Thursday, May 21, 2015
If you're an animal lover, you might want to skip today's entry. I like animals too. I like birds in the trees, dogs on my lap, cats if they'll sit still and let me pet them, and pigs in a 400-degree oven with a coating of Shake 'n' Bake. With all other animals, it depends on the circumstances.
Take mice, for instance. I have no trouble with mice as long as they're not in my house. Once they start pooping on the counter and nibbling on my doughnuts, all bets are off.
This latest infestation started last winter, while Stray Kitty was still around. I suspect the free food lying around is what drew the mice to the house, and even more free food and a warm place to ride out the winter drew them inside. Stray Kitty disappeared halfway through January. Evidence of mice, in the form of poop, showed up sporadically under the sink.
I tried setting traps. For some reason I couldn't get them to stay set. They kept going off in my hands. Given the choice, I opted to live with the mice. I could handle them better than a trap going off as I was trying to position it. A once-a-week sweeping under the sink and we co-existed peacefully.
Until about two months ago. That's when I found a mess of poop under the sink. Time to take serious action.
I tried the traps again and this time they worked. Or would have, if the mice had bothered with them. I experimented with home-made live traps. The mice ate well that week. Then came the morning I was watching TV and saw the little bastard creeping along the wall. Okay, we're done with the co-existence. No more Ms. Nice Girl.
I found where I think they were getting in—the pipes that go under the sink from under the mobile home—and plugged the holes. The mice kept coming. And coming. I started seeing them dart across the room while I was on the couch. I say "mice" even though I've only ever seen one at a time. But damn, he's fast. A little brown blur. I know you're not supposed to name them, but I started calling him the Flash. Once or twice the traps would go off, but never with anything in them. All it did was teach them to stay away from the traps. Welcome to my impromptu lab experiments in behavior modification.
Next I started finding poop in places other than under the sink … including in my bedroom. (I ate a banana and threw the peel in my bedroom trash can. I think he went in there to gnaw on it. I don't eat in the bedroom any more.) Then I found sawdust under the sink. Not content with the free room and board, he was starting to chew himself some extra exits in my cabinets. Okay, they've moved into destructive mode. All bets are now off.
It all came to a head Sunday morning, when I was cleaning under the sink (again). I heard a thump and a scurry. He was in there. I poked around but couldn't find him. Quick as a flash, remember? But now I had him trapped. Maybe I could end this. I opened one of the other cabinet doors, and he made a dash for freedom. All I got was a glimpse, but I felt his fur against my leg. Yeah, that'll get you wide awake early on a Sunday morning.
(For the record, I didn't scream. My voice is too low for screaming. I can't get into the shriller ranges. I can do a damn good yell, though. I imagine Cher has the same problem.)
Monday morning, I went to the hardware store and got commercial poison. Which the mice also ignored.
Time to call in the experts. I went through the Yellow Pages for the listings under "Pest Control." There was a place right here in Ephrata up the street from me. I drove over to check them out. The office was empty. They'd shut down. The next-nearest office of that particular franchise was headquartered in Mechanicsburg, about two hours away. Another place wanted $300 just to do a preliminary check. Thanks but no thanks.
Luckily I live in a small-town area. I was able to find a local, small-business guy. For a hundred bucks he came out to the house and scattered poison around. I could have done that myself for a fraction of the cost. However, the problem with commercial poisons (so the guy said) is that if the mice eat too little and don't die from it, they develop a tolerance which they can pass on to their multitudes of descendants. That which does not kill them makes them stronger.
Naturally, the poison Pest Guy uses is superior to the commercial brands. It works more slowly, but eventually it kills them. Provided they eat it, of course. He did show me how to get inside the stove, which is like the Holiday Inn for mice, and threw some poison blocks behind my furnace, where I suspect they're also getting in and out. If I can keep them from chewing on my cabinets, I might have a chance.
So now we wait. It takes a few days for the poison to take effect and start killing them. I'll give it a week and then start moving furniture and checking for little bloated bodies. As long as I don't find any in the dark with my bare feet, I should be fine.
And if this doesn't work … no idea. Suggestions are welcome. All I know is, this means I'll be doing housework more often than once every two months from now on. And I probably won't be watching Ratatoille for a while.