Thursday, September 20, 2012

snakes, mice, dead birds, oh my!

It's fall maintenance time and I've enjoyed some nasty surprises along the way.  Snakes, mice, dead birds and bad smells.

Twice a year I apply some perimeter pesticide around Chez Green Girl.  Yeah, it's mildly toxic, but it keeps the ants, flies, spiders and crawly things OUTside instead of INside, which complies with the rental agreement I've drawn up with nature.  The perimeter spray goes around the edge of the basement walls and around the foundation of the house, I squirt a double application by outside doors.  While wading through the hostas on the north side of my house, I disturbed a snake family.  By the look of them, they've eaten well all summer.  Really well.  They normally hole up by the pool, not near the house, but maybe the unusual heat coupled with the dry weather made them move.  Anyway, snakes only freak me out because they, like zombies, are SILENT.  You have no idea they're even nearby until they slide past, brushing along the edge of your foot (or rise out of the night and start chewing on your arm).  And then the silence is broken by a gasp followed by loud screaming.  Screaming by me, not the snakes.  They just gave me a look before continuing through the bed of hostas.

Twice a year I double down on the laundry/mud room.  This involves dragging out the washer and dryer to clean the floor beneath.  This time I noticed the venting for the dryer was ripped and shredded.  Upon closer examination, I realized that MICE were trying to break into my nice warm house (chew marks and mouse turds, I'm a regular CSI agent).  This was a safe mode of entry since I don't use the clothes dryer for at least half of the year.  I pulled off the torn venting tube and blocked the hole with a bowl from the kitchen, the rationale being that mice can't chew through a bowl.  It still didn't explain how the mice got this far through the vent, however, so I went outside to check out the other end of things.  That's when I saw a GIANT mouse run down a hole right beneath the "out" end of the dryer vent.  Shuddering, I bent down and peered up to find the vent flap stuck open.  Glued open with dried dryer lint.  With a butter knife and my fingernails, I cleaned it off satisfactorily.  Then I went to town to buy replacement tube to connect the dryer to the wall.  Things look better than they did before, but that mouse living so close to the house gives me the willies. 

I'd like to straight-up poison the mice, but the damn dog would probably eat the poison before the mice got to it. (Mind you, the "carnivore" dog wouldn't go after the mice, of course.) Those dinky traps freak me out worse than the mice, the way they SNAP shut when you try to set them.  Which leaves me with those sticky pads that trap the mice (Mr. D calls them inhumane, I call them safer than a mousetrap) or pouring boiling water down the hole repeatedly until I find no trace of a mouse.  I've got the kettle on.

I'm thinking of hiring a cat before I clean the garage next weekend as a preventative measure.

After repairing the dryer vent and spraying bug-repelling chemicals around the house, I began cleaning up the patio and porch, which is when I found the dead bird (smelly!) that seems to have flown into the living room window as part of a kamikaze attack on my house. I can't bear to just toss a dead bird into the weeds, so I had to dig a grave and bury it on the edge of our yard which has become an informal bird graveyard.  Coincidentally, the grass grows quite lush on that end of things.

I'm tackling the refrigerator next, which is a guaranteed stench-fest, but hopefully I don't find anything alive other than a mold colony when I empty it.  I'll keep you posted.


  1. Rodents.... Snakes.... (Shudder) I think hiring a cat sounds like a good idea.

  2. Wow, it's all wild kingdom over there!
    I have only seen one snake. I'm not afraid of them and wished I had my camera.

    We are having a population explosion of possums. City Possums...who knew?

    I hope to tackle the fridge today. I don't think there are any critters in there.

  3. I'm not too fond of the mice either, but having a garden and barn, seems to call them in, soooooooo, any feral cat that happens to stray in, is more than welcome. There are cats that love to live outside and do so well on their own, even tho I've been known to leave them a 'thank you' bowl of milk for all the 'mousin' they do. Try it. Now, back to My fall cleaning...I'm so far behind you and your energy.

  4. The first year we lived here we had a mice infestation that totally freaked me out. Since then DOTR is in charge of preventive measures. I haven't seen snakes, but we get plenty of raccoons, freaky opossums out by the pool (those shiny eyes creep me out), a big old hoot owl who is very noisy and our resident hawk who likes to hang out near the pool or on the other side of the house on the basketball hoop. And I live in the city!

  5. Whoa. You do need a barn cat, stat! They supposedly help with snakes too.

  6. We don't have too many home invaders but once we found a rodent living in a nest of artichoke our stove!

  7. Ugh. I hate all the different creepy crawlers. I don't know when this happened because I used to always pick them up and move them around for whatever reasons a child does such things. This is when apartment living is good! :)

  8. Snakes. That's the reason why I could never live in the country. Just having them in town is bad enough, but at least there seem to be fewer of them.

  9. Make sure you get a young, hungry, cat! Ours is old and while she takes care of chipmunks and mice outside, once they're in the house she's completely indifferent to them. I think it's because she's not hungry enough :-)

  10. Oh my gosh--you have me freaking out behind the safety of my computer!!!!! I don't do mice well.At.All. Snakes are creepy and I'd probably mess my pants..but mice make me want to grab a hazmat suit! (I might have been slightly obsessed with all things ebola in high school...somethings just stick with you). We had issues with them a couple of years ago. Lowe's had this black box trap thingy. Smear pb on an inside wall, the little mousey follows the scent around a corner to find himself on two metal pads hooked up to AA battery. Quick, easy, and quiet!

  11. FAMILY of snakes? FAMILY????? Oh good Lord above. How many make up a FAMILY?

    I'm not sure when I'll be wandering around your yard again. that gives me the heebies just thinking about it.

  12. I'd take snakes any day, over all the damn spiders in and around my house. We've lived here five years and still can't figure out how they get in, but they get worse every year. Yuck! And I hate them for the exact reason you hate snakes: they are silent. They aren't there, then they are right in front of you. I can't handle it.

    I can't believe you took care of the mouse/dryer situation yourself. Had I seen a mouse, I would have packed up the girls and left the house until Steve got home to take care of it. Don't believe me? A couple weeks ago I called him at work and made him come home to take care of a giant (no joke 1 1/2 inch diameter) spider that came in when I opened the front door to get the mail.

    1. Oh, and look for live traps. You can use them over and over again, so they end up being cheaper. And they are humane. Really humane: no slow, torturous death; no death at all. I bet your boys would love to set the mice free out in the woods. Peanut butter or old/stale chocolate works great as bait.

  13. So how big is a family of snakes, how many family members are we talking about here? Garter snakes, fox snakes? Or did you not hang around long enough to find out?

    I did not bury the dead rabbits our cat's been playing with but I did dispose of them on church ground. That's something, right?

  14. I know an exterminator if you need one. Nice guy, humane attitude, likes our rabbits.

  15. Oh my goodness! It seems to me that your house is like a small wildlife preserve! Hmm…to get rid of the mice, put glue traps or rodent traps on possible routes that they use to get around the house. If you think there are a lot of them, and you are having a hard time to get rid of other critters in your house, it’d be better to let the experts do the work.

    Selena Slough


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