A mouse in the house seems harmless – at first
I write about pest control for a living, so I have described mice and rats and the problems they cause in detail many times. But it became a whole different story when there was a mouse in MY house.
A few months ago I was sitting watching television, when out of the corner of my eye I see movement. I watch in disbelief as a full-grown house mouse runs along the edge of my living room wall and disappears behind a huge shelving unit. At which point I stand up on my couch like a 6-year-old girl and think, “Eeeek! What am I going to do? I can’t live with this thing! How am I going to walk around here without it scurrying across my feet?” I am a grown woman. These are not rational thoughts, but it is initially very upsetting.
First, I think of all the things I know about pest mice:
- A house mouse can enter the home through even the tiniest crack in the walls or foundation.
- A house mouse will look for a reliable food source and set up a nest very close by.
- A house mouse will eat grains, cereals, sweets, etc. – tearing through plastic and gnawing on box edges.
- A house mouse will contaminate the feeding area with fecal matter, urine and fur, making it dangerous (and disgusting) for you to eat the food.
- Mice carry diseases such as Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), and Lyme disease.
- A female house mouse can have up to ten litters per year…oh boy.
So now I pretty much want to throw every edible item in my home into the nearest trash can. But that’s not very practical (or affordable). So I go into cleaning mode.
Removing the Mouse’s Food Source
I live in the first floor unit of a two-flat house in Chicago, and this house is probably about a hundred years old. So finding every crack in the old wood floors or every sliver of an opening along the crown moldings is probably an exercise in futility.
Instead, I start with the pantry. I pull down all of the boxes and bags and bins and begin examining. Bingo. There is a bin filled with baking goods (flour, sugar, a Baker’s chocolate bar, etc.) and it isn’t quite sealed. This is the mousey playground I needed to find. Everything is destroyed. Boxes are torn open, bags are spilling over – and there are mouse droppings everywhere. This entire bin goes straight to the dumpster outside.
Everything else looks OK. So I go to the store and purchase several new containers for the rest of my pantry items. Every bag of pasta, cylinder of oatmeal, and box of rice gets sealed away into an airtight bin. Canned goods are the only items that remain safe on the shelves.
I feel pretty confident about this new setup. No more food source, no more mouse. I mean, it is just ONE mouse right? Surely I can catch him and that will be the end of it?
Catching the Mouse
Next, I buy some humane traps to catch the mouse. Granted, a few people tell me these are worthless, but I don’t have the heart or the stomach to set kill traps or glue traps. So I have these metal cages that (ideally) trap the mouse inside for easy transportation to some happy field a few miles away. This plan is destined for failure. I carefully bait the trap with peanut butter, even bacon. Nothing is working. This little guy is too darn smart. A few weeks go by and I think “Well, I only saw the mouse that one time, and I haven’t seen any signs since. Maybe it went away now that the food is unavailable.”
And that’s when I see Mouse #2. How do I know it’s not the same mouse? Well, it is much, much smaller. PURE PANIC MODE. This is clearly a baby mouse. They are reproducing in the walls, this house is condemned and I need to move to a small island where mice don’t exist. Ok, maybe there is a more realistic solution.
Repelling the Mice
Finally I do what I should have done from the beginning. I set up a Bird-X Transonic PRO unit in my pantry. The Transonic PRO is an electronic rodent repellent device. It uses two speakers to emit sonic (audible) and ultrasonic (nearly silent to humans) sound waves that repel pests indoors. The sounds are extremely unpleasant to mice, rats and other small critters – disturbing their habitat, interfering with their communication, and disrupting their feeding habits.
The Transonic PRO device can be set very quiet (when I am home and in the kitchen) or quite loud (when I close the pantry door or when I am away). So I am able to leave the device running nonstop, repelling the mice whether I’m home or not. It only uses 5 watts which is about the same as the average night light, so power costs are negligible.
Now, since I started using the Transonic PRO, I haven’t had any problems with a single house mouse! Plus, it is a solution that I can live with. No traps and no poisons. No dread of coming home to a mouse in a metal cage. No flashes of fur while I’m watching TV. And no more mouse droppings in my food pantry.
In retrospect, when I think about the building and location – old house, first floor, unfinished basement below, vegetable garden outside that attracts critters, cold weather approaching – I really wish I would have set up a Transonic PRO before I even saw that first house mouse. Hindsight…
I’m sure you are asking “How could you wait so long when you work for a pest control provider?” I don’t know. Because it was my house. My personal space. I didn’t want to accept that it was a serious problem or that it could become a mouse infestation. There was honestly a point when I thought I hallucinated the first mouse, it was such a split-second sighting. Looking further into it meant finding the awful evidence. Telling my landlord meant traps and poisons would be everywhere (he actually seems to enjoy killing rats and mice). Out of sight, out of mind was a temporary (non-existent) solution.
But that’s my point. Writing about it is one thing, and living it is a totally different story. Now I hope I can go back to simply researching and writing about pest problems in order to help readers and customers like you.