Not at the moment. There is no mouse in the house. At least, none that has made its presence known. I was going through some old articles and came across the following posts, which originally appeared on Families.com, as a series, almost five years ago. Fortunately, with our fixer-upper now insulated, the little critters of the wood seldom make it in to the house now. Well, we still have an adventure of some sort at least once a year: field mouse, raccoon, screech-owl, weird neighbor, etc.), but we are much better at keeping the outside, well, outside.
I grew up seeing the city rats scuttle across the subway tracks, so when I hear the word “rat,” I picture something very different from the creatures they got up here. You know what I’m saying?
In the middle of the morning, around 4 am or so, I heard this loud scratching sounds. Fearful that our youngest son somehow got up and was getting into trouble, I headed downstairs, half asleep. When I got down, I found my husband with a flashlight and his head cocked to one side.
The scratching started up again. “Is it a mouse?” I asked and he shushed me. I complained under my breath about our less than stellar extermination company; the one that failed to show up for the last two appointments.
My husband opened the garage door and started tip-toeing in to take a peek. The scratching started up again. It was more like a loud scrambling. “It is coming from the basement,” I said.
After some investigating, he said, “Actually, I think it is stuck in the wall. It must have gotten in through the hole in the garage that the guy put there when he backed in to the drywall (the previous owner), and it can’t get out.
Immediately, I thought of our stockpile of food in the basement. “Is it going to get our cereal?” At nearly $5 for a box that lasts less than a day in our house, I had my priorities in order.
“No, it would have to chew through a lot of wood to get through,” he said. Okay, so maybe large holes in the walls and chewed up electrical wires would be worse.
“Can’t we scare it back the way it came?” Since the thing was scratching and presumably chewing the whole time that we were talking and shining lights on and off, the possibility of it was admittedly small. Still, my husband wanted to humor me. He got a wooden stick and started banging the wall of the basement, on the stairs, on the other side of the garage. Bang bang bang. He waited. Silence. Bang Bang. Silence. After shining the flashlight back into the garage to see if the mouse escaped, my husband sat on the family room couch and waited. He made himself comfortable and I shot him an indignant look. Wasn’t he going to DO something about the mouse?
The scratching started up again, and with a sigh, my husband, at my prompting got to banging. I coached him on technique and frequency. When the mouse fell silent, we would retreat back to the couch to wait. Then the noise would start up again. At one point I suggested using the vacuum cleaner to suck the mouse out of the wall.
I suppose I got the idea from watching the family movie, Mouse Hunt. Even though that method didn’t turn out so well for the home owners, I figured it might be worth a shot. I was getting desperate. And for anyone who is a mouse rights activist, instead of throwing stones at me about the harmful treatment of mice, please feel free to come over and gently coax the mouse to safety. Guaranteed that after the first 20 minutes, you will be ready to throw your stones at the mouse instead.
“No,” my husband said, shaking his head. “I don’t think it would fit.”
“What do you mean?” Panic started slowly crawling up my insides.
“Judging from the sound and the size of the last one that I found (just outside of the garage a few weeks ago), it is big. Very big.”
I thought about long sharp teeth, red eyes and the bubonic plague. Would our insurance cover the bubonic plague. Your mind goes everywhere at once when it is 4 am, I guess. “So is it really a rat?”
“We need,” he paused for emphasis. “The shop vac.”
What happens when you combine a former city chick who has seen rats the size of small cats, a handy husband that is surviving on too little sleep and a mysterious “something” with an appetite for a 45-year-old house in the woods? Chaos, I tell you, chaos.
When I last left off, I was telling you about our adventures with a mystery rodent. Let’s call it Godzilla, so you don’t confuse it with that cute little epicures mouse in Ratatouille. Better yet, let’s call it the ROUS (rodent of unusual size); with teeth.
I hate to be anti-climatic here, but the fact is that my husband and I needed some sleep in order to have our wits about us and prepare for our battle against ROUS (with teeth). After a few extra bangs for good measure, I went upstairs to bed, while my husband decided to make himself comfortable on the couch, to act as sentinel in case ROUS (with large teeth) should give him an opening. He just settled down with a throw blanket and closed his eyes. He rolled over once and then again. Just as he drifted off to sleep, the scratching began again (and were those chomping noises, too?).
With a sigh, my husband got up and headed into the garage with a crowbar.
The rest of the early morning passed uneventfully.
The weekend, however, saw about a fourth of our garage wall ripped open. My husband was not about to fool around. Inside the wall, among the insulation, were tiny bits of chewed up black plastic. The mouse trap that the exterminators had placed in the garage three months ago was rendered into a kind of confetti that ROUS (with really large teeth) must have used to celebrate its good fortune and superior skills. I could picture it doing a little full-on butt wiggle in the direction of the family room.
Despite of the destruction to the garage, there was no ROUS in site. I did an Internet search for photos of dead mice to post around the garage as propaganda in a brilliant interrogation plan. My three-year-old wanted to know if the ROUS (with really large, sharp teeth) could invite Mickey Mouse to our house.
It was time to call the exterminator. You might be surprised by what he found. I know I was.