Monday, January 10, 2011

The Great Mouse Relocation of 2010.

A week or so before Christmas, it became clear to Red and me that we were unwittingly hosting a phalanx of mice in our home. I found this kind of distasteful, because mouse poop is gross, but not cause for alarm. Red, bless his heart, took it much more seriously than I did. [Red: It made me feel dirty and become afraid that my mother-in-law would return to vanquish me and bring her daughter home on account of living in squalor.] Come hell or heaven, we were going to de-mousify our house. He threw himself into his efforts with a fervor rarely seen outside of gladiatorial combat.

(I may have made it worse by mentioning Hantavirus, but come on, like 30 people per year get it. Your hypochondria’s no good here.)

Hi! I'm super-cute but I'll poop in your cupboards. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Anyway, it quickly turned into full-on War on Mice in Casa Burnout, with the caveat that we endeavored to wage war in the most deathless way possible. Red agreed to try humane traps until New Year’s [my compassion-cup was sort of filled on account of the holidays – who knew there were more than just xmas]. I told the mice that they had about two weeks to vacate, be carefully and gently vacated, or start running for their rodent lives. Red procured several humane traps, which came with hilarious little admonitions to “Teach peace! Be nice to mice!” While I wholeheartedly agree with both of those sentiments, I really just wanted the traps to work. Red baited them with peanuts, secreted them around the basement, and waited.

We waited.

One enterprising mouse [or many] managed to eat the peanut without tripping the door. Wily bastard[s].

Red re-baited with peanut butter [and a single peanut] and scoured the basement, plugging any holes big enough to admit a mouse (which is pretty much any hole, no matter how small). I scrubbed the kitchen and prayed that if the mice explored the counters, they’d have the decency to not leave little presents for me to find as I fumbled my way to the coffee.
This is what I wish they'd gotten up to in my kitchen. Adorable drawing by House-Mouse Designs®.

After a couple days of this, we came home late one evening and checked the traps. SCORE! We had caught one tiny, nervous-looking fellow. However, because the universe has a sense of humor, we had no choice but to head back outside, at midnight in the freakish cold, to release our captive in a place where he’d be happy and not find his way back to us.

Because I am cold-hearted, I made myself a pot of ramen noodles before our excursion. I was hungry, and the mouse had already had his snack.

Everything I’ve read on the topic of mouse relocation suggests taking the mouse at least two to five miles away. For us, five miles meant a restaurant park near the mall. Being a mouse in a restaurant Dumpster sounded like a pretty sweet setup to me, and I hoped that any dismay he experienced over his eviction from our house would be temporary. I tucked the trap into a small box and held it on my lap while Red drove. I thought of taking a photo, but that seemed cruel.

The liberation went off without a hitch. I had to tap the trap a few times to encourage him to leave, but once he got the idea, he was outta there. That was good news for us both, because I was tired of crouching in the snow next to a Dumpster.

Thus was Mouse #1 relocated.

We repeated this scenario three more times, trapping and releasing another four mice. You did that math right: We caught two in our second trap, and they were even cuter than their predecessor. I like to think that they comforted each other on the trip to the Dumpster, but the exchange I scripted in my head went something like this: “Dammit, Carl, what’s wrong with you?! You and your stomach, always getting us into trouble! Don’t worry about the trap, he says. We can get the peanut butter, he says. You sonofabitch, now we’re God knows where in this dark box on some broad’s lap, all because you wanted a snack. From now on, I’m working solo.” [The other mouse’s name was either Esmerelda Villalaucha or George.]

These weren’t ours, but close enough. Photo courtesy of a satisfied customer.

With five mice caught and released in suitable Dumpster locations, we declared Operation Humane Mouse Relocation a success. I’d estimate that the traps had about a 50% success rate; plenty were raided, but it could have been that our mice were especially savvy or small enough to avoid tripping the door. Either way, between the traps and our cleaning/hole-plugging efforts, we seem to be mouse-free at the moment.

So. Teach peace and be nice to mice, indeed.


  1. great! you got very lucky to get rid of them all that easily. :)

  2. Tell me about it! We're counting our blessings that the mice cooperated before we lost our minds.

  3. hm! i never would have guessed that they actually worked! Andrew and I were cruel... and went the regular way. I felt really really bad. And made andrew pick him up... :(

    good to know!

    Also, heard that these high pitched sound thingys that you plug in (and that we can't hear) work WONDERS if it comes back :)

  4. That's great that you were able to relocate them like this!

  5. I have had the same experience, but in a tiny Manhattan apartment. I did not like getting up in the morning to have the shit scared out of me by a mouse running across the apartment right in front of me. We used a Have-A-Hart trap, caught 1 every day for three days in a row, and then demanded our super full the hole behind the stove that we knew they were coming in from. He claimed that there was no hole behind the stove, but after we got him to move the stove and plug it up, we never saw another mouse! I really didn't want to kill the cuties either. I'm super glad that the humane traps and plugging up the holes worked!

  6. I LOVE this post! BTW -- great use of "phalanx" . It takes effort to keep my vocabulary limber.

    We have had mice in two of our homes. The first was in a rental, with our 8 month old crawling around with them on the carpet in broad daylight ~shudder~ the landlord did not use humane methods of ridding us of them ~shudder~. In the second place it was kind of funny. I didn't see a mouse, I was just finding cheetos in strange places, and the cheetos had not been opened. At one point they were arranged decoratively on top of cardboard boxes on different levels of pantry shelves. I think it was only one that time, since we never saw any more evidence after he was relocated. Keep up the good work!