Before moving here, mice were not part of my reality. Up until now, I can probably count the number of mice I’ve seen, outside of a lab, on two hands and not use all of my fingers. My mother’s house in a rural town in Southern California in the mid-1970’s was my first encounter. She hated mice. I thought they were cute. It wasn’t until decades later that I was introduced to rats, specifically, the urban loving Norway rat. I. Do. Not. Like. Rats.
Rats like to live in groups. They like to breed. They will eat and drink anything. They are bold with a capital B. Nothing scares them. Their ability to move through their environment is phenomenal. They will chew through just about anything and they have the nasty habit of appearing in unexpected places like, in my gardening pots in my garden shed back in California. But that is a story I won’t inflict on you.
However, I can proudly say that my pirate is very brave (IMHO) and battled them back and then cleaned out the shed and secured it against future invasions. I also can happily say that my son-in-law is no slouch in the rat fighting department either. His efforts broke the dam that swept the nasty critters away setting the stage for the big clean-up and re-enforcement against said future invasions. So, whilst my experience with mice is minimal, I am well acquainted with rats. Then I moved to Caruthersville.
Buying a house, sight unseen except for lots of pictures - thank you, Monica Smith at American Elite Realty - especially a house that is 72 years old, will no doubt come with a few surprises. But the joy of getting this house on THIS street in C'ville was a true childhood dream COME TRUE for the pirate and, for me, that simply made all of the surprises merely interesting challenges. So far, we've been checking things off our fix-it list one item at a time. When a house is so old you need to have a lot of patience and simply take the long view on getting things done. However, there was one battle I had not expected. While the house was well maintained and bug and spider free, it had sat empty for a while and this made it an irresistible lure for mice. Lots and lots of mice. Omigoodness, so many mice.
Unlike most if not all of the people I've met since arriving here, I was completely clueless about mice and their habits. Needless to say, I soon learned. Mice are nocturnal. They don't like bright lights. They are shy and prefer to hide. Amongst themselves, they are very social. And like rats, they breed and eat anything and everything. And what they're not eating, they're chewing up to create nesting material. The thing about mice is that they are so darn cute. They're Disney cute and I've never been bothered by them. They find particular hangouts and stick to their routines and routes. If it was just one, I probably wouldn't be too bothered. The thing is, they don't remain at just one. So, our mouse hunt was on.
People are surprised when they discover how zen the pirate is about all living creatures. He and St. Francis of Assisi would have been great friends. But even the harmless pirate understood that mice don't belong in a house so he successfully ousted at least two separate raiding parties in the 4 months we've been here. The mouse kill has been substantial but he does have his limits. Whenever a mouse was merely caught, usually by a foot or tail, he would gently carry it away from the house and release it, thereby allowing nature take its course. I'm guessing that one of those courses was a route, right back to our house.
People in the know about this suggested, and rightly so, that he might as well hang out a welcome sign. I just sit back and shake my head. I figure if he's doing the heavy lifting of making our house a mousie killing field, who am I to critique the methodology? And speaking of methodology, the other thing I learned about mice is that they can't chew through steel wool. After verifying this with a few locals who have had their own battles with mice, the pirate went to work scouting out holes, cracks, etc. in an effort to keep the little critters out, And, while I trust he has found most, if not all, access points . . . well . . . have I mentioned that I also don't mind snakes? I wouldn't mind have a gopher snake making a cozy home around our foundation.
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