Our house is no longer as mouse friendly as it used to be.
Ever since we moved to the Santa Lucia Mountains in Cambria’s backcountry, we have chosen to use humane traps to keep the native population of mice out of our house and vehicles. This approach still works very well for the vehicles, but it has been a total bust for the house. For a few years, we seemed to be doing fine, living in a very tightly constructed house, but eventually the pipes and vents that transport water and air in and out became mouse conduits as well.
It all started with the sound of scratching in the walls and mouse droppings in the bathroom drawers. I confess that every time I found specks of evidence of uninvited mouse guests, I hoped what I was seeing were small dead bugs. That seemed possible, considering how buggy the backcountry is. Sadly, the black stuff turned out to be exactly what I feared. You can live in denial just so long.
I can’t remember the exact day I walked into the house and detected eau de mouse, but for a while I kept hoping against all logic that I was imagining the odor. I’d have been happier living with that delusion than having to face the truth of the matter. Full-on mouse invasion. Once the mouse smell got bad enough that we had to explain it to visitors, it was the beginning of the end for the defenseless, trespassing mice.
From the earliest evidence of a security breach, we began mouse-proofing the house wherever we found possible entry points. However, it’s not that easy to mouse-proof pipes. So, after trying everything humane we could think of to discourage the mouse neighbors who had infiltrated our walls, including an expensive electronic beeper, we had to resort to traps — the mean kind with peanut butter as bait. We put the traps in the heating vents because, after all the mouse-proofing we’d done, that’s where we were still finding the black gems.
Since I hate looking at dead creatures, John has a new honey-do—daily trap checking. To date, we have “caught” over 30 mice. It’s sad and a relief, all at the same time. Here we’ve moved into their neighborhood, and whenever they come to call, our hospitable response is to lure them to their death with peanut butter.
We’ve been at this mouse eradication thing for about three weeks, but we hope to eventually trap all the mice that are currently residing in our house so we can put down our weapons. This whole thing has been especially hard because the mice are so darned cute. Sometimes, however, cute just isn’t enough.
For the KTEA radio personality Lee Anne, who gave me grief when I wrote a column about humane traps a few years ago, I would guess you’re thinking this predictable turn of events was a long time coming.
Marcia Rhoades’ column is special to The Cambrian. She lives in Cambria’s mountain community in the Santa Lucia range. Email her at ranchers firstname.lastname@example.org.