What happens when you mix a family of mice, an Asian and complete terror? Well, you get my past two weeks. I’ve learned more about mice than I’ve ever wanted to. Here are my notes.
1. Mice can fit into a hole the size of a pencil eraser.
It all started with a dead mouse. In my kitchen cupboard. Not exactly the discovery I was banking on when I was reaching for a serving platter. I have no idea how it got there. But there it laid, strewn horizontally and decomposing on my beautiful Pottery Barn platters.
I’ve been told certain sensory memories will forever stay with an individual. For example, I’ll always think of how the smell of just-baked, perfectly buttered croissants will forever remind me of my first time in Paris at age 16 and indulging in the bakeries there. Of how balloons remind me of my grandmother and how dozens of them passed by me right as I was told she had departed. Of how a wonderfully struck A note will forever remind me of my first Mozart piano concerto (No. 20 in D Min0r).
And now the smell of stench will forever remind me of that damn dead rodent. It’s been a half month, and I still can’t shake the odor and sight of it.
And then came my neighbor in the form of a hero (“neighero,” as I will now coin him) who carted away the dead mouse. Said neighbor told me he was rather experienced in dealing with mice as he grew up in a house that at one point was infested with them. He also told me mice can go through holes and openings as small as a pencil eraser. Not exactly the tidbit I wanted to hear.
2. Mice prefer peanut butter over cheese.
About a week passes by, and as I’m getting ready to write an article for work, I start hearing some rattling in my hallway closet. Great, I said to myself. It’s gotta be another mouse. And this time, this one’s alive.
Then I beg neighero to raid through the closet to find the mouse. I couldn’t do it myself. I was too terrified. Neighero checked out the scene: No mouse found, but plenty of droppings and chewed-through canvas bags were. Even worse, my beloved zero-gravity flight suit (the suit I was given to literally fly through the air) was completely chewed through. That’s when I decided: It’s war, and I’m coming with guns loaded. Or, well, traps loaded.
I called my landlord, who then called the exterminator. “There’s definitely a mouse coming up here,” the exterminator said. “It’s probably coming from up the washer pipe.” The unused pipe that we agreed to unhook when we moved in, it seems.
So he set up sticky traps laced with peanut butter. “They love peanut butter,” the exterminator informed me. They’ll try to eat the peanut butter and when they do so, they’ll get stuck and trapped, he said. Great, so easy enough, right?
I go to bed that night with nothing but mice on my mind. I’m not sure I get more than two hours of sleep as I lay in bed envisioning a family of mice coming up and climbing all over me as I remain helpless.
And then it happened. I hear it. The mouse gets caught. And I can hear it shrieking and shifting violently to try to get out of the trap’s sticky grip. It doesn’t help that just before I went to bed, I read an article about how those sticky traps are tortuously and completely inhumane. I feel awful, but for the life of me, I can’t bring myself to do anything about it. My own personal fear of coming eye to eye with a mouse literally left me paralyzed.
3. A mice litter can be as many as 14.
I call the exterminating company first thing the next morning. I ask for someone to come asap to free the mouse. They oblige and send someone out.
As the exterminator opens the closet door, the first thing out of his mouth is, “Oh shit!” Not exactly the first thing I want to hear from the exterminator. “There’s three mice trapped here,” he yells to me as I sit in the fetal position in my bedroom with the door closed.
That’s when I find out mice can have as many as 14 babies in one litter. I’ve read more, too, depending on the species. So great, three found, and how many more to go? I can’t fight this war forever!
I get three brillo pads and asked said exterminator to stuff the unused pipe and make sure no mouse can get through it. He did. And I haven’t seen a mouse since. But, believe me, I know they’re out there. And, I’ve memorized the pest control company’s number just in case.