Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A mouse in the house (and how to get rid of it)

Very early this morning I woke to sounds that - for a few wonderful moments - I thought might mean nothing more than an expensive repair to my dishwasher.  There were poppings and scrapings and clinkings, as when metal collides, or glass (which is what made me think: dishwasher, yay!)

Sadly no.  There was a mouse under the stove, and then in the drawer of the stove, and then back under the stove.

Admittedly I did not witness this mouse.  I just recognized the sounds from the days when I had a cat who moonlighted as a pest control expert.  In all the years we lived together, she was only called upon to identify and deter a mouse twice, and I miss her so much right now because she did such an awesome job of letting those unwanted visitors know they would be much happier outside with their own kind.

A flashlight and broom handle are not as cuddly as my cat was

(which is saying something because my cat was super unfriendly)

but they are effective in their way, and the mouse fled without ever making an actual appearance. 

This made it much easier for me to determine that the gap I found behind the stove where its plug goes into the wall must have been the mouse's access point.  more yay!

How to Get Rid of Mice

Apparently one does not want to set out traps or poison for mice.  Apart from the ickiness of this course of action (once in my student years I caught a baby mouse in a 'humane' sticky-goo tray and have never forgotten its piteous cries plus the sight of its mother trying to drag it and the tray back through the hole), it's counterproductive, because the ones that die leave a greater mouse-to-food ratio that encourages increased breeding.

Instead, you want to keep the mice out in the first place. 

1. A cat is good, and I did read that used kitty litter is an effective substitute, but after those last years of feline incontinence I kinda think that mice are preferable.

2. Finding and blocking mouse entry points: essential.  A mouse can squeeze through a space as small as 1/4 inch, so you have to be really picky about what constitutes said point.  When you find likely candidates, stuff them with steel wool, because mice can't chew through that.  Also it would probably stick porcupine-like into their gums if they tried, judging by the little stabs and hurties you get from stuffing steel wool into a hole.

3. Making the mouse smell peppermint?  Total turnoff.  Word is, mice hate that stuff, and if you drop some essential oil of mint onto a cotton ball and leave it around where the mice loiter while waiting to make a dash for your pantry, they will opt to go loiter at your unwitting neighbour's house instead. Here's a tip: don't throw more than a couple of drops on.  The stuff is strong and guess what?  I don't like the way peppermint oil smells either, not after getting overenthusiastic and putting about 10 drops on.

And... did it work?

I guess I'll find out tonight.  And if I update the Diary with news of a new cat in residence, you will totally know why.