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Over the last few months, we’ve noticed a sharp increase in mouse activity around our house. First, there were a few droppings on the window ledge, then on the kitchen counter, and finally in the pantry, which rendered a half-full bag of peanut butter cups inedible. That was really the last straw, prompting my dad to buy a can of insulation to seal off our pantry. Yes, I know that not having an airtight pantry may have been our first mistake.
Nasty as it is to have to bleach the counters afterward, if it was just the droppings, that would be one thing. The trouble is we’ve also had sightings. Nothing wrong with that? Think again. My mom is deathly afraid of these creatures, and no amount of reasoning that they’re small and won’t hurt her can change that.
The situation has gotten so bad that when my four-year-old cousin visits, he won’t go in the dining room alone for fear of seeing one. Not even to get his beloved hot chocolate. Never mind that he’s never actually seen one in our home. He’s heard enough stories from my mom that he views it as a real threat, and between bouts of nervously glancing at the pantry, he likes to make jokes about seeing mice in her hair.
The worst part is that I have a cat.
Normally he’s a great mouser. Every summer, he spends hours going from hole to hole in the backyard, twitching his tail, quivering in excitement, and then finally springing into action. He typically brings it back to us for inspection, at which point my mother screams, and he tosses it into the air and begins torturing it.
I’m not sure what his problem is this year. Yes, he’s 13, but I’ve never heard of a cat becoming defiant and sulky once they hit teenage years. Maybe he just can’t see and hear them as well anymore. He is getting older. However, he can pinpoint the location of a can being opened from any place in the house. I’m pretty sure he’s just being selective.
At about 5 a.m. a couple weeks ago, there was a ruckus downstairs – a sure sign of a mouse attack. One had appeared underneath the pantry door, and while my mom carried on, apparently the cat just glanced at it and went back to licking himself.
So my cat is useless – we’ve established that. To fortify our home, my mom got to pursue her favorite hobby: online shopping. Several new mousetraps were purchased, all the “better” variety to prevent mess. This is working somewhat, since every few weeks we’ll hear a loud snap and find one in a trap we have scattered around the kitchen and dining room. Interestingly enough, the cat seems to know when there’s one caught in a trap, and he’ll meow and rub our legs until we set it down for him to eat.
And yet, it gets worse. If the mice were not enough, the truck that comes to fill the grain bin in the barn is now known as the rat delivery. Every time it’s here, we start seeing large rats around the barn and shed. These monsters have no fear and, according to my uncle, are nearly indestructible. More traps (four times as large) came in the mail to help, but now he just finds gnawed-off legs in them in the morning. There is some hope though: sometimes their half-eaten bodies appear around the farm and houses thanks to the barn cat, even though she’s smaller than most of the rats. Maybe she’s trying to lord it over my cat?
We’re not the only ones with this problem – several other locals I’ve spoken to have also had rodent trouble this year. When I was at my grandfather’s over the summer, a mouse shot out of the compost bin when I went to throw some eggshells away. Luckily my cousin and mom weren’t there, or they would probably never enter the house again.
So that’s the story of the mice.
It’s an ongoing battle, but we haven’t had any trouble in the pantry since my dad sealed it off. Of course, now that I’ve said that, I’ll probably go downstairs and find a dropping or two in there.
If you’ve also been having trouble (or have a solution), let me know in the comments. This is a blog devoted to Catskills life, and home wildlife invasions are no small part.