For many years now, I've had an annual visitor. Never the same one, but always arriving at the same time and always choosing to set up housekeeping in the same area of my home.
Field mice they are. Timid little creatures to be sure. I'm certain that in the wild they did quite well, foraging here and yon. Nature's land was their land. A giver of sustinance to keep the body and blood line going for another season.
But, each season ends. Spring's flowers, tender leaves, even moldy crab apples and other bits of fruit are all gone. Summer's grain has been harvested, and its worms, snails and insects are gone, either by death or by secreting themselves for the winter in niches not easily accessible to our tiny, timid friends.
It's been a hard life but it's been a good one, all in all. Mind you, there was danger at every turn. The black snake. Quick as lightning! In the blink of an eye, Mister Field Mouse could be inside that slithering serpent, never to see the light of day again.
Snakes from below, hawks from above, feral cats close at the heels. Danger at every turn. Danger that was tempered though, by the bounty of the land, a few close lady friends and the many little mice sired to insure the perpetuation of the species.
Yes, it's been a good season, after all. But the nip in last night's air will be tomorrow night's first frost, and then a fortnight's hard freeze. One must make preparations quickly lest the end comes much too soon. With a life expectancy of only one year, having a strong will to survive and finding warm refuge in Man's home could mean a doubling of that span. Yes, this little fella has the same innate burning desire as you and I. It wants to live.
What attracts these mice to the area under my sink and the lower cabinets on either side is a mystery to me. No food is kept there. No accessible water is there, only cleaning supplies. Yet just as surely as the days shorten and the nights become bitter, I once again hear those tiny sounds as I sit quietly at night. My guest has arrived.
He doesn't know he's a mouse a bit more than a dog knows he's a dog. He has the potential of being an excellent and devoted pet. To pass the years with some semblance of remaining Human with human compassion, many prisoners befriended these animals only to find their bonding equaled that of any man and his dog.
Were I much younger with lots of time on my hands, I might give it a go at being friends with my guest. I've befriended dogs, cats, birds, bats and rabbits and more. Why not this little creature. He is capable of showing much affection. He just wants to live.
And if we were friends, he could ride in my shirt pocket while I went places, poking his little head out now and then for a peanut or cricket I captured just for him.
But, I'm old. My patience went the way of my youth. My aches and pains dictate that I not even attempt to house train a tiny mouse. A small spring loaded trap will put an end to my fantasizing of a friendship with this shy, harmless creature.
This year has been the odd one to say the least. Spring has just begun and my visitor has made an unexpected and very early appearance. His stay was abruptly cut short by that deadly snap of the spring loaded metal against wood, with his tiny head between the two. A mouse in my house in the Spring? Just a one time thing, for sure.
Not so. The very next night, there were more sounds. Heavy, loud sounds. This must be a big one. A larger trap ruled out any doubts. It wasn't a larger mouse, though. It was a rat. Two nights later, another rat met his demise. Three nights later, another mouse. I've never had such happen.
Before I could empty the trap and bury the last rat, I heard the sounds of another. This is insane. Why so many and why now? Well, I found out why, but I won't tell it here lest I am thought to be prejudiced against new immigrants to the neighborhood. I take pride in not being prejudiced but I have no control over what other people say or think.
This last rat has decided he will stay. He had fitted his new quarters with all manner of accoutrements ranging from bits of tinfoil to cellophane to soda can tabs. He completely avoids any contact with the baited trap. He leaves his calling cards all over the place and pees like a beer hound on Saturday night. I am miffed.
I took everything from under the sink and cabinets. I washed down all surfaces with a strong bleach solution. I washed everything I had taken out and put it all in dishpan-like tubs.
The wheels started turning. Boric acid will kill ants. It has a burning effect. Once, I sprinkled some on my plants to kill insects that were eating the plants. Over a few days, it burned the leaves so badly, the plants almost died.
Well sir, before putting the tubs into the cleaned sink area and cabinets, I spread a thick layer of boric acid all about. I set back and waited to see what would happen. About half an hour later, my unwelcome guest returned.
He made his usual entry sounds, then nothing. No scuffling about, no loud gnawing sounds, no constant re arranging of all the treasures he had hoarded. Nothing. Silence.
I was hoping the boric acid would give him enough of a hot foot to make him want to stay away. Looks like it did. Or maybe he just doesn't like walking through it. Whatever the case, this is the first night in many where I've been able to sit at my kitchen computer for any length of time and not be distracted by all that racket.
The cleaning supplies are in tubs. They wont come in contact with the boric acid. There are no small children about to plunder under the sink. If there were, I would have a lock on the doors. So, there is no reason the acid can't stay where it is.
I didn't give life. I figure I have no right to take it. But when it comes to urine stains and rat doo under my sink, philosophy and charitable thoughts go out the window. The boric acid stays, just a much thicker layer than recommended for roaches.
With this deterrent in place this Fall, I doubt there'll be any guests for an over winter stay. Suits me. That way I wont have to wrestle with my conscience about how morally wrong I might have been when shortening the lifespan of a poor little creature who had only a year from birth to death, anyway.
Due to a huge issue with ants around my home, I always keep a ready reserve of boric acid on hand. It's relatively cheap and relatively safe. After I clean, I always put down a dusting behind and under stove, refrigerator, in all cracks and crevices. Anywhere I think an ant or roach might travel. It has paid off. Unlike my neighbors, I have never had a roach infestation in all the years I have lived here.
Now, I have found that just more of what I have been using all along is an excellent deterrent to mice and rats, as well. Several days after my liberal layer was laid down, there have been no sounds or other evidence to indicate another displaced rodent plans to set up housekeeping in my home. Boric acid will deter mice and rats. A good thing to know.
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I love this!!!! It's like an awesome essay :) :)
I've had my share of battle with the little beasties
I love your way of writing and can fully appreciate the tale of your uninvited guests. I live at the bottom of a small mountain, near a large field and am very familiar with your issues.
Several years ago, we had a really large rat that for the life of me, I could not catch and our whole kitchen smelled like urine.
It was absolutely awful and no matter how I scrubbed, the smell lingered.
Our two cats for what ever reason had shown no interest in catching it. Now our Rosie who was a German Shepherd / Mini Pin mix had been a feral dog before she decided we were kind enough to live with became our ratter and she was good, real good.
Late one night, I surprised the rat and screamed for Rosie who killed it within seconds. It was big enough in the right circumstances to of been a very filling meal for two.
I had a hard time sweeping it up into the pooper scooper and tossed it over the back fence for the neighborhood hawk who I imagine was very grateful.
I've never had any problems with mice in the house because I always have a cat or two, and always will. I have seen their droppings in outside closets/garages where the cats don't go, and I buy something called FreshCab which has a nice smell for humans, but mice and rats don't like.
put fabric softener sheets in places you get rats & mice. the fabric softener will keep them away. You can also put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball & it will also keep them away.
Loved your story and the hint about boric acid for ants. Thank you.
Delightful writing and successful mission.
Beautiful writing and lovely tips.
I have other pets so I don't see mice inside but I have read somewhere that if you put down instant mashed potato flakes it will eliminate the mice but if your pet or wild birds catch them it won't poison them. if they eat it and have water the flakes expand.
You know, you're the only one I know of that can turn a tip about an unpleasant experience into something pleasant to read about. I had an infestation of mice last year and I doubt that I could have waxed poetic about the situation.
What an awesome little story! Write a book, it will sell :)
Anonymous (your identity is safe with me)
ThriftyFun members are my kind of people. When they read my works, they overlook poor grammar, poor construction, incorrect punctuation, rambling from the subject and more. They look instead for the heart of the matter. I'm afraid a publisher wouldn't be so lenient.
Thanks for the kind compliment.
They hate that concentrated lysol in the brown bottle. They will leave a house if the smell it.
Sir, you are an amazing story teller! I give this one million votes! Thank you for the info also.
"Your" story kept me spellbound. What a delight you must be and so full of wisdom. Thank you for this must read on a dreary day in Missouri. God bless you
I do not have any issues with mice or rats where I live, but I sure enjoyed reading through this well written article and I got educated.
Other than the single field mouse each late Fall, I have gone for years without rodents in my home. Two weeks ago, If anyone had asked me if I had mice or rats, my answer would have been an emphatic 'No'.
We don't always know what we think we know. I did have both and didn't know it. Since writing this article I have trapped several more mice and rats.
And as I sit here at 5:30 in the morning, I see one of the traps needs emptying. Not only that, I hear another mouse/rat somewhere near the back door. If that wasn't enough, from the corner of my eye, I see another, silently zipping by in front of the refrigerator. And lastly, for now (I hope), I hear sounds of another somewhere near the trap holding that one yet to be buried.
The above tip about boric acid is a good one and still stands. There is still no evidence any rat or mouse has chosen to frequent that area. But as it's not practical to put boric acid everywhere, and with all this recent and never before activity, I offer another tip. Always keep traps baited and set, 'cause one thing's for sure, we don't always know what we think we know.
Other than the single field mouse each late Fall, I have gone for years without rodents in my home. Two weeks ago, If anyone had asked me if I had mice or rats, my answer would have been an emphatic 'No'. We don't always know what we think we know. I did have both and didn't know it. Since writing this article I have trapped several more mice and rats. And as I sit here at 5:30 in the morning, I see one of the traps needs emptying. Not only that, I hear another mouse/rat somewhere near the back door. If that wasn't enough, from the corner of my eye, I see another, silently zipping by in front of the refrigerator. And lastly, for now (I hope), I hear sounds of another somewhere near the trap holding that one yet to be buried. The above tip about boric acid is a good one and still stands. There is still no evidence any rat or mouse has chosen to frequent that area. But as it's not practical to put boric acid everywhere, and with all this recent and never before activity, I offer another tip. Always keep traps baited and set, 'cause one thing's for sure, we don't always know what we think we know.
I suggest you buy a gizmo called a Rat Zapper. It started in California and the company was bought out by Viktor. It is available at Home Depot and on line. A friend recommended it, and I've used it, happily, for years.
It's like a little house that a mouse or rat enters. It's powered by, I believe, D batteries. Once the mouse/rat steps on the plate, it's electrocuted. It works like a charm. When I lived on a canyon, I'd throw the bodies down the hill, with NO FEAR that hawks, birds, cats, etc. would be poisoned. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL THING!!!
Oh, one other thing, it is not recommended for use outside, so use it for your inside "problems."
I love reading your "tips" but this one is outstanding! I once had a precious friend who had a cat with extra toes and she was always sending out letters from "thumbs". Everyone loved her home life stories and yours certainly remind me of Thumbs.
I wish I had had this issue on one of my camping trips with my small grandchildren - they would have been mesmerized (with most of it).
Thanks again for a lively event as well as some very good bug catching tips.
I'm sorry you had the rat problem, but your story is so enjoyable, I almost wished the boric acid didn't work. For your sake, I'm glad it did work. You should write a book!
I had a problem with one drawer under the wall ovens. I sprinkled Cayenne pepper all over the bottom and since then have no mice in there. I can't use it but at least no mice. Someday hope someone in the family can find out how to block the mice from getting in there!
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