Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hickory, Dickory, Crap.

I accidentally acquired a chinchilla about 5 years ago when a friend asked me to watch him while she was on vacation and then refused to take him back. He's a cute little guy and we have a symbiotic relationship that is based entirely on me giving him banana chips and craisins and him giving me big puppy eyes that send the message "more craisins please!". Chinchillas are generally pretty solitary dudes and so I thought Mr. Grumps preferred the bachelor life free of chinchilla ladies who, one assumes, will not shut up about how you never clean up your cage (human ladies have also been known to bitch about this). However, recent events seem to indicate that I have misjudged Grump-n-stuff, in his old age he seems to be inviting friends over to party down at his place.

The fact that my crib was a new trendy hang out first became evident a couple of weeks ago when I turned on the kitchen light and *thought* I saw a scurrying in the corner. I chose to deal with this potential situation in the same way I deal with the very slow drain in my bathroom and how bad my hair looks most mornings: ignore it in hopes that it'll go away. No such luck. On the 19th when G and I returned from our preChristmas Christmas celebration we were greeted by a special holiday gift from my apparently very appreciative house guest(s). Mouse turds. On my couch. Now I know that admitting this discovery likely means that none of my human friends will ever come over to my house again but honestly I'm not that troubled by the presence of a mouse (or, heaven forbid, mice) my general feeling is "hell, this beats bugs." Which isn't to say that I want them to feel welcome.

Soon after cleaning the poops off of my furniture G caught sight of the poop maker crawling swiftly up the side of the chinchilla cage. And what was the chinchilla doing while his abode was turned into a jungle gym? Chilling in the corner all nonchalant and "oh, hey little dude, how's it going?" Obviously I had to have a little chat with Grump-a-roonie. I let him hang at my place, rent free I might add, and he goes and invites over a bunch of other rodents to mooch off the free grub? Talk about not earning your banana chips. But once the lecture was over I had to stop stalling and actually confront the mouse situation. We moved the chinchilla cage away from the wall and discovered two things: 1. A huge gap between the floor and the base board known as The Transcontinental Mouse Highway and 2. The world's largest collection of mouse turdlettes. Again, I know everyone now thinks I live in squalor but remember this: I haven't seen a waterbug in over a year.

There was much talk of mousetraps but despite the stirring of mice it was mere nights before Christmas and I was on my way to California for 7 days the next morning. Ultimately I decided that I would rather come home to a mouse infested house then a dead and possibly rotting corpse. Instead we stuffed all of my excess brillo pads into the mouth of the mouse hole, pushed the cage back against the wall and went to brunch.

Special note to Amy: So now you know that I let you come over and feed Grumpzilla while a mouse scurried about. Sorry, I realize this is especially cruel given your painful history of mice infesting your room in college but I couldn't let Grumpers starve so I figured what you didn't know... and look, you lived through it! Don't you feel stronger?

It took less than 12 hours back in the NYC to discover that The Rodent Boom Boom Room was still in operation. As we sat lounging on the couch bemoaning the passing of days spent lounging on the couch the little mouse invader again scaled the chinchilla cage. This time we were on to the bugger. G saw him on top of the cage but did not spy him climbing down and with a cursory review of the covered box that I keep on top of the chinchilla cage (and full of chinchilla food) found a mouse sized hole gnawed into the back corner. Figuring the mouse was trapped I told G to flip the box over so the hole was on top and the mouse was (hopefully) trapped inside (you'll note that despite my lack of mouse shame I am still unwilling to touch the box that the mouse is inside of, this is how I retain my girl status). We stuck a book on top of the hole and I sent G to release his catch out into the cold outside far far away from my house. He had barely gotten down the stairs when I heard the screams.

Apparently up until that morning my boyfriend didn't know that mice could crawl up walls and his little heart (and lazy little feet) wanted to double check that the mouse was in the box before he ventured down the street. So he removed the book from the hole and his curiosity was rewarded with a face full of mouse. Were this a cartoon or a snippet or America's "Funniest" Home Videos here is where we'd cut to the "Mouse: 1 Humans: 0" scoreboard panel. If you, like me, are holding out hope that a mouse can't possibly be brazen or smart enough to climb back upstairs and return to the scene of his capture you would, sadly, be wrong.

So we resorted to traps. I went into the drugstore with the intention of buying some hippy-ass no kill traps but apparently much like organic food and shops selling hipster knick knacks Astoria isn't ready for letting their mice run free. So in an attempt to further alienate myself from everyone I know ("She has mice in her house and she kills them! dirty and evil! let's string 'er up!") I bought your standard "put cheese here and watch mice die a gruesome death" traps. Now, every morning I wake up and steal myself to peak inside of the box in hopes and fear of finding a mouse corpse. But, despite my best efforts, my homicide record is still clean. Of course this means that my house is infested with some super smart race of mice that is untrappable, next thing you know they'll raise an army of waterbugs and I'll be forced to live on the street.


Anonymous said...

Been there and have exhausted myself with humane traps, stuffing steel wool everywhere and not keeping any food in the apartment (sort of the natural state since we don't cook anyway). The humane traps are humane because they don't work!

Two words for you: Glue Traps. Gruesome but effective. Don't let the haters shame you. Mice are my nemeses (nemisises?). If you want this taken care of, let me know. I'm from Brooklyn...I can fix this kind of stuff.


Gillian said...

You can borrow Memphis! She loves a good mouse hunt! But... make sure you shake out your shoes when she's done. I'm just sayin'.

amy said...

I hope you're baiting those traps with peanut butter. That is the tastiest snack for both mice and my puppy.

I want you to know that I was reading your post thinking "I can not believe she didn't let me know she had a mouse when I went to feed grumpy!" when I got your little note. Thanks for thinking of me. Sort of.

And you might want to replace the pretty chinchilla food box with some sort of super-industrial tupperware.

lfar said...

despite my best efforts, my homicide record is still clean.

You're the best.

dtb said...

Time to get a cat. Seriously.

alia said...

one mouse died in the humane trap (if you forget to check it for two weeks while your wife is in england, it stops being humane)

one mouse died in the glue trap (the smell of chemical-fake peanut butter is yucky)

one died in the Electricuting Black Box of Death mwa ha ha ha

one mouse died in the couch. i like to think it died while sam was jumping up and down in raptures to "Wonder Pets Save the Baby Mouse" cosmic/poetic justice and all that.

one last mouse keeps pooping on the stove, dammit. maybe we'll try the pilot light method next...

kfinnefrock said...

From my years in Philly, I perfected a mouse trap that involves no touching of a mouse:
- place chocolate on snap trap & set its spring
- place trap just inside a brown paper bag on its side
- then when mousy goes inside and gets snapped, you can just see the tail from the outside of the bag.
- pick up the bag and never touch the mouse!

(I tried the humane traps first, city mice are too smart for those! At least the snap is faster than glue...)

Good luck!