Thursday, October 14, 2004

Critter issues.

(A bit'o warning: this is not one of my nicer stories)

As the weather gets colder all sorts of outdoor critters try to find a new home in my apartment. Okay, mainly just mice and spiders. And the occasional pigeon.

I can "take care of" the spiders without too much difficulty, and the pigeons usually want to leave, but the mice are another story.

Last fall was the first year that we had a problem with mice in our current apartment after two years of no problems. I handled it by ignoring it. I only saw one mouse one time (I know, if you see one there are at least five you don't see.) and only had a couple of nights sleep interrupted by scratching and gnawing noises. I made it through okay and there was no sign of them once the weather got warm.

This year I think it's going to be worse though. It's like the mice were hanging out with their buddies this past Summer and were bragging about this great place they found to spend the Winter.

"There're NO other animals, no traps and the smallest human leaves chips, cereal and hot dogs EVERYWHERE! It's a mouse paradise, I'm telling you! Bring the whole family!"

The last three nights I've been awakened between 2 am and 5 am by incessant gnawing, and about a week ago one of the fuzzy little bastards tore across my kitchen floor while I was on the phone.

"So what!" you say. "Set out some traps. Snap and trash, problem gone." Ahhhh. But I have a story about that:

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When I left the intolerable situation I was in with "the man my mom married" to go live with my dad in Pueblo, we moved into a house that had mice. My dad got traps and we caught a LOT of mice. It was my job to empty the traps and then reload them for their next victim.

One day, while my dad was out, I had a friend over and we heard the trap under the kitchen sink snap. Now, sometimes the traps kill instantly. No problem. Annnnnd sometimes they don't. Well, this time not only did it not kill instantly, the mouse had enough life left in him to scream for a long damn time.

After a few minutes it quieted down so we checked on him. He was still alive and when he saw the light from the open cabinet door he started to scream again. His back was totally squished but the hind legs were still twitching hard enough to cause the trap to bounce around.

There are people that can kill an animal without a thought. Especially vermin. I'm not one of those people. I like animals alive more often than dead. I hit the brakes for squirrels. Up to that point I only had to deal with dead mice in the traps.

This one just didn't want to die, and I had to deal with him.

I could have taken the trap outside and leave it there until later when I was sure the mouse would be dead, but I couldn't let him suffer like that. It just wasn't right with me.

So I carried the trap out to the back alley where the garbage cans were and my friend followed. On the way I got the shovel from the garage. I figured that a couple good whacks at most and it's pain would be over. My intentions were good.

Okay, if you've been at all squeamish with this story so far, you may want to skip the rest.

I set the trap down, backed up, raised the shovel over my head and brought it down hard. But something went wrong. I must have been holding the shovel oddly. It twisted sideways on the way down and the edge cut the screaming mouse in half. And he was STILL squeaking! I'm sure with the last of his breath he was screaming, "You fucker! NOW LOOK WHAT YOU DID! All I wanted was some Twinkie!" I quickly smacked him a couple more times until I was sure he was finally dead.

My friend said, "Wow. I didn't see that coming," as I scooped up the top half to put in the trash and unloaded the bottom half from the trap. I felt a bit nauseous.

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After that I DID use traps again in the house we lived in when my son was born. But I wasn't about to unload them. Once a trap caught a mouse the whole thing went in the trash and I set out a new trap. Also I was having to do it sneakily because my son who was three at the time just wouldn't have understood why his dad was killing the cute mice.

Now I have a daughter who is four and my son is 11. There would be explaining to do and I'm just really not up to it.

"Okay, how about DeCon then?" you ask. Well, there are several things wrong with that as I see it.

First, there's the uber-curious four-year-old. I've only had to call the poison control center twice about her and I would like to keep it at that.

Second, there's the method of death. Causing extreme dehydration in even a mouse would seem to rack up a fair amount of bad karma. I have enough of that already.

Third, it says that mice will seek out the nearest source of water after eating the stuff. I can't even get the kids to pick up their toys, much less put down the toilet seat. I can picture the first time my daughter goes into the bathroom in the morning and finds a cute little mouse floating face down in the potty bowl. No thanks.

And finally, assuming they don't drown in the toilet I'll have mouse mummies in the wall. I don't want that. I don't care if there's no smell, it 'ooks' me out.

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"Get a cat then."

I'll cover this one fast. $200 pet deposit, $45 per month additional rent charge, cat box cleaning and cat feeding, allergies caused by extended contact with said cat, cat hair on everything, and random dead mouse bits around the house and in my shoes or on my pillow. No thanks.

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"Fine you wimp," you say. "How about calling the apartment office and having THEM take care of it for you."

Why are you so mean to me?

My problem with that solution has nothing to do with how they will set about accomplishing ridding us of the mice. And only a little to do with how long it could take. My problem is I have a REAL big "thing" about strangers in my house. I can't stand it. I get very tense when someone I don't know is in the house for any reason. And a pest control person would probably have to go everywhere and I just can't do it. Although I might have to. The dilemma.

I'm considering trying out a live trap as my final alternative to calling in the pros. Only which should I get? This or one ofthese? Does anyone still reading this have any success stories involving live traps?

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