this point. :-)

  2. Oh, sure, I could come over and startle yours, too! Except that, at the rate things are going, I might never be done with mine.

  3. Im sorry, Id have to put out rat poison. Leave for the weekend,kill mice. Ugh! Im not sure I could handle mice and rats. Diana

  4. yikes. I'm sorry. Sucks. I've been killing the rats here and it isn't any easier. I'm like you, I don't like to kill them. But, I don't want them in my house! For mice I used to have these boxes that caught them live, then I would take a walk up the hill and let them loose. My husband said the mice would be back to the house before I was.

  5. Diana: Here's the things about poison:

    1) If they crawl off to die in someplace you can't get to them or can't find them (e.g., wall), you have to live with a godawful stink for a week or longer. Done that too many times.

    2) The Rat Guy and the packaging will tell you that, once the rodents have eaten the poison, it won't hurt anything that eats the rodents. Vet and wildlife organizations, who have to deal with poisoned pets and birds of prey, say that is SO not true.

    Vici: I've been reading about your exploits. If I had anywhere nearby to turn live mice loose where they wouldn't get into someone else's building, I'd do it, but I did it once and then realized that at the very least I had to drive half an hour and hike 20 minutes one way, and I just wasn't willing to do that every time I caught something.

  6. Know anyone with a good mouser cat you can borrow? I used to lend mine to my aunt for a few days and he would make quick work of her mouse problem. He would leave half-eaten mice and puked up mouse guts all over the place but she was a big picture sort of person and was o.k. with it.

  7. I was going to suggest a cat too but based on my felines they would be of no use whatsoever. If you can find a proven mouser though, that might do it?

  8. If only I could find one for rent. I guess I could ask on facebook whether anyone has a mouser they'd let me shut in my garage for a few days. I'm sure the dogs would really get into puked up mouse guts.