The Mouse Wars

If you recall, when I began cleaning the basement at the start of the shutdowns at the beginning of the pandemic; I discovered a small mouse nest and some mouse poop along one corner of the basement.

Editing Jenna here, reviewing this post before it goes live. And I have to warn you. This post is looooooong. And contains one graphic image. Perhaps that seems obvious from being titled with the word, “war.” But in case it wasn’t obvious, I meant it when I titled this post war. You have been given notice. ☠️

Tyler and I had different thoughts about the mice. I was upset and concerned about getting them out. Tyler assumed the nest and subsequent poops were carried downstairs from a time when the boxes now occupying the basement were sitting in the garage. (In other words, the mice were a byproduct that came into the house from the garage, and did not enter our house of their own volition).

So I cleaned the mouse poop all up, and set some snap mouse traps.

And we never caught a single mouse, nor did I see any more evidence of nests.

Until…..this summer. I found another nest inside the plastic tub that I used to store my off-season shoes. I was upset, but the tub wasn’t covered very tightly with its lid…and there was once again no mice anywhere or signs of mice anywhere else. Was this a nest built the same time as the one from earlier in the spring? Or were these new tenants?

I continued to go in and out of the basement as needed, changing out seasonal clothes, looking for kitchen utensils and other items we kept stored away without seeing any other rodent activity.

But then the furnace broke (as I mentioned recently). And damn…it seemed like mice poop had started to show up everywhere. There was even a small piece of mouse poop at the top of the stairs…and Tyler played out this scenario where he imagined the mice were sitting up there, trying to decide if they should slip under the door into the freedom of the kitchen.

Tyler mentioned this new mouse development was likely because I had garbage bags sitting out with clothing to donate-perfect homes for mice nests. So I hauled fifteen bags of clothes upstairs and threw them into our dumpster lest they contain mouse droppings (which are harmful to humans-the poop can cause severe illness and death- and therefore I felt I couldn’t donate or sell the clothing if it was contaminated with poop and I didn’t want to open each bag and find mouse poop or nests).

If that wasn’t bad enough, then came the final straw. One Monday in November, I went downstairs to add an old coat to my less warm coat pile and I was appalled. My red J-Crew Wool Stadium coat I had purchased a few years earlier for marching band season had the lining chewed through and a mouse nest sitting firmly between the lining and the wool. I pulled down all the coats to find two more nests-snuggled in a cardboard box of old sheet music and a tub with old photo albums. A dried rose I had saved that Tyler gave me before we started dating was broken apart and crushed in the box. A casualty of the mice.

I was fuming. I was so mad I’m sure my skin was bright red. I pulled the bins and coats and music out of the basement, with mouse poop covering it all, and chucked it into the dumpster as if the act of throwing it would hurt the mice.

Then I put on my boots and flannel coat and went back into the basement. Once downstairs I said (I basically yelled) to the mice that this was War. And they weren’t going to win. I was done being polite and it was going to get ugly…if they had any sense, they’d find their way out of the house. (Yes, I did rather dramatically yell this to the mice). It was Day One of the Mouse Wars.

I asked Gus to come for a ride in the car and we headed to Bomgaars. I headed towards the farm and pet section and went up to the first employee I saw. “Where are the mice killing traps?”

“One aisle over.” He pointed.

I stared for awhile at the options and then the employee who pointed me towards the aisle joined me and asked, “Find what you need?”

I was still riding high on my anger. “I live on an acreage and these mice have dodged the traditional snap traps. I need to get serious about killing them.”

“Glue traps are the only thing that really get ‘em. Pretty cruel though. Get the rat sized ones, otherwise they can pull the small glue traps with them. It’s not pretty, but I live on a farm and it’s really the only thing that’ll work.”

“Thanks,” I replied. And I filled my cart with glue traps, poison, mouse repellent spray and poison traps. All in all, I bought $100 worth of mice murdering devices.

Once home, I set up the poison traps and glue traps all along the outside walls and wherever piles of poop were in the basement. I put poison out along the window sills and sprayed the stairs with a peppermint repellent. I plugged in an electronic repeller at the stop of the stairs. And then I continued on with my day.

Electronic mouse repeller.
Poison trap.

Day Two. The next morning will forever be burned into my mind. I didn’t sleep well, worrying about mice running around the house. And when I went downstairs after I walked Gus, it was horrific.

The one picture I took of the mice I killed.

The poison traps had no mice. The pieces of poison were untouched. But the glue traps. I had caught three mice in the glue traps .

It was so incredibly inhumane. One of the mice was dead already. But two of them were struggling. One pulling out their fur and laying in a pile of vomit. The other squeaking and covered in shit, with its ear stuck to the glue as it kept trying to lift its head.

I nearly puked myself. But I steadied myself, grabbed some plastic bags, and folded the mice into the bags. They squealed and screamed as I took them outside to dispose of them.

And then, as tears streamed down my face, I set out three more glue traps.

I didn’t eat that whole day.

Day Three. The next morning, I had caught two more. No, not in the poison traps, but in the glue traps. Only the glue traps. Both still alive. But this time, I had expected it. I had come downstairs with plastic bags and a big stick. I used the stick to bash in the mice’s heads so they wouldn’t squeal and suffer anymore than they already had. And I brought the traps and dead mice and murder stick out to our dumpster, with a steely determination I had to dig down deep to reach.

I was out of glue traps at this point, so I returned to Bomgaars and bought them out of all the rat sized glue traps they carried. 13 in total. I knew it was the worst way to catch a mouse, it was torture, it was cruel. But I had declared War, hadn’t I? And they managed to avoid all the other kinds of traps. And their poop can kill pets and people. I’ve always known that I could access a part of me that would allow me to be ruthless in a situation such as this one. But the way your heart twists and tears when cruelly killing a creature just trying to survive (that doesn’t have any control over its killer poop) can bring you to a pretty dark place. The house felt wrong. It reeked of murder. And the murderer was me. But I still set out the new glue traps as soon as I arrived back home.

Day Four. Now the mice began to fight back. Poop had grown by leaps and bounds. It’s as if they knew their only retaliation to us humans was to kill us with their poop. (Or possibly burn the house down by chewing on wires). The poop was along the windowsills, in a spider’s nest, alone every wall and even in the middle of the floor. It was as if my murdering rampage was making the mice shit all over the basement. The poop increase threefold that morning, it was an impressive comeback and helped steady my resolve to submit to being an evil and cold mouse assassin.

On the fifth day, I was shocked. The traps were all empty finally, but the poop issue kept growing. So I grabbed some foil and went around plugging any sized hole I could find to see if I could pinpoint how the bastards were getting in the house. Most holes I found were by the recessed windows. And then I lined the windows with chunks of poison mouse bait.

Foiling any spots I could find.

Day six. The traps were still empty. It felt great to not have to bash in the skulls of any mice after my morning walk with Gus. But, one of the holes in the spray foam foundation had its foil removed and the hunk of poison I set next to it was almost gnawed down to nothing. The hole had also increased in diameter to an impressive degree. The foam around this hole had fresh chew marks. I had them now. They had mistakenly alerted me to their entrance and now I could cut off their access.

The increasing hole the mice chewed in the insulation.
The gnawed down poison.

I reset the foil and stuck a piece of poison in the hole. Then I informed Tyler of the hole situation (hahaha! who doesn’t love a classic double entendre).

On day seven, Tyler came downstairs with steel wool and spray foam to plug up the holes. The mice had removed the piece of poison I plugged the hole with and chewed it almost gone and Tyler began plugging everything we could see with the steel wool and spray foam. The traps were empty, but piles of mouse poop now sat beneath the two windows. The poop situation was escalating quickly.

Day Eight and Nine. The traps were still empty. I moved around the glue traps each morning to try and catch them off guard. The places Tyler plugged up appeared secure.

On day ten, I prepared to clean the basement. A spray bottle of bleach and water, mask and gloves, and garbage bags. I sprayed down the poop, cleaned it up with paper towels and bagged it. Once it was bagged up, I vacuumed everything I could get around.

It’s now been months since I’ve had to kill any mice or clean up any more poop. Their access points have been secured successfully, at least for now.

I will keep checking every morning, and if I have to, I will hit mice caught in glue traps over the head with a stick. You can’t let your guard down when it comes to lethal poop, chewed wires causing house fires, holes through insulation and ruined wool coats. I will remain steadfast in my determination to rid our basement of mice. For now, it’s a relief to have retired my assassin duties. But make no mistake. I will always win the War in the long run. I will protect my home, whatever it takes. And all mice will fall. ☠️

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