One evening late last fall my husband very casually said to me “I think, I just saw a mouse run from our living room into the kitchen. It could have gone behind the refrigerator.”
A very casual statement from him, only said “High Alert” in my mind. This was a very credible source and a very “specific” warning. The level of credibility about the warning was so high, that I believed it immediately and the threat was very visible and imminent.
This alert condition is imposed in our home in two circumstances:
- that “an incident” has occurred and a pest/problem has been identified
- that intelligence indicates that a pest action/problem is imminent.
All personnel responsible for implementing anti-mouse/ anti-pest plans are on duty. Access points are limited to the absolute minimum. All packages coming in and out of the house are searched at entry. Patrolling is increased.
The “concern” about the imminent attack was so high that I had to immediately evacuate all food items from the kitchen counter tops and this included creating a list of foods mice eat. The list was so long that I just stuck with the other list about what foods mice do not eat. Still, the imminent danger of finding mouse droppings in any food items that were stored on the counter top made me miserable.
It is always good to check for resources and so I typed a simple phrase; “Mouse in the house” and there were close to seventy-two million links that popped up immediately to help me solve this problem at hand. I perused for twenty minutes and then chose five things that I could do.
The first step would have been a bull’s-eye, but was out right away, because of my severe allergies to cat dander that in the past that have landed me in the hospital.
The next four steps to catch a mouse meant only four letters: WORK.
We looked for any small holes in our house walls since they would have to be sealed to close any possible entry. Fortunately there were none.
While my husband went to Walmart to pick up some mouse traps, I busied myself in the kitchen.
That evening I spend the first couple of hours removing all food items and putting them away in tins or in airtight glass containers. I discovered all types of flours in paper sacks that I had in the kitchen and these ranged from whole wheat flour, rice flour, self rising flour, unbleached flour, enriched with soy flour, all-purpose flour, better for baking bread flour and a few of them that had expired could just go in the trash. There were other packages that I had handy and the mouse could easily nibble on them, such as hominy grits, oatmeal, cereal boxes and corn meal. Also potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and apples had to be stored in a secured area. Next I spend a lot of time cleaning the floors and making them “crumb free”. I was tired of cleaning, moving stuff and making the house “mouse proof”.
After deliberating for half an hour about which mouse trap would be more humane in killing the mouse, my husband settled for the d-Con trap which is designed such that one never sees or has to touch a dead mouse.
The thought about having a mouse colony in my house drove me nuts. During this time the mouse, who had resolve of steel, did not fall prey to the temptation of peanut butter, crackers or gourmet cheese. This ordeal went on for about two weeks and the mouse would not eat the bait, while I continued to find its droppings in the kitchen area.
Just like soldiers patrolling the highest battlefields in the world, who are left chronically fatigued after long periods of service on a heightened alert at the line of control, I too was dejected, tired, irritable and stressed.
I had almost given up and thought all this was a figment of my husband’s imagination and was casually sitting in the kitchen writing some bills. I lifted my head to stretch and saw someone looking at me. It was a tiny little mouse that stared at me from under our stove and I stared back at him for a good five seconds. I can never forget its face. Then it quickly ran under our stove.
My husband and I moved the stove. There was a hole in the floor about the size of a quarter behind the stove for the gas pipe. There was a good possibility that the mouse came from the crawl space into our home and who knows what it was trying to do. It never fell prey to the bait but I wondered if it was looking for a nesting space for the winter?
We plugged that hole with steel wool. We moved our refrigerator and made sure there were no mouse nests behind the refrigerator and other potential places around the house. My husband had the added responsibility of checking for holes in the crawl space and installing more mouse traps in the garage and crawl space. We did not see the mouse ever again.