Friday, September 24, 2010

When You Give a Mouse a Water Source

Several weeks ago my sink had a leak. I called my useless landlord's useful son-in-law and he fixed it, but apparently I didn't catch it early enough, and some little family of mice decided it would be a good idea to nest there. And I suppose it was: it's safe, warm, damp, there's a nice big garbage can right there for midnight snackies.

We unwittingly cohabitated for some weeks, I think, before they made the mistake of venturing beyond the cabinet and pooping all over my counter, thereby alerting me to their presence (and flummoxing me so much that I poured my boiling tea water into my cereal). I immediately disinfected the counter, the stove, underneath the stove, and myself with massive amounts of bleach. Although it still feels like it's writhing with hantavirus, it has probably never been cleaner. The only casualty was a muffin tin that I cannot bear to use again after seeing mouse poo all over it. Farewell, muffin tin. We hardly knew ye.

I happened to be chatting with Simon P. when I made the horrifying discovery, and her advice was, "Call your dad." So I did. And as all dads no doubt do, mine possessed a nice, humane trap for little George and Matilda.* This seemed a better option than what my landlord suggested, which was that he sleep in my apartment and keep the mice from gettin' me. This was the useless one**, obviously, not the son-in-law.

Anyway, last night I set the trap, and this morning I heard somebody scrabbling around in it. I don't know whether it's George or Matilda. But I have to admit, the first thing I said was, "Hello, mousie-mousie. Oh, you're so cute!" I do not know why I decided to speak to the mouse in baby talk, nor why I went on to try to comfort it and assure it that everything was going to be fine. But this must be common, because I've read a lot of mouse stories on the internet over the past couple of days, and a large proportion of them included sentences like, "Mickey is very friendly and watches tv with us," and "Houdini is extremely photogenic." They really are sort of sweet. Once they're trapped.

Yes, I use gloves to deal with anything mouse-related. While George (I guess?) is certainly cute, I do not need to cuddle with him or his diseases. He is definitely a house mouse so I am probably not going to die of anything, but who knows what his personal hygiene is like. He could have gingivitis.

I took George a couple of miles down the road to a cycling trail, opened his box, and stood back so he could leap to freedom. But he did not leap to freedom. He hid in the covered entrance to the trap. He did this for at least five minutes and showed no sign of ever wanting to leave (perhaps because I gave him twice his mass in peanut butter and oatmeal and he wasn't finished). Finally I tipped him over and he scampered away. It was overall a much less traumatic experience for both of us than I expected.

I have no idea how many mice there are, and whether I should expect to find Matilda in the trap tomorrow. I am just hoping I will not find Matilda and seventeen of her children. I would find that considerably less cute.

*Childhood picture book George and Matilda Mouse and the Doll's House may account for 50% of the reason I do not have a screaming fear of mice. The other 50% is common sense. I am like 3000x their size.

**The useless landlord is in truth a pretty nice guy and he did offer to buy me traps and remove deceased mice from my apartment. But then he also offered to provide them and me with rum, so the jury remains out. For one thing, mice can't digest alcohol and George and Matilda would die, and that is a terrible way to end a nice story.


Anonymous said...

Well, any Dad who knows about espalier and live trapping mice must be a sophisticated and well educated fellow.

Glad to hear you had such quick results with George. Have you been able to tempt any others with your peanut butter/oatmeal treats?

Perhaps you could try a little tuna in the home made mayonnaise if the PB & O has lost its appeal to the remaining residents.

Simon said...

Oh yes, terribly sophisticated and well-educated. Of course this is the same person who advised me to fix my spider problems with a flame-thrower...

George appears to have had no Matilda. Poor George, but lucky me. If I don't catch anybody else in the next few days, I shall stuff that hole with steel wool and hope hope hope I haven't trapped anyone.