Mouse Pad

As happens every year around this time, our charming hundred-year-old Victorian bowfront limestone has been invaded by mice. I think they spend the warmer months outside – either in our small back yards or up in Prospect Park, which is just at the end of my block – but right after Labor Day each year they set up shop indoors. I’m up late most nights, and they’ve been pretty bold this time around: skittering across the floor, squeaking behind the cupboards, even jumping out of the sink when I went to put a dish in there the other night.

Usually it’s not a big deal. I get some old-fashioned mousetraps, bait them with something attractive, set them in strategic places, and typically take out three or four of the little varmints each night. It’s the big ones at first, then the smaller ones, and after a few days it’s all over. This year, though, something has gone horribly wrong. I haven’t nailed a single one.

I started trying three or four nights ago. I put out four traps, baited with peanut butter (Skippy, the professional’s choice). I toddled off to bed, confident that the Night of the Long Knives was underway. But in the morning, nothing. And the next night, the same. Meanwhile, I can tell the mice have been up all night, watching TV, snacking, downloading porn, and generally taking advantage. So I redeployed: four traps again, this time two with cheese, one with chocolate, one with strawberry jam. Not a nibble from the mice, though I did catch a waterbug with the chocolate. (I don’t like waterbugs either, but I’m after mice right now, and that poor sucker was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Collateral damage.) Since then I’ve tried various other toothsome comestibles, but to no avail, and for the mice, who by now are as emboldened as a bunch of Baathist insurgents who’ve just been watching John Murtha on C-Span, it’s all beer and skittles.

So what’s the deal here? Have I, by ruthlessly slaughtering these beady-eyed interlopers autumn after autumn, inadvertently bred a strain of trap-savvy Übermäusen? I’m starting to think that must be it. I’m going to need to devise a better mousetrap. And that means I’ll be needing a new front door as well.


  1. bob koepp says

    Know any unemployed pipers? Or try Cheerios.

    Posted September 15, 2006 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  2. the one eyed man says

    It’s time to get a cat.

    Posted September 15, 2006 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Hi all, and thanks for the suggestions.

    I don’t like cats; I think I’d rather have mice. The piper thing could work, though – he might also be handy for when the kids are home for the summer. I’ll try Craigslist.

    Posted September 15, 2006 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
  4. the one eyed man says

    I didn’t like cats either until my daughter got Mojo and Raisin. Two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard.

    We don’t have a mouse problem, but occasionally the cats find a lizard which they kill and then bring inside for us. However, sometimes they go overboard, as when one of the cats ate our hamster. Good day for the cat, bad day for the hamster.

    There are other options to solve a mouse problem — microwave ovens, for example — but you may want to rethink your opposition to cats.

    Posted September 15, 2006 at 5:06 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Maybe I can rent one…

    Posted September 15, 2006 at 6:23 pm | Permalink
  6. Jon says

    I remeber when I had a mouse. The glue traps worked well if positioned right. The mouse traps never worked for me, in fact, outside of a cartoon, I have never heard of them work for anyone. Good luck, if your mouse catching skills are half as good as the ones you used for the flies at PubSub, I am sure they will be gone in no time. If not, watch the movie Caddyshack, Bill Murray can teach you some fun ways to catch those varment!

    Posted September 15, 2006 at 7:13 pm | Permalink
  7. Kate Nicholes says

    Mousecatcher’s fact arsenal: Snap traps just haven’t worked well for us. Mice leave eachother messages written in urine. They also mark paths similarly, like ants do. Your traps probably smell like *aargh!* if they have been used before, warning even naive mice. My best result in rural mouse-infested ranch country is with the small Havahart live traps. Their tunnel-like shape and mesh material are very attractive to mice. They have a doorway at each end with a flap that falls when the central trigger tray is tilted. Mice like to scout from concealment. Put a piece of graham cracker on the trigger tray – it is a good bait for keeping its toothsome smell over several days, so after the fall rush the trap can remain ready for the occasional visitor. Raisins, popcorn, and apple also are strong mousefood smells. A dab of peanut butter on the graham cracker can’t hurt (gild the lily). At this time of year, you will probably hear it *clink* shut an hour or two after setting. If the mouse has a chance to enjoy the food, it will mark the trap with “yum”, making it more attractive to other mice later. Note that rinsing the trap will reduce but not eliminate markings… In any case, softhearted me (having had pet mice as a child but recognising the real danger of Hanta Virus to my family) after careful thought re max quick/painless now drown the captives. Might I suggest a dedicated dishpan to immerse the trap with enclosed mouse into for 10min? I add a drop of dish detergent to make the water wet the lungs faster. Re trap placement, mice like to travel discretely along walls and under furniture. I find that under a sink (finding water is of course a mouse priority) is a popular spot. In the kitchen, the toe-groove at the bottom of cupboards is a mouse highway, but I tend to bump the trap there and set it off… With the Havahart traps, you don’t even have to put the bait on the tray, and indeed I catch plenty with unbaited traps. They think it looks like a nice place to hide in, and step on the trigger tray as they move from one doorway end to the other. I place a folded newspaper or piece of cardboard under the trap to make mouse-dropping cleanup easy. During the fall rush, we often catch a mouse each night for a while (sometimes one before we retire and another overnight), then it tapers off. I own two small Havaharts and vouch for them entirely.

    Posted September 16, 2006 at 3:20 pm | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    Hi Kate,

    Wow! Thanks so much for that immensely informative comment.

    The snap traps I was using were brand new, so hadn’t been marked as fatal attractors yet, and I know all the spots where the mice go, but for some reason they were keeping away.

    But I have just got back from the hardware store, and am reequipped with a variety of weapons. I will provide an update shortly.

    Posted September 16, 2006 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  9. PDG says

    Hi there Mac- I once had a wiley mouse problem on the lower east side. Rule # 1 have no food stuffs available except the food in the traps!
    Rule #s 2 & 3 are the same- then get creative…
    I set up different sorts of Rube-Goldberg traps to confuse their astounding mental powers… The one that worked best was not so diabolical- a ramp led up to a 12″ ruler resting on the lip of the bath-tub-half filled with water, the other end rested delicatly on a innocent seeming pile of clothes (easy to climb)…there was a chunk of cheese on the end of the ruler which lured the critters up and on…then see-sawing into the drink. None lived to tell the tale and build a lore of anti-clothes pile-clammering for food…A floating ruler may leave you a coup-de grace – If yr feeling blood thirsty-pretend its Osama Bin Loose too long…
    But it may be that just switching to sticky traps along their paths will work just as well…Happy hunting
    (& God-Bless Murtha’s guts to stand up to the Military Industrial Complex that is running our nation into ruination!)

    Posted September 19, 2006 at 2:17 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    Thanks Pat,

    It may come to some rickety contraption as you suggest. I’ll post updates as needed.

    As for Murtha, he’s saying exactly what our mortal enemies want to hear. But I’m sure he means well.

    Posted September 19, 2006 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  11. PDG says

    MY only MORTAL enemies in this are the Saudis/Carlyle group and the rest of the Military Industrial Complex that keep the arms biz alive and well – with proxy wars. THEY got the ball rolling. They paid for the attacks they housed, fed and warped the maliable minds of young arab men to become twisted killing machines.
    Follow the money. The financing of these rat-bastards like Osama Bin loose too long leads to Big Oil …not some Clownish clerics pushing Sharia.
    In fact he built his rep by using CIA funding against the “red menace” in Afghanistan another false set of teeth to fight the paper tiger that the USSR truelly was… all just to keep the arms biz alive and well
    See “Why We Fight ” a movie you will love to hate but it shows the trail of green-backed tears that leads to today’s debacle.

    Posted September 19, 2006 at 11:10 pm | Permalink
  12. Malcolm says

    Pat, I knew you wouldn’t let that one go by. Look, I make no brief for the shameful past decades of US foreign policy, and I agree entirely that the unholy US alliance with the repressive Wahabbist regime in Saudi Arabia is entirely foul, and that we end up financing those who attack us. All of that notwithstanding, I still think Murtha’s position is wrong; we cannot simply bail out.

    Posted September 20, 2006 at 12:43 am | Permalink
  13. patrick says

    Hey once again into the breach ?-
    I agree we can not just bail out . Now that we have a sacred duty to see this through; now that “we’ve” done what “we’ve” done. But we need Murtha’s voice on the left to bring the center into focus and balance the full-steam ahead thinking of the Cheney/Busheroos.
    What Murtha is doing is giving a face saving option to the middle by refuting the very nature of what we have perpetrated with lies and warped misdirection.
    If this gives any comfort to your enemies it also gives a certain discomforture to my enemies and these various enemies have more in common than they have disimilarities.

    Posted September 20, 2006 at 3:15 pm | Permalink
  14. Malcolm says

    What Murtha is doing is giving a face saving option to the middle by refuting the very nature of what we have perpetrated with lies and warped misdirection.

    There is no middle. Either we stay or we go. Making us feel crappy about why we are there in the first place is beside the point.

    If this gives any comfort to your enemies it also gives a certain discomforture to my enemies and these various enemies have more in common than they have disimilarities.

    So your allegiance lies with the insurgents, to whom Murtha’s words give obvious comfort and encouragement? I can’t believe that. You may not like the shady dealings of Bush & Co., and the Carlyle Group, and the Saudis (and I don’t either), but is this really the side you’re backing?

    Posted September 20, 2006 at 3:50 pm | Permalink
  15. pdg says

    Hi there Mac- Man we see this thing very differently!
    I do not see the sides drawn up the same way you do. I believe that the whole situation is the construct of the neo-fascists WHO ARE the Military Industrial Complex. I believe they created the jihadists to keep the world situation hot -create a need for weapons, for war and to drive the price -not the cost- of oil up and up.
    The CIA got Osama Bin Loose too long …started keeping the last false war against the Red Menace -(remember that one?). going.
    I was in Moscow in the late 70’s and those folks were not a menacing threat as we were lead to believe at that time.
    It has been shown that 9/11 need never have happened . Both the Clinton and Bush administrations followed bad advice -from the military and the “Intelligence” community that allowed the tragedy to go down.
    The 9/11 commission said it never need happen! & the 28pages about the Saudi’s paying for the attacks was almost expunged by the Bush adminisration. WHY?
    The Saudis paid to train, feed, transport and sustain the hijackers. Yet the Saudi royals and the Bin Laden family were among the VERY few people allowed to fly right after 9/11- this under Bush aministration orders!
    The Saudis created these monsters and set them loose just to maintain the emmense wealth of their partnership with our President’s cronies at the Carlyle group and other miscreants of their ilk- At Exxon & Haliburton et al…
    I do not blame the brain-washed hijackers as much as I blame the monsters who created them. The hijackers were victims as well- driven crazy enough to do such a heinous and self-destructive thing. Those who drove them to such extremes are to blame. Those dupes are just ignorant tools of Bin Loose too Long who is an ally of the neo-cons now in power here in the USA.
    This struggle is not about religion or culture; that is the front being fed to us. This struggle is about the oil companies and other industrial rapists of our world wanting us to be distracted from the harm that they do to our world in the name of profit and “the status quo”.
    The Bush administration is doing this country FAR MORE real and lasting harm by attacking the basic principles of our Constitution then the hijackers did on 9/11.
    That is why believing these new lies about who “OUR” enemies are is foolish to me. I saw the people of the USSR at a time when they were still the Evil Empire. That was a lie then.
    I do not see the tools as being evil I see the men creating and wheelding the tools as evil. The jihadists are doing the bidding of the neo-fascists that are running our new world order.
    Bush’s administration is much more allied to the goals of the jihadists -by undermining the Constitution in the name of a false danger that his pals created- than he is allied to the interests of the American people.
    Our leadership is selling us out and you are buying the lies that are being used to sell a false war a false enemy and the path to a very bleak future.
    Bin Ladin and Bush are on the same team. They may not realize it themselves but they are creating the scenerio between themselves for total power to fall to the militarists. Follow the money!
    I am on the side of freedom from fear not fear mongering. Using the weapons of evil makes us evil, creating demons from men in our own minds only distracts us from seeing the power behind the fools and dupes(BUsh & the Hijackers et al)- who are strung along at the behest of those who manipulate them -mostly with more lies- but different lies to each side…
    This whole situation has been fabricated for the enrichment of the MIC. They are my enemy. They have no morals no values other than money they have no conscience , or humanity.
    Ike warned us and now his warning has gone unheeded or at least not acted upon. The MIC has come home to roost.
    And our values as Americans suffer. We spend on an average from 1/4 to 3/4 of what many other nation’s spend to give children lunches in public schools. We build weapons but not schools, because we have been lied to and bought into the scare tactics.
    I know who and what my enemies are Mac, & they are not the poor fools being brainwashed into attacking the abstract idea of America that they have been told is a great Satan. Those are just more humans who’ve been lied to and corrupted.
    Those who create and lie about Global Warming are my enemy. Those who arm proxy states to attack each-other so more arms can be sold (and keep oil prices high-a2fer!) these are my mortal enemies.
    I choose my own enemies and I do not allow the amoral lies of corrupt politicians to decide such matters for me.
    SEE- “WHY WE FIGHT” & also “ON NATIVE SOIL” between the two admitedly biased films, my enemies are made clear. I know who I need to fear, & it aint the iidiots being brainwashed….Tho they can be problematic!- its the powers behind the powers that create and develope the scenerios that become our history…
    You know them as Cheney’s pals, and Rumsfelds cronies, Bush’s handlers and the New World Order…Sorry this was so long!

    Posted September 21, 2006 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  16. pdg says

    Sorry I didn’t mention the freedom fighters you call the insurgents…They want their country back and they are doing what you and I would do if the USA or Canada were taken over by a foriegn power.
    And we are far better equiped to understand the world – picture than they are likely to be if they come out of the brain-washing “schools”…
    That they are being mis-led is likely and their backers are probably double-dealing & lieing to them too – But I see their handlers – again as the very same people who Bush is working for. He is not working for the good of the American citizenry, not by a long-shot! Bush is working far harder to protect Saudi interests then yours or mine with this attack on Iraq instead of the real enemy – Saudi Arabia et al…
    For me – humanity is humanity if Americans are killed to protect oil interests or arabs are killed to protect nationalistic interests neither are my enemy.

    Posted September 21, 2006 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

One Trackback

  1. By waka waka waka » Blog Archive » Turning the Tide on September 23, 2006 at 12:19 am

    […] Yup, that’s right. I’m sure you’ve all been wondering, ever since reading about the murine invasion I limned in this space a few days back, how the fight has been going. Well, frankly, the results have been discouraging. Despite my full-theater deployment of a fearsome array of state-of-the-art weaponry, the enemy had, as of late last evening, taken no casualties. Around midnight, however, I was seated as usual at the dining-room table, about to enter the gibbering Voodoo trance that summons each day’s blog post from my innermost plimsoul, when I heard the sweet and sudden report of a spring-loaded Victor mousetrap, hard by the sideboard. I waited a dignified moment for the surcease of post-mortem synaptic activity, then trotted over to gloat. Sure enough, there he was – a doughty, grey-clad, battle-hardened warrior, fit and sleek from the fruits of my larder. With infinite respect I lifted his now-lifeless form and flushed his mouse ass down the toilet. […]

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