Friday, January 14, 2011

we need a hawk

Political pillow talk at my house has always been a mix of reasonable centrist attitudes and extreme views on select social issues. Lately Mr. D and I have been engaged in heated debate over gun control--I'll leave you guessing as to which end of the gridlock I've parked myself. Slippery slope debate reigns on one side of the gridlock (because of course, if we take away semiautomatic weapons, all the single shot rifles and shotguns used for hunting will be targeted next by reasonable gun control laws). Stunning logic reigns on the other end of the gridlock (if someone's going to shoot you or mug you or assault you, do you really think you'll have time to dig around in your purse or holster to grab your pistol?). In the midst of our verbal sparring, Mr. D and I are conspirators in a bloody war against rodents in our garage.

As of late summer we had a marvelous cat who kept the mice population down to tolerable levels (read: zero mice in our yard or in our garage). Then she died and we got a dog whose idea of a good time in our garage is emptying the recycle bin one item at a time, and dragging the empty yogurt containers and old newspapers to various spots around the yard. Imagine a big, hairy, panting two-year-old making a mess by emptying all of your kitchen cupboards onto the floor and you get the idea. Jax is totally worthless when it comes to finding mice or killing them.

Since the cat died, the mice have returned. Tiny holes have been torn in the birdseed bags, bitty droppings line the edges of the floor, my auto mechanic found a giant nest on the engine block of the Momvan last week. It's two steps up from the garage to our house. We have to defend our turf.

I pondered the merits of poison, but I want proof of dead varmints, and I worry Jax will eat the poison since he eats everything else he can fit in his mouth. I opted for several packages of mouse traps.

You know you've got a rodent infestation when you retrieve your first corpse within 30 minutes of setting your first trap.

Reader, have you ever set a mouse trap? It's tricky business. First you have to bait it, then you have to hold the snapping bar down with your thumb and lock it into place using the most sensitive point of balance in the known universe. If you don't get the trap set just so, it snaps shut and flies out of your hands. Or, in my case, snaps shut on your finger with force equivalent to Vin Diesel slamming a car door.

Because setting a mouse trap requires the same level of caution and careful concentration as transporting uranium, the slightest jostle while moving the trap to the garage floor where a mouse can find it will result in more crushed fingers and a barrage of loud, inventive cursing.

Funny enough, I don't want to trap the mice so much as decimate them. The only good mouse is a dead mouse and we've thrown about a dozen of their tiny carcasses into the garbage. Of all those dead mice, I'm only responsible for one because I've given up on setting the traps. My fingers are bruised and my nerves are totally frayed--a 50 cent wood-and-metal mechanism has me so terrified that I've given up trying to use it.

The other type of mouse trap available is a sort of sticky mat that renders the mouse walking across immobile. Mr. D says they're inhumane. I don't entirely agree with him, but I also don't relish having to finish off the trapped mice with the business end of my garden shovel.

I think I'd prefer to sit in our cold garage with a loaded gun and just blast the vermin into kingdom come. Effective, less visually disturbing and considerably safer, right?


  1. The cheapest and most pleasant method to resolve this is to go to the local shelter and get yourself a good grown cat, one that was outdoors. Then the kitty will kill the mice and you'll have a sweet pet.

    My DH is an animal control professional, should you want to email me privately on killing vermin.

    Dog food can be a prime place for mice to find food. Make sure it and any bird/yard seeds are in a secure container, preferably metal.

  2. I support strict gun control yet I also have the urge to shoot the people who are going around saying, "If guns kill people, then pencils make spelling errors." Idiots.

    I work on the unit where the gun shot wounds go. They are messy and gross and devastating to the victims and their families.

  3. We've had a couple of rat problem. YUCK. my husband has taken care of it -- poison mostly. I don't like the idea of poisoning them, but they are nasty horrible creatures and I want them gone if and when they show up.

  4. The teacher just found evidence of rats in our classroom.

  5. The spin traps cost a little more but then you don't have to look at the dead mouse in there.

  6. ick!

    i don't do the traditional mouse traps - i bought the kind that says they're re-usable and the spring is inside this black things... but i get a mouse, the WHOLE thing goes into the trash.

    but, a shelter cat would be good...

  7. This is our 4th winter living in Roanoke, VA.... in the countryside, and have never seen even one mouse or rat. Our theory is that the area we live in has lots of snakes so the mice just don't stick around these parts.


  8. You'd definitely feel safer with a shotgun there!

    The gluetraps ARE inhumane. They suffer and if no one finishes them off, can starve. You want to kill them, not torture them.

    I agree. Get another mouser; your best bet is a barn cat. You'll be happier for it, and your mousing cat will be ecstatic with all those nummy treats running around. :D

  9. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think you need a cat or two.

  10. What about another cat?

    We do occasionally get rats--and all I can say about that is thank goodness for a husband who takes care of that!

  11. All I can say is, I'm so sorry you have to deal with this infestation. Blech!

  12. Sounds like it's time for Violet Version 2.0.

  13. Go for another mouser. Claws might keep the dog out of the garage too!

  14. Hmmm...and if you had a Glock semi-automatic....

    Seriously, get a cat! Or borrow one that is a known good mouser. We have a cat in our neighborhood that killed a squirrel that got in the house. Whew!

    We, too, use the old-fashioned traps - they are even trickier to set when the bait is peanut butter. The sticky traps are unconscionably inhumane. Someone somewhere on my blog (years ago) left a horror story of what happened when they used one. Don't go there.

  15. Maybe you should interview some new cats.

    (This post had me cringing and grimacing the whole way through--I've never lived in the country and never even really seen a mouse wandering around--thankfully!)

    Good luck!

  16. I was snickering to myself, remembering my own mouse adventures before we renovated part of our house....

    my aunt had great success with: instant mashed potatoes. She closed off the faucets, put down the toilet lids, and left tins of water outside, away from the house -- then left out small dishes of instant mashed potatoes. Mouse eats potatoes, gets very very thirsty ... goes out, gets drink... and then pops. Not sure how icky a popped mouse is (could be completely contained inside the mouse).... but she solved her problem that way when she was in between cats.

  17. Do you want the phone number of a good exterminator? Email me if you do. We have an old house, so he comes monthly. He does good work.

  18. I am LOVING the visual of you hunkered down on a step with a gun between your knees, daring the mice to show their beady little eyes!

    I vote for the new-fangled black plastic traps, too. They do the same dirty work as a traditional trap but are much more humane for the humans.

  19. I used to make EB relocate them, until we had a few too many in the dog food. We did find some traps that were inside a box and had a lever to set them. Good luck.

  20. I say go for another cat.
    Last night I saw Dinner for Schmucks - most interesting use for dead mice EVER!

  21. Oh goodness...i'd go for those new traps that "traps" the mouse inside...when the lever goes up (or down, I dunno) the mouse is stuck in there dead and all ya gotta do is throw it away. Much better than seeing the mouse.

    Or having your husband take a picture of the mouse in the trap to prove to you he caught it, becfause you are just trusting him to take care of the problem. imagine turning on your camera and seeing that. good lord, I'm still a bit grossed out.

  22. I read lots, but mostly lurk :) I just had to comment though. You can buy a thing that plugs into an outlet that emits a sound that only animals, including mice, can hear. It is supposed to chase them away with sound. My neighbors used them and swear they work.

  23. Everyone always tells me I need a cat for all the mice in our area. We have a service


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