Category: mice

Buying a Better Mousetrap

We’re almost to late October, and you know what that means: peak mouse trapping season is upon us. Now that I’ve lived in an old farmhouse for over a decade, this is far from my first rodeo. If there’s a mouse-controlling device out there, I’ve bought it and tried it out. And seeing as how some of you might be newer to the mousing scene, I thought it might be helpful to some of you for me to give a quick run down of the various mouse traps out there, and which one gets the official Bryce Seal of Approval.

Ye Olde Classic–You know the one I’m talking about. Wooden trap. Metal coil. Something Bugs Bunny might try to trick Elmer Fudd with. These traps are fine and all. They’re certainly cheap, and when they work, they work. (Sometimes a little too well. I’ve had mice that pretty much got cut in half by one of these. Speaking from experience, that’s not a situation you want. Cleaning up two halves of a mouse is not a fun prospect.) Messiness aside, I don’t like this style for three other reasons. First is reusability. Once you’ve caught a mouse, you have to get fairly handsy with that corpse to get the mouse out and reset the trap. Second, actually setting the trap is a trick and a half. There’s a fair chance you’re going to snap it on yourself once or twice before you actually get it done right. Third, there tends to be a lot of false alarms with this style. Mice seem to be able to navigate the trap well enough without actually getting caught.

Glue Traps–This style fails on many different levels. First of all, it just seems cruel to me. I don’t like mice, but I don’t quite like them to the level of “glue them to the floor and let them starve to death or die of thirst.” Also, sometimes the critter doesn’t fully get on the trap, and instead it takes the glue trap on a trip around the house. This is less than ideal. Finally, the glue just picks up all sorts of nastiness over time. Yuck. Pass.

Poison–Again, it’s pretty cruel, but there are times when poison’s the only thing I’ve figured out that’ll work. (Less so now that I have a dog. Poison’s pretty much out for me at this point . . . ) But even if you don’t have a pooch to look out for, poison just generally means the mouse dies in the floor or the wall, and then you’ve got to smell if for a long time afterward. Not fun. Pass.

Noise Deterrents–These are plug in things that supposedly make it so mice don’t want to go anywhere near where they can hear the noise. They can work . . . fine. But they only work for where the noise can get, and I haven’t had a huge success rate. They’re fine as a first defense, but I wouldn’t rely on them for all my mouse warfare needs.

Dryer sheets–I swear. People seem to think dryer sheets work for everything. Like mice will smell them and then go running for the hills. I have had no success with dryer sheets for anything other than keeping clothes fluffy in the dryer.

Electronic Traps–The concept seems sound at first blush. Mice go in and get zapped by a battery powered zapper. And these do indeed kill mice. But they also get really gunky over time. The batteries need to be changed. Getting rid of the mice can be a pain, as well. They brag about how they’re enclosed, so you don’t have to see the dead mouse, but . . . that kind of goes with the territory of mouse trapping. Sooner or later, you have to see the beady eyes. These are expensive, and I don’t see the point. Pass.

Have-a-Heart Traps–These take the “trap” part too literally. I want to kill the mouse, not take it on a trip in my car. What is this? A mouse game show? The rodent has infested my house, and instead of making an example of it, I end up giving it a free meal and a trip to an exotic location, where it can proceed to do what mice do best: make more mice. No thanks. If mice didn’t want to die, they shouldn’t have come into my house.

Guillotine Style Traps–They don’t actually cut the critter’s head off, but they come close. They also don’t work for beans. I have yet to catch a mouse with one of these, probably because mice see them and are scared to death.

Board Games–Is that what this is to you? A joke? We’re here to kill mice, son. Not build complex Rube Golberg machines.

Amazon’s Recommended Style–These work okay, over all. I’ve successfully used them to kill multiple mice with the same trap over time, but they don’t have the staying power to last season after season. Once you’ve caught and killed five mice with one trap, the trap mechanism seems to wear out, and you have to get a new trap. They’re fine, and they do the job without being too messy. They’re also easy to reset. They’re easily my second favorite trap, but they’re not my pick for number one.

My Number One–Now we’re talking. These traps win on so many different levels. First off, they’re very reusable. I’ve got one trap that’s caught four mice over six days right now. (It’s a bad year for mice, it seems? At least in my house at the moment.) Better yet, you can just stick a raisin in the bait spot, and the mice almost never successfully get the raisin, so you never have to put new bait in. You can set it and unset it with just one hand, leaving your other clean hand free to open doors and maneuver in and out of the house. You can reset it with your foot, so if it goes off and misses the mouse, you don’t have to worry about getting your hands dirty again. They’re just very, very good traps. And they’re cheap.

So there you have it. My recommendation for the best mouse killing machine, speaking from years of practice. If you have more questions, I’m happy to answer them. Good luck in your mouse hunting endeavors, and may the odds be ever in your favor.


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An Update on the Mice

Just realized that it’s been a few weeks since I told the world all the sordid details about my rodent infestation. Nothing like a Friday to remind you of the little things in life, right? Well, wonder no more, my friends.

As you’ll recall, when last we met, the mice were waging full out war: they’d gnawed through the phone line to my DSL router, then the power cord to that router, and then they’d chewed off part of the seal to the washing machine. (Had I mentioned that online? I can’t remember. It was a bad day.) Things were so bleak that I came |—–| this close to going nuclear and getting a cat from the shelter. If we hadn’t been leaving for PA the next day, I would have done it. But the thought of having a strange cat in my house for the week I was gone was not a thought that filled me with glee.

So we didn’t.

We set the thermostat to 50, and we left for 10 days.

When we returned, I checked all the traps. No mice. Well, one mouse in the garage, and a mouse tail there too (no idea where the rest of the mouse was. Did it gnaw its own tail off?). But no mice elsewhere. And so Denisa and I resigned ourselves to more skirmishes with the rodents.

Except they didn’t happen. No mouse sounds. No mouse chewings. No mouse signs at all.

The mice are officially gone.

I don’t know what happened. Maybe it got too cold for the critters, or perhaps they were visited by three spirits that showed them the fate that lay in store for them if they continued down this path. Maybe when we said a prayer that our house would be protected, the mice were smitten with a biblical plague, or maybe they all went up in a big mouse rapture.

The fact is, I don’t care what happened to the mice. I just care that they’re gone. (Got the repair bill for the internet fix at my house. $95. Stupid mice.) I’m definitely going the poison route earlier next year. Better a dead mouse I’m smelling in the wall than the live mouse that’s ruining my appliances.

But in any case, you may now stop holding your breath, knowing that my house is once again pest-free. (Well, as long as you don’t count me as a pest . . .)

And there was much rejoicing.

How Deep Does the Mouse Hole Go?

Okay, peoples. This stuff just got real. The internet company finally(!) sent someone out to figure out what was wrong with our connection. It didn’t take them too long: they went around pulling on wires until they found one that jerked a little too easily.

A mouse had chewed right through it.

That’s right. My mouse problem and my internet problem are *one and the same*!

Words fail to capture the exact feelings of loathing and hatred coursing through my veins when it comes to mice at the moment. Suffice it to say that I’ve ordered an additional 20 traps of various shapes and sizes. They’ll be arriving Friday, and Operation Mouse Eradication will be escalated to Code Red.

It’s a small comfort, but as I’ve talked to other people in the area, it seems like mice have been especially bad this year in many places. Maybe we had too good of a summer? I have no idea. But I do know that these rodents must go. (Not that I didn’t know they had to go before. In a way, I feel like the US Government, where the only way I can show just how serious I am about something is to go and spend more money on it, despite the fact that all my money spending to date hasn’t done a blessed thing to stop the problem. Thanks for pointing that out, smarty pants.)

And no–a cat still isn’t a viable option. I know you people love ’em, but I think they stink and they’re annoying. In other news, I’m not in a particularly good mood at the moment. Can you tell?

All mice must die!

These Aren’t Mice. They’re the Rats of NIMH

Okay. I’m not saying I have rats in my house (other than our pet Degus, that is), but I am saying that these rodents are no ordinary rodents. A serious evolutionary jump has occurred inside my walls, folks. How do I know this?

Because these mice are set on world domination, and they’ve come up with an approach that makes them practically immune to any repercussions.

Traps? I’ve set them. They don’t go for the bait, no matter what we use. They were eating our pears, so we put pears out. They stopped eating pears. Eating our avocados, so we put avocados out. Stopped eating avocados. They’ve been munching on Denisa’s African violets–anything but the things we put in traps. No peanut butter, no nutella, no raisins, no walnuts, no nothing.

So we tried glue traps, putting them right where they were coming up from the basement.

They somehow are vaulting over these traps, or they find other ways into the house. We tried the electric sonic mice repellent things. No go.

I’m beginning to think they’re doing things just to make me more mad than I already am. One is living in the wall right by our bed. At 2am every morning, it starts chewing on the wood for a good half hour or so.

Sleep deprivation, people. These mice are retaliating with *psychological warfare*!

So I decided to up the ante. I made a bucket trap a friend recommended: get a 5 gallon bucket, fill it half way with water, put a dowel across it with a tin can on it, coat the tin can in peanut butter or nutella, and then when the mice crawl out on the dowel to get the goodies, the old “log roll” action takes over, and they fall into the water.

Where they drown a miserable death, serving as examples to all other would be pear-thieves in our domicile.

The only problem? These mice aren’t going for the bucket trick, either. I’d think about a cat, but they don’t typically come out into the open. They lurk in cupboards or walls or ceiling spaces. Honestly, when one started gnawing the wall while Denisa and I were watching a movie yesterday, it was a good thing I don’t own a shotgun. I would have shot multiple holes in my wall, just to kill the dang thing.

I’ll try moving the bucket around the house some. Sooner or later, something has to work. Right?


Attack of the Rodent Horde

If there were a director I’d choose to helm a reenactment of the scene at my house every October, it would be Peter Jackson. Hands down, slam dunk, no brainer. Because whoever it was would have to be able to capture the essence of a battle that spans years, not just days or weeks.

Every year, I think it’ll go differently. I’ve made changes to my defense. I’ve plugged up holes, reinforced traps and bait, come up with new approaches that helped me win the war last year. But every year, it’s the same thing.

I picture those little rodents massing outside the walls of my house, plotting their attack routes, sending out scouting expeditions to look for breaches in the defense. And then, as soon as the cold weather starts settling in, they unleash the horde of scrabbling and scratching feet, of twitching whiskers and beady black eyes.

The mice attack in force, and they do it with gusto.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night to another one of their drunken parties–the ones they seem to like to hold right in the ceiling above my bed. I picture them in there, doing the mouse equivalent of this:

This morning, the mice made a grave mistake. Perhaps one of their biggest blunders I’ve ever seen them make. They didn’t contain themselves to the ceilings and the walls. They couldn’t settle for a clandestine scurry across the floor in the middle of the night.

No, this time, they went for Denisa’s fruit. Two pears and an apple–three more casualties of war. And if these mice were capable of abstract thought, they would know they just released the kraken.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I came home today to find a tiny row of mouse heads lining the railing on the front porch. I wouldn’t be sad to see it, either. Looks like it’s time to reload the traps, up the ante, spread out the poison, turn the defense up to 11, and get medieval if we have to.

Because these mice . . . they have to be stopped. And we’re the ones who have to stop them.

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