- Ignore the small signs at first. An acorn in the laundry basket, a stray pumpkin seed on the basement stairs.
- Find the signs you can’t ignore. Droppings on the basement shelves where your mother’s seed packets are lined up awaiting spring planting. Look closer: the packets have been raided, the corners chewed off, seeds of sunflower and squash scattered like shrapnel.
- Admit that your home is occupied territory. New droppings have appeared every morning: buried like land mines between stacks of papers on your desk, strewn across the keyboard where you are not writing your novel. Research extermination methods until your mother, a science teacher who keeps turtles and frogs in the classroom, calls you and insists on mercy for all creatures.
- Choose defense instead of offense. Pack steel wool under the doors, barricade the rooms with scented dryer sheets. Read on the internet that mice do not like to walk on aluminum foil. Buy five hundred square feet of it and cover the kitchen counters. The next day, examine the tiny warpaths carefully nibbled through the foil.
- Recognize that you know nothing of the ways of mice; that no place is safe. Your childhood dollhouse has been breached, its front door shoved open, droppings on the tiny welcome mat. Each room of this little house has been invaded, miniature chairs kicked over, dishes the size of your pinky nail pulled from cupboards.
- Receive a package from your boyfriend, who lives in the city. Its contents: three silver traps for the humane capture of live animals, size extra small for mice. Bait the traps with peanut butter and leave them overnight in strategic locations.
- In the morning, discover the traps sprung and empty. Study the trigger mechanism more closely, and try again. Then, finally: success! Three traps, three well-fed little prisoners blinking large dark eyes.
- Release the POWs on a warm October morning in a forested meadow seven miles from your house, where the grass is heavy with seeds and dew.
- Begin reconstruction in the postwar world. Caulk the holes in your walls and dismantle the clutter piles. Clean your childhood dollhouse. Arrange the little chairs around the table, put the tiny dishes back in their cupboards, brush the felt carpets. Breathe easy knowing that universes great and small have been restored.
- Months later, take an old photo album from the basement shelf. Open to the photos of your mother’s first communion, where, pressed between the pages, you find a single, perfect pumpkin seed, ready for planting.
What would you add to this list? Tell us at www.orionmagazine.org/enumeration.
Love the tip about the mice not liking aluminum foil. We go to our summer cabin every year and find mice droppings in the drawers. I will line the drawers with aluminum foil next time we go. Thanks for the tip!
Dropping any one off miles from their home, especially small animals that are prey to many other animals is almost guarantees their death. Mice, as all animals including humans, have territories to live in and when suddenly removed from those homes, have a hard time of it. Better to mouse proof your home even if it’s a bit of trouble for you.
Dropping any one off miles from their home, especially small animals that are prey to many other animals almost guarantees their death. Mice, as all animals including humans, have territories to live in and when suddenly removed from those homes, have a hard time of it. Better to mouse proof your home even if it’s a bit of trouble for you.
There are a number of problems in this list. One of those is a focus on the physiology of mice/rodents. Mice come first, rats just follow. They are both nocturnal omnivores. That means that they have a highly developed – and sensitive- sense of smell. At night they rely mostly on their smell. They follow urine trails to guide them to where they and others have been for food. So if you want to drive them away, disinfecting surfaces and leaving stainless steel or earthenware bowls of pungent disinfectants like Dettol or Pine-sol will create a disorienting olfactory environment for them. It is akin to radar-jamming. That way there is no need to kill or displace the rodents – they just know their space and humans know theirs.
Consider integrated pest management: Start with building a Screech owl nesting box. Recognize natural predation and protect your local wildlife. Possums and shrews are resourceful rodent hunters. Appreciate the role snakes have in rodent control.
T Hayes: I love your comment. Only problem is that in the west we have those invasive Barred owls who prey on our Western Screech owls….. Any chance that Scott Pruiitt will initiate an environmentally friendly programme for easterners to take back their Barred owls?
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