Tuesday, April 20, 2010

If you give a mouse Doritos… he’ll tear apart your house!!!!

Parental warning: This blog may contain language unsuitable for younger audiences. Parental discretion is advised. Hahaha!

I have always thought the “If you give a mouse a cookie” book was very cute. And I’ve liked the books that followed.

I’ve never had a problem with mice. From time to time we’d catch one in the house, and we’d simply scoop it up and take it outside and release it into the tall grass. We’d find them in the barn if we didn’t get the lid tight on the grain, we’d scoop it up and let it go outside the barn.

When I began working in our store, I hated selling mouse traps. I should state for the record that I have no problem whatsoever selling rat traps. Rats are gross and they don’t evoke any sympathetic stirrings in me like cute little mice do. So, I hated selling mouse-traps and I would always try to get people to buy the live release traps and simply let the mice go outside. Some people would give them a try, and if they came back later for the snap traps, they always managed to do it without me seeing them.

I always try to talk people out of buying the glue-traps because they seem very cruel to me. The poison works quickly, the traps are (in most cases) an instant death, but slowly starving and dehydrating to death seems downright cruel, even for a rodent like a rat.

I’ll never forget the night that my whole family was sitting downstairs watching tv and a mouse came running out of one corner of the family room, ran out into the middle of the room, past the 2 cats who were sleeping in front of the fire, and into another corner before we caught it and put it outside. My cat Tiger opened an eye, and watched the mouse run by and couldn’t even be bothered to lift his head, much less chase the mouse. My mom’s much younger cat Phoebe didn’t even wake up. I thought the little mouse was awfully cute, and we sent it on its way, laughing about our incredibly effective mouse prevention lying by the fire.

Another important part of this story is my love of the color Cobalt Blue. It’s been my favorite color for as long as I can remember. When we got married, I got a popcorn bowl that was cobalt blue and had white popcorn kernels popping out of the side of the bowl, and it said “Popcorn” in white letters. I LOVED this bowl, and took very good care of it. One night however, it slipped in my soapy hands and hit the side of the sink and cracked. It had been discontinued and therefore I couldn’t replace it. I asked a customer of mine who does ceramics if there was a way to fix it and she said no. So I started hand-washing it only and being VERY careful with it.

Now we’ll fast forward to 2 years ago. Matt and I had been in our new home less than a year, we’d had our dog Lucie for just a couple months, and I heard a scratching in the attic one night. I told Matt about it, and he had me bring home some Decon and he put it in the attic. We thought that would solve the problem, but sadly, it didn’t.

A couple nights later, I woke up about 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning because there was all kinds of crinkling and crunching by my side of the bed. I jumped out of bed and heard scurrying. I turned on my lamp, and there was no sign of the furry menace. However, I surveyed the wreckage on the shelf of my nightstand. There, in my beloved popcorn bowl was a shredded bag of Doritos and mouse turds. I knew there was no recovering from this so I picked up my bowl, and went down to the trash can outside my garage, and bid farewell to my cobalt blue friend. I went back to bed, and fell asleep fairly quickly. About an hour later, I woke up to hear more scratching and scurrying in our room. This time Matt and I both got up and started searching for the unwanted visitor who was disturbing our rest. Again we came up almost empty handed. I didn’t find the mouse, but I did find the tattered remains of my microwavable heating pack that was full of flax seeds and had fallen on the floor after I’d used the night before. I picked it up and scooped up as many of the fallen flax seeds as I could muster without a vacuum.

We went back to bed again. Less than an hour later, we woke up again, this time the scratching and scurrying seemed to be coming from our bathroom. Again, no luck.

When our alarms went off the next morning after a largely sleepless night, my whole live and let live attitude towards mice had changed significantly. I told my husband, “I want that little bastard DEAD! And I want him dead NOW!!!”

I’m sorry to say that didn’t happen. This mouse continued to plague my house for a full month. I think that he had access to the same ACME products catalog that Tom and Jerry, and the Roadrunner had. We tracked his movements, but were always a day behind him. I opened my cupboard to get potatoes out to make dinner, and pecans came cascading out. I went through that whole cupboard and had to get rid of probably $100 worth of food and baking supplies that the damn mouse had helped himself to. Pecans, walnuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and all of my potatoes! Each night after putting Lucie to bed in the garage, Matt would set out all the traps. We had spring traps, live release traps, poison, electronic pest chasers, and finally after about 3 weeks, glue traps. The morning I woke up and found a perfect cartoonish mouse hole chewed out of the carpet on my stairs, I found myself feeling more and more accepting of glue traps.

My poor husband was hunting this mouse during his days off and after work in the evenings. He had crawled into both attics, under the house, checked all the foundation vents, and had the house pretty well sealed up. We don’t know how the mouse got in, but he was stuck, he wasn’t getting out alive.

Finally one evening while we ate dinner, Matt and his friend Dan discussed where the mouse could possibly be hiding. We determined that the only place left to check was behind the dishwasher. So after we finished dinner, I headed upstairs while the boys pulled out the dishwasher. They had armed themselves with thick leather gloves, flashlights, and I think a hammer. Now, I didn’t witness this part visually but I heard every single word. I heard the dishwasher thump and bump it’s way out, and then I heard Dan’s voice shoot up an octave as he shouted, “OH SH*T, OH SH*T, THERE IT IS!” Then I heard muffled thumps and a “Dammit!” Then I heard Lucie (who was about a 5 month old puppy at the time) start barking, and at this point I had to come downstairs to see what was going on. As I got downstairs, I heard a door slam shut.

Apparently Matt had reached into the dishwasher insulation where the PREGNANT RAT, not mouse, but pregnant rat, had made her nest. He picked up the sleeping rat and was walking away from the dishwasher with her. When he went to tighten his grip a little bit on her, she woke up, and it was ON!

She jumped out of Matt’s hands and took off into my living room. Lucie sprang into action and started chasing her. Lucie chased her right into my open pantry where Matt slammed the door, and we started formulating our next plan of attack.

We knew she was sealed in there, and that there was no way out. The guys decided that the only way to get the mouse/rat was to empty as much of the stuff out of the pantry as possible and make room for one person to go in. My pantry is a long narrow closet that goes back under the stairs, so the roof slopes down the further back you get. There are shelves built onto one wall and so there is about 18” of open space to walk in. We removed all my cleaning tools, and Lucie’s food container, and a few other odds and ends. It was sort of a bucket brigade emptying out the pantry, and when it was as empty as we could get it without taking all the food off the shelves Matt went in.

To fully understand the humor of this part, it helps if you’ve seen “Young Frankenstein.” The scene where he goes into the lab with “The Creature” and tells Igor, Inga, and Frau Bleucher, “No matter how much I scream, no matter how much I beg, do not open this door.”

So Matt goes in, and Dan shuts the door behind him, and then stands with his hand bracing the door at the top, and his foot wedged against it on the bottom. Perhaps he thought the mouse had a battering ram? Lucie stood at the door at full attention, all of her Pointer blood was in charge at that moment, and she was ramrod stiff pointing at that door. After a few seconds of silence, we heard a triumphant, “HAHA, gotcha little bastard!” Then the thumping and scuffling began in earnest. It was a full scale battle in my pantry, and we knew that only one of them would come out alive. I had a moment where I wasn’t sure which one it would be. As Matt told it, there was a minute where the mouse was soundly kicking his ass.

There was a scream, presumably from my husband, and then several scratches and thumps at the door which cause Dan to redouble his blockading efforts, while yelling, “You ok man? You need me to come in there?” Apparently the mouse was running and leaping at the pantry door, and hitting it with a pretty resounding thud. Matt yells back, “I’m ok, but tell Steph to bring me the glue traps!!” So I gather up the glue traps and Dan opens the door a crack so we can shove them in.

This next part is where I got queasy. Up until this point it had been hilarious watching these two men and a puppy fight this mouse. (I know it was a rat, but we had thought of it as a mouse for so long, that I can’t help but call it a mouse.) Matt finally managed to slow the mouse/rat down by throwing a glue trap at it. It got stuck on the tail, and the second that mouse knew she was stuck she began squealing. That was awful. Matt managed to get her stuck between 3 glue traps so she couldn’t move.

I was hiding in my laundry room with my fingers in my ears at this point because I couldn’t take the squealing. I heard Dan yelling for me, so I went out into the dining room, and he told me that Matt needed a plastic bag, and something heavy to hit it with. I start running around, and all I could find was Matt’s shoe. So I grabbed a few plastic grocery bags, and his shoe. We passed these weapons of mouse destruction into the pantry and there was some more squealing, and the crinkling of plastic, and several loud “THUMP’s”.

Then there was silence. Dan released the door, and it opened and Matt came out holding a large wad of plastic bags in one hand, and his shoe in the other. Lucie sniffed the bags and growled menacingly at the dead rat, and Matt took it out to the garbage with Lucie hot on his heels, leaping up trying to take it from him.

That night, there was much celebrating in the kingdom of Mundenville and the villagers slept peacefully for the first time in a month.

The story was retold many times, and much like a fishing story, the rat got bigger and bigger. I stopped into City Hall to pick up Matt’s paycheck and the ladies there wanted to hear my unedited version of the story because the version they heard from Dan had him casually saying, “Oh look man, there it is,” when they located it on the dishwasher.

I wish I still had the picture that was drawn on the white board in the police department. It depicted Matt dragging the rat by the tail, and the rat was bigger than him, and it was captioned, “And I killed with my bare hands.”

And that is why you shouldn’t give a mouse Doritos… Not sure exactly what would happen if you actually gave the mouse a cookie, but I do know from painful experience what will happen if you give a mouse Doritos!


  1. Stephanie

    You are such a talented writer. I so enjoyed your story and could just picture all the different things happening. Glad the guys caught the darn rascal.

  2. ...and I thought the pack rats in Wyoming were bad.

  3. BARF!!! If it were in my house I would move out! I dont do mice/rats..nothing! sick sick sick!!!! Thankfully its not in my house..and we ARE getting traps tomorrow!!! I dont want it in my garage no more!! Barf!