Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Mice, Damn It!


So the other day The Missus Herself is getting ready to steam up some rice, she's in the washing process and keeps pulling something out of the rice, looking at it intently, then setting it aside. I'm only semi-paying attention, I think I was toasting an English muffin. After a bit, she seeks my counsel...

"Honey, what is this?" Holding a small grain-looking sort of thing. Grain-looking, but not grain.

"Uh, that's a mouse turd. You need to dump all of that rice, clean the pot and your hands really, really well."

"Mouse turd?"

"Yup."

"Crap."

"Precisely."

So it seems that we once again have a mouse problem here at Chez Sarge. Surely, you say (you know the rest), how can you have a mouse problem? You have two cats!

Yes my precious, we do indeed have two cats, two very senior cats, they're 16 years old, essentially 80 years old in human terms. Hunting is no longer something they do well, truth be told, Sasha was always the hunter, Anya is more of the laid back, live and let live cat of the duo. In fact, the feline staff don't hunt at all anymore, and the local mice have gotten cocky.

So it's up to me to bait and place traps, then to dispose of the evidence. But this reminds me of a time when the cats, well Sasha, were deadly hunters indeed.

(Source)
Jumbo, Felix One. I have movement at my two o'clock.

Copy Felix One, monitor, do not engage at this time.

Felix Two, Jumbo. Mount up, grid coordinates fife-niner-two-three-niner-six-fife-one.

Two.

Jumbo, Felix One. Contact is hostile, I repeat, hostile. Engaging now!

As I sat on the couch, perusing a sporting event on the television, I heard mad scrambling from the stairs leading down into the basement. Coming to a higher alert state I sat up straight and spied a small gray creature wriggling out from under the basement door. With a look of panic upon his small visage, he turned in my direction and came towards me in full grunt. As I sat there, flabbergasted that this tiny rodent would have the temerity to charge me, I then understood what all the commotion was about and why the wee beastie would challenge me in my own lair.

Through the cat door came Sasha, fangs bared, hair on fire, and ready to rumble. She was in hot pursuit of this tiny gray animal and had every intention of destroying it. After first, no doubt, making the wee mouse regret ever having been born. (There is nothing quite as cruel as a cat with time on its "hands" and nothing better to do than torment something.)

The mouse veered off at the last minute, Sasha bent to her right and pulled Gs as she tried to turn inside that mouse. But the angles were all wrong and the mouse managed to find sanctuary in the radiator in the living room.

Crap...

Felix One, Jumbo. Do you still have contact on the hostile?

One, Negative. Hostile has gone to ground, repeat, hostile has gone to ground.

Jumbo, Felix Two. On station, Felix One in sight.

Copy Two, stand by.

Two.

Sasha slid to a stop where the mouse had disappeared. She was as alert as only a cat with the scent of prey in her nostrils can be. Her sister, Anya, had ambled into the room to see what all the fuss was about, with one glare from Sasha, Anya sat down, well back from her sister. For those who don't know, Sasha is the Alpha. No one challenges her. Not even the humans, well except The Missus Herself, she is "Alpha Actual" at Chez Sarge. All I do is "pick things up and put them down."

With said Alpha Actual away for the day, it devolved upon me to take command of the situation and provide support to the hunters. I was kinda the on call air support, if you will.

Jumbo, Felix Two. I'm going in...

NEGATIVE TWO! HOLD POSITION, I SAY AGAIN, HOLD POSITION!!

As Anya's curiosity overcame her better instincts, she just had to get closer. Sasha turned and hissed at her sister. With that, the mouse broke cover and scrambled for the kitchen.

Crap...

MOVEMENT! I'VE GOT MOVEMENT, TWO YOU SEE THAT?

Two.

The mouse sprints to the kitchen and into the radiator there. Two cats in hot pursuit. Human close behind, ready to provide support. Mouse comes out of hiding, Sasha feints, mouse back into hiding. Checking the clock, I note that Alpha Actual should be home soon. There is no way she will appreciate the "mouse in the house." I know it sounds kinda cute but this ain't Mickey Mouse, this is an actual rodent.

So while the cats keep an eye on the mouse's last known location. I go get "The Equalizer." It's a broom. With the brush end I can swat the mouse to death should it break cover. With the other end I can poke it to death if it's in concealment, rather than cover. (Cover hides you and protects you. Concealment merely makes it hard to spot you.)

Jumbo, Felix One. Hostile's position is just inside the tree line at the northwest corner of the AO.

Roger One, Jumbo has eyes on the target. Rolling in hot.

Jumbo, all friendlies stay clear, deploying the broom handle at this time.

One.

Two.

The mouse was wedged into the very corner of the radiator at the northwestern side of the kitchen. The hole where the pipe entered the radiator from the basement was not big enough for the mouse to escape through. It would try to move down the radiator to the other end but Sasha kept poking her paw in there. The poor wee beastie was cornered. Nowhere to go.

Jab. Bang. It's over...

Jumbo, that's a hit, confirmed kill, no need for another pass. Hostile is down, repeat, hostile is down.

Jumbo is RTB at this time.

One.

Two.

Just after I had sent the mouse to the great beyond, The Missus Herself comes into the kitchen from the deck. Everything in the kitchen which could be moved, was moved. Nothing was left to hide that mouse except the radiator. Both cats were sitting there, still staring at the radiator, and I was kneeling nearby with broom in hand.

"What is that red stuff on the end of the broom?" The Missus Herself inquired.

"Blood."

"WHAT?"

"Honey, there is a dead mouse in the radiator. I'm going to dispose of the body now. You might want to go into the other room for a few minutes."

"But why is there a dead mouse in the... Oh." With that Alpha Actual departed the AO and I fished the expired rodent out of the radiator. Disposing of the wee corpse in the small woodlot adjacent to our abode. Returning to the manse, I cleaned off the broom and put it away.

Sasha was slightly peeved that she no longer had a mouse to "play" with. Anya, who isn't much of a hunter, truth be told, had already wandered off, show was over, nothing to see here. Move along.

Things do get exciting in small town New England from time to time.


And yes, I have other mouse stories, none of them end well for the mice.




44 comments:

  1. Most excellent post. I really enjoyed the tactical play by play. Well done! I hope the new mice read this and find somewhere else to patrol.

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    1. I have posted it throughout the basement as a warning. 😁

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  2. From the title, I thought the post was going to be about your computer interface device. :-)

    Glad you intercepted the bad rice - would not have been pleasant to see the grains of black rice on your plate. One reason not to use wild rice in areas prone to rodents, perhaps?

    It's amazing to see the wild beast emerge from the kitty at times like you relate - ever look at the impact of a house at on the local bird/lizard/rodent populations? I think it's humorous that little Aunt Zoe, who is an avid and zealous protector of animals, enables such wanton destruction of the local fauna by maintaining a herd of house cats that she dotes on.

    I also liked your tactical play by play - and TMH's comments. Well done post, Sarge!

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    1. The wild is not far beneath the surface of the domestic cat.

      Thanks Tom.

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  3. Nice tale, and a good illustration of the pair of broom handle mousers.

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  4. Admire your photography skills. The photo of the cats on the stairs is of professional quality, IMO.

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    1. Thanks, they're very photogenic, which helps.

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  5. The little buggers are in my loft too (and I’m an ocean away!) despite my Gary Larson’esque efforts, with enough mesh for a correctional facility. And the squeak shall inherit the earth

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    1. The little bastiges are adept into squeezing through very small holes!

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    2. Sticky traps, spring traps, poisons galore and eternal vigilance. These are the tools of the trade. Just dispose of the bodies before they start rotting, which is why I prefer sticky and spring traps rather than poison or poisson, because either of the two 'p's will raise up quite a stench.

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    3. Spring trap is my weapon of choice for rodents, results are immediate and obvious

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    4. Saw online a CO2 powered trap that stomps a rodent. Being CO2 powered, you didn't need to reset after each time - just replace the cartridge once in a while.
      You'd still need to clean up the remains, unless the cats get to it first.
      Frank

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    5. What will they think of next? (The whole "build a better mouse trap" saying springs to mind. Pun intended.)

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    6. I have a trap line, as I live in the country. Most of my traps are standard snap traps, but I have two TOWCAT plastic traps, that will bifurcate a mouse. I also have a electronic mousetrap, that lures the mouse in, and when it has it's front paws on one pad, and the rear paws on the other, the mouse completes the circuit. Two AA batteries are good for 50 mouses.

      Of my cats, Monty, Tyrone, and Lazarus were good hunters, Tristan, the 27 pound Siamese Tom, was an amazingly good hunter. Thomasina, the long haired calico, was the the angel of Mousedeath.

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  6. IMHO, cats look for opportunities to employ their natural skills.
    At the top of the list of those skills is sleeping.

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    1. Good observation, very true.

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    2. Somewhere near the top of the list is following their humans by walking in front of them, while the humans hands are full.

      I don't know if they are actively trying to kill us when they do this, especially if they suddenly discover a piece of fur that needs to be licked and they fall down in front of you to lick said fur, or if it is just some weird attempt to suck up landmines for their humans. Or something.

      Never really enjoyed it when my cats did it. Now I have a 100lb dog that does the same thing, including disappearing under my vision field and suddenly flopping down to lick his nether regions. So far I've only lost one plate of food due to this tactic (which he was not allowed to clean up, thank you very much) but I've gone off-road on him and managed to put my foot through his face a couple times (not purposely, but I don't walk slowly, so M*V(squared)=E and dog don't like it. Neither do I, as one of these days it's going to be a full knockdown on his part which will result in me falling on him and nobody wants that.

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    3. Yes, that behavior is problematic. I have learned to keep them in sight at all times when I'm "on the move," especially at night.

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  7. Mice are like roaches. If you see one there's a multitude. If you see more than one, either your eyeglass prescription is wrong, you have suffered a head trauma or it's time to call in the professionals (dun-dun-DUNNNNNNN.)

    You don't want an infestation of the buggers to get permanently camped, especially as all anti-mouse forces are getting too old for those reindeer games (and I do mean 'all' are getting too old.)

    Enjoy trapping, baiting, and trying to figure out how they're getting in (besides through your not-totally watertight basement...)

    Enjoy the war. Keep us posted. Write if you do good deeds...

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    1. The slightest gap anywhere in the house is sufficient for them to gain entry. I blame the very cold December we just had for bringing them indoors. It's been quite a while since we had a mouse problem. Which will be solved.

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  8. As to the 'live and let live' philosophy, we had a rodent get into our basement last year. The cat looked at it, the rodent looked at the cat, then they ignored each other.
    Frank

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    1. Anya is like that. In her younger days Sasha would go after them just to hear them scream, she's a killer that one. Or was...

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  9. I had a rat infestation a couple of years ago when we had a very hot, dry summer (by UK standards that is). I'm sitting in my back garden when I hear a scrabbling on the fence. No drama thinks I as the local squirrel population use my fence as a highway and we frequently see and hear them using our fence as a highway. Anyhow, I glance up and see a rat. A very big and old grey rat. From that point matters escalated. They didn't get into the house but they were in my garden shed. In the end I opted for full spectrum warfare. I drew the line when one ran over my feet as I was enjoying a beer outside. I emptied my compost bins, emptied the bird feeders and removed any source of sustenance. I used poison and varying the bait you use in each bait box works. The old fashioned rat trap baited with chocolate spread was very successful, dispatching several. It took about four weeks of concerted effort. Rats are wary and cunning and don't like anything new, which is why it takes several weeks for the bait boxes to take effect. Anyhow by September my garden was declared rat free. Where did they come from? No idea as I live in suburbia and no one leaves rubbish or food out. I think the hot weather lead to a population explosion and the old and young were driven out.
    The old spring traps work well and if you want to splash the cash I'm told the CO2 traps are good. If nothing works move. Or take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
    Retired
    BTW the local cats were useless and appeared to have signed a non-aggression treaty with the rats. A Border Terrier would have done the job but alas there were none to be had.

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    1. I've had long term experience with six cats in my existence. Two cats growing up, not at the same time, but the first was a ferocious hunter. If it moved, he hunted it. Squirrels were a favorite of his, bigger and more of a challenge than mice I guess. The second cat was very laid back, the non-aggression treaty sort I guess. Later in life my own family has had two sets of cats, the first were two brothers, one was a hunter of prey on the ground the other only went for insects, the flying sort. A fairly good team. The two we have now, well, I just told their story didn't I?

      As to trapping, I'll get to that soon. We did it once before with great success, but Sasha was younger then and worked the areas with no traps. A real "combined arms" team we were.

      I've heard that Border Terriers are Hell on rats.

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    2. My middle brother and other kids made good money from the local municipality one year. They got paid to walk behind the city's tractor-towed mowers and play whack-a-rat with shovels. The local egrets (white, heron-looking birds) loved the pinkies they found. The local grackels (kind of like ravens, except mean instead of smart) loved the flattened rats. And the 3 pair of peregrine falcons along with the local osprey (fish-hawks) loved the ones that tried to run away.

      It took the city about 2 years to knock the rats out once the rodents got established.

      And all the kids with BB guns were encouraged to shoot any of the rodents they could. Actively encouraged by both police and city officials.

      Those were good times, the late 70's. Can't see that happening today.

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    3. Wow, the good old days indeed!

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    4. BTW the local cats were useless and appeared to have signed a non-aggression treaty with the rats

      Your cat adoption protocol should include an interview where you ask their view of Donald Trump's Iran policy. If they think there's something to be said for his approach, pass the applicant through to the next level.

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    5. It was more of a Molotov-Ribbentrop type of thing with defined spheres of influence. The local cats just aren't interested in rats/squirrels unlike farm cats. Border Terriers are hell on rats but they are a bit lively and need to kept occupied full time. They are great little dogs if you work outside but not a dog to be left alone for extended periods. They're also the only small dog I'd be happy to be seen with.
      Retired

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  10. I shagged one out of the garage the other day. When we first moved in here I noticed some D-Con bait stations in places in the basement. I should probably put fresh ones in, and maybe a couple out in the garage.

    I remember my Dad setting out the old wooden spring-bar-bust-your-finger traps when I was a kid, and occasionally hearing one go off at night.

    My Sweet Little Wife would probably freak out if she saw a "Mouse in the House".....

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    1. (Don McCollor)...another weapon is a mouse early warning system. A half dozen kernels of popped popcorn laid out. When the kernels disappear, time to set the traplines...

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    2. (Don McCollor)...once for work, I was tending an air sampling station and to stay a week alone in an old farmhouse. Walked in the kitchen for the first time. A dozen set mousetraps on the kitchen counter. Another dozen on the floor and a ring of traps around the fridge. Opened the oven - three more in there. Five or six in the cupboard under the sink (one occupied). My first thought was "Well, I won't be lonely"...

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  11. A good mouser is a thing to cherish:

    https://borepatch.blogspot.com/2010/04/cat-3-mice-0.html

    But you told the story better than I.

    I probably should have added that Crash chased the mouse into #2 Son's bedroom, where it hid under his bed. While that was where we stashed his toy boxes (he was 8 at the time, maybe less), that didn't stop Crash who dived in after his prey. #2 Son said it sounded like World War III under there.

    But the best was when (11 year old) #1 Son got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and stepped on a mouse body. Good times, good times.

    Yeah, I hear you on the New England house thing. It gets cold, wee beasties come inside, mousers have some kinetic targets.

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  12. Unfortunately it is not just in New England that can get an invasion of mice. Last winter, while the husband was away, and just after my kitty died, we had an invasion. For some unknown reason the entry way for mice in the house in MI was up inside of the stove. They would pop out the rear right burner (gas stove) and hop right over to the counter that was right next to the stove. Then they would wander at will. Until I would notice black rice like turds on the counter. Eeewww!!! And I would notice the cat staring fixedly at the stove, or at the fridge, which was just to the left of the stove. My husband once said why is the cat guarding the fridge?? Lol.
    I am a fan of the snap traps. And peanut butter. Or really sharp cheddar cheese. Both are effective I have found.
    My total that go round was 6 bodies. Mom, Dad, and littles. Queen Trapper is my nick name.
    The cat was disgruntled I didn't share, but threw them over the bank in the back yard.
    When he was younger, he used to catch them, kill them, and I would come out in the morning to find bodies next to the trash can. A bit disconcerting, that was...

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    1. I plan to bait my traps with peanut butter, worked well in the past before Sasha got her first kill.

      After that we didn't need traps. But now she's apparently retired and doesn't want to hunt. I get it.

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  13. The things can be terribly destructive. $8,500 damage to my Mom's car. They had to gut the thing and rebuild from the wheels up. After fixing the car and sealing up mouse doors (and eliminating mouse food) we went with the professional exterminizater. Only about $40/month and he's got the nukulear stuff.

    If you want a substitute mouser, select that C-96 Mauser. If you can find a 1919 Austrian pattern re-chambered for 8 mm Gasser you're on the right track. Fiocchi is only $0.75/round. You'll get over-penetration with the other chamberings. The Gasser probably won't even wake your cats up.

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    1. Mice did a number on Wehrmacht tanks in Russia, ate the insulation on the wiring. Not sure why they didn't eat Russian insulation, perhaps they were Commie mice?

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  14. New reader and liking the blog so far. Living up in Maine, the mice have started their annual pilgrimage into the house, our 18 year old just watches them and if they get too close puts out a paw - quickly. Our other cat is a 5 year old cat will cause a commotion then our Jack Russell gets into the fray. Usually at that point, I have to get out the glove of doom and have to retrieve the carcass or create a carcass. Lots of fun especially when the women folk start hollerin and the dog is barking and attempting to grab the mouse while the cat is hissing telling us all to get to heck away from his mouse. :-) Yep gotta love it.

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