Saturday, December 18, 2010

Warfarin' Stranger

I usually wear earplugs to bed. This habit began years ago not due to a snoring spouse, but because I was being driven half-crazy by the scratching, gnawing, squeaking sounds of a mouse. When it became clear that my usual arsenal of poison, traps, steel wool and even the occasional 'cat for hire' wasn't enough to keep them at bay (especially in the fall and winter), I resolved that if they were going to have their way in my kitchen at night, then gosh dern it, they would not rob me of my sleep.

Growing up on a farm, I was used to the sight of mice, although usually in the jaws of a cat. But that was long, long ago. I so wish I could deal with these little problems with the poise and matter-of-fact calm I once possessed as a nine-year old barnyard explorer.
But no. I scream. City life has turned me into a wuss.

I should stress here that although I am by now quite familiar with mus musculus, this is not an indication of an unkempt house. I practice good, solid housekeeping skills, all my dry-goods are in jars or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, and I have plugged and re-plugged every single crack, hole, and crevice I can find. But aie, there's the rub. They know the place better than I do. Some people mistakenly believe that only drafty 100-year-old houses have mice. Wrong-o (they have ghosts). Mice can squeeze through holes the diameter of a pencil. A PENCIL!!! So don't underestimate those tiny crevices. They are a mouse's portal to Nirvana!

For those of you who share my plight but are new to the game, here are few tips I've learned over the years.

BARRIERS: Medium steel wool is best for plugging holes. Jam it in there real tight. If they try to chew through it they'll cut the insides of their delicate mouths (plus it's a killer on those fillings). Silicone and expanding insulating foam are totally useless. They chew through that like buddah.

TRAPS: I find the old fashioned snap traps the most effective. As mice have very poor vision and navigate mostly through smell (hence the poo-trails) they are wary of new obstacles in their paths and may avoid traps despite the tempting food (although they can also be finicky eaters). A very effective tip is to place a few unset traps out for a few days to let them get used to running over them, sans conséquence. Then bait and expect results. Also, wear rubber gloves in order to not leave any human scent on the trap. Place traps in groups of two or three with bait side against the wall, in areas you suspect they frequent most.

BAIT: I've tried lots of different mouse trap bait options. My current favourite is cold BACON GREASE. I've also had success with raisins and peanut butter. Despite ubiquitous representation throughout the history of popular culture, cheese is not their preferred choice. I've had a few remarkable experiences with bait disappearing without the trap being set off, which baffles me to this day. I have actually tied things like popped corn, nuts, etc. to the lever, and they somehow managed to get away unscathed.

DISPOSAL: Once the deed is done, don't just toss the whole shebang in the garbage. Lift and separate! If you can't bear the sight of the thing, cover the whole mess with a plastic bag and feel your way through it to lift the snapper and release the vile creature into the trash. Come on! Channel your inner farm-girl and be a man! No toilet disposal either. That's just stupid.

EXTERMINATORS: If all else fails (or your nerves are just to fried to deal with it anymore) it may be time to call in the pros.
Like most exterminators, Poulins Pest Control has a great sense of humour. I'm not sure they still do this, but for years this Winnipeg company had one of those roadside signs with changeable letters that usually advertise specials, etc. They had a rotating roster of so-bad-its-good pest themed puns that made the drive to or from the Norwood Bridge just a little brighter. Anyone out there in Winnipeg-land remember any of them? (Brother Don - this one's for you...) Their site is super informative. As you can read in the 'About' section, the business began, circa 1946, as a result of the death of the young Poulin boy's puppy by a pack of rats. Talk about revenge!

Word on the street has it that many of today's rodents are resistant to the once ubiquitous warfarin. This immediately conjures horrifying visions of "super-mice" (Mighty Mice?) who will one day grow the size of bears and strangle me in my sleep. But in the meantime, there are other, more potent products out there that are keeping us at least one step ahead. Products such as: Rodend! Ratak!! Ratsak! Pestroy!! Pestoff!!! (emphasis mine!)

Of course, as most people's advice dictates, I could just "get a cat!".
Sure, but then I would have a cat.


Wayfarin' Stranger

1 comment:

eddierapide said...

Whilst living at that fabled address, 240 Balmoral Street in Winnipeg, mice were among the varieties of vermin with which we had to contend. "Ratak" was one of the products we tried ... but my favourite product name was always "Gopher Doom"!