The mouse story

Hello all! Well things are starting to calm down around here a little bit, I’m done with the TV segments I told you about next week and the house is quiet for the first time in almost two weeks – no one working here but me today. Ahhh…so nice. :)

Awhile ago I promised a follow up on our issues with some tiny little friends foes…the mice problem we had last fall. Honestly? It’s taken me this long to be up to the task of writing about the whole fiasco.

So here’s the thing – we got some clues as to what was going on in our ceilings (ewwww) but I ignored them, just not realizing. We had never had mice before, so this was new to me. Well, we had one little guy who used to live in our garage, and I swear it was just him. We only saw him a couple times and knew where he was living in there (because he destroyed ALL of my garden gloves making a bed).

We removed the storage container he was living in and never saw him again. That was years ago – fast forward to late summer of last year. I’m getting my oil changed and the guys come in with my air filter and I am all ready to say, sure, yeah, I know, I don’t want a new one….you know how that goes. ;)

But this guy has a funny look on his face and he tells me that a mouse has been living in my air filter. In my CAR. He showed me the filter, with a perfect little imprint for the mouse’s bed, and the little fluffs of stuff he had brought in there to make it even more comfy. (I would think the filter was comfy enough, but this is a mouse…I now realize how resourceful they are.) He also showed me all the bird food in the container he had stored up to eat.

IN MY CAR. Under my hood. I couldn’t believe it.

I went home and it was then that I realized a HUGE bag of bird seed we had in the garage has been busted open and was spilling out everywhere – courtesy of the mouse (mice):

what attracks mice

Even after that, I still didn’t think much of it. I figured the mouse’s bed was replaced, so he would take off to a new house. Car? Fast forward a month or so, and late one night I’m laying in bed and I hear this tiny little sound up in the ceiling. It went on for a few seconds, and I thought it was odd for sure. I wondered if we had a squirrel or something and made a mental note to investigate more.

Well, it was fall (busiest time of year around here) and my sis was getting married, so it just slipped my mind because I didn’t hear it again. A few weeks later, I’m in the bathroom and I hear it again, this time louder and longer.

And then I was starting to freak. Something LIVE was in our ceiling. I still wasn’t thinking mice though.

And then one day just after that sound, while I was in the storage room in our basement, a mouse ran right past my face on one of the shelves. I did what any self respecting woman would do – I screamed, jumped up and down wringing my hands and ran to my husband. He was all…uhhh, it’s just a mouse.

JUST A MOUSE. He said that.

The next day we picked up some traps (the kind that keep them alive) and put them in the room, and the bugger (I’m still thinking it’s ONE mouse – stop laughing at me) tripped two of them and finally got caught in one. We took him outside and let him go and kind of laughed about it -- oh, wasn’t that funny how you freaked out Sarah, we had a little mouse. So funny.

I was a mouse virgin people – those of you who have had them are laughing at me right now cause you know. Next night…kid you NOT, I walk in the room again, and a mouse runs right by my face AGAIN.

This time, the freak out was a little more dramatic because I’m thinking we have a super sonic smart mouse who refuses to leave our house. I was so naive. Turns out we had TONS OF THEM. And yes, they are super sonic smart.

We found out a day or two later when the professionals came out how bad it was. I’m not sure how many we had, but they had been living in our attic for who knows how long. They had burrowed tunnels in insulation and pooed everywhere and traveled through walls and between floors.

I was starting to get smart now (it only took a few months) and realized how I had been practically inviting them into our home. First with the bird seed spilling out in the garage, and then I took a closer look at the storage room to try to determine why they liked it so much. I found the culprit:

decorative sticks

Decorative sticks. They had practically worn a path on one of the shelves to get to them. You can see in that picture that the little pods were missing on most of the sticks. I had been feeding the mice in more ways than one.

I found other decorative items they had been nibbling on too. Then one day I went to grab something from the junk drawer in our island and realized they had been helping themselves to candy, gum and random plastic objects in there.

Talk about freaking out. They were coming up through the floor, through a small electrical hole in the bottom of the island, and eating absolutely everything in their path.

It was disgusting. This whole experience was probably the most disgusting I’ve ever dealt with. Mice are highly destructive and will eat anything. They ate half of a plastic iPod case we had in that junk drawer.

By now the pest control had set out the stuff to get rid of them (yes, we had to resort to that, no I didn’t want to, yes, it was the only option) but it was going to take two weeks. In that two weeks I tried starting to clean up the storage room but gave up – I could tell they were still coming back, even though I had removed the food.

The mess they left behind was…well, let’s just say overwhelming. And expensive. I threw away so much stuff it made me sick. Baskets, decorative items, paper goods…and it wasn’t that I was upset about losing the stuff, it was “money” I was putting into those trash bags.

Finally I gave up and had to just stop trying to get the storage room back in order. I honestly couldn’t handle it anymore. Just this week I’ve started to tackle it again – three months later. It’s overwhelming because they must have been everywhere in there – I have to take each item off the shelves and clean/sanitize or toss each one. And I have a LOT of stuff in there.

This is when the storage room was nice and organized and clean…when the mice hit it wasn’t, which makes clean up even harder:


The stuff in bins or baskets is the hardest. I wiped down a basket full of light bulbs last night – it’s at that point that you wonder if you should really clean each item or just toss it all? I’ll spare you the details, but I find all kinds of surprises as I’m going through it all.

Like I said, it is overwhelming and not something I would wish on anyone. I know in the scheme of life it’s just a blip and it’s not that big of a deal, but I’ll be cleaning up the messes they left for at least another few weeks.

So here’s what I’ve learned – first of all, if you see one, there’s usually more. Most of the time there’s more. You just won’t hear or see them until there are so many they start coming into your living areas (a few weeks after this happened a friend texted me needing the number of the guy we used because they just found a mouse climbing their drapes!!).

They are stealth little creatures – they can climb almost anything, right up the side of your house on brick or vinyl. They fit into the tiniest of holes – every house will have holes they can get into. It just depends on if you invite them in like I did. (Doh.) The guy we used said at one time he tried to start up a business where he promised to make houses “mouse proof” – he gave up on the business a few months in because he said it’s nearly impossible. Perfectly well built houses have tiny spots they can get in – in both the roof area and at the foundation.

Mice can swim, climb, jump – we heard a story how someone caught a mouse, took it past a creek on their property and let it go. The man watched the mouse hop into the creek, swim across and head right back for their house. Who knows if it’s true but after experiencing them I don’t have a doubt in my mind!

So we’ve learned a lot through the whole deal – I’m buying a large plastic (OK, I guess metal – good point!) container for all the bird seed. We had the ceiling of the storage room drywalled and anything decorative that could be edible at all (think the decorative balls/sticks so many of us use) is sealed up in bags or containers.

And no, the fact that I put mice on my stairs every year at Halloween is not lost on me:

cut out mice on stairs

We did put them up last fall, before all this hit. I had to take them down – but they will be back next year…I think. ;)

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