Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mice Hunt

A lazy saturday night. A prolonged dinner with lots of chit-chat. In the midst of a dreamy conversation, I noticed something moving fast, thanks to my peripheral vision. And thanks to my coordinated judgment I deduced it was heading right towards my feet. And it had a tail. Reflexive shriek (make it shrieks), plates in the air, mindless leaping and I landed next to N and climbed on top of a chair. My worst fear was - what if it was a lizard... or some other American reptile, just bigger and nastier. I was prepared to even leave the country.
"What is it?" I demanded. "It's a mouse!" was the reply.

Hearts pounded and both of us looked violated. How dare it?!! Well, first question. How did it come in?!! And where is it now?! The space beneath the oven? The living room? My room?!!! You may call it paranoia to assume that a house mouse might instantly scurry into my room, of all places. Well, mice (and their ilk) have an affinity towards me, my room, my shelf (in that order). I have my facts verified, for there was one chubby mouse that dedicatedly clambered up three floors worth of water pipe, to get into the living room and then run for it's life through the dining room, through the corridor, to unfailingly scamper into my room and then hop into my shelf, of all the shelves there were. This was back home in India. After my living on the dining table for two nights, and after futile attempts to catch the little creature via a trap (rather a box) with masal-vada, there was a ravaged search conducted by our maid and watchman, with the use of broomsticks and other handy devices and the mean fellow was captured and let loose a street away. That very evening, our faithful friend found his way back to me, my room, my shelf. Suffice to say I never let people open the living room windows again. Or for that matter any window, for weeks together.

Given this history, my natural reaction was to turn a little hysteric, when standing atop the chair and wondering where mouse1 went, there we saw another flurry of brown fur and tail, disappearing into the crack next to the dishwasher. This was mouse2. Our worlds were turned upside down. N seemed positive that mouse1 looked smaller than mouse2, which could mean that there was one mama and plenty of tots. Mice tots unfortunately have plenty of siblings. I don't know why a chair which was a measly foot off the ground, gave me so much security against these furry creatures, much smaller than me, and probably far more pissed off and terrified at my shrieks, than I was of them. Still I decided to stay there and called for help. A knight in shining armor of sorts, rudely awakened from sleep was made to roam the streets to find an open store that sold mouse traps. Till his return, N and I faithfully stood (and then sat) rooted to the spot, peeling our eyes to update the mouse-counter, and their appearance and disappearance sites. None came by. My mind was playing the movie, "Mouse Hunt" several times, wherein the mouse plays a Tarzan-like trick and jumps from the chandelier, while N made sure to point out that they might have already nibbled on many things, and they might bite us in our sleep, thus passing on Rabies. Sleep? Me? In this house? Ha... I could see myself being wide awake with my feet tucked up, and keeping watch all night till the mice were out of the house. I was focusing on cleaning measures, disappointed that our kitchen could attract such pests. Time to change the disinfectant? Wait... when was the last time I used disinfectant on the floor? Wet Swiffer does not equal disinfectant! I was horrified at myself, deeply regretful of our ignorance. As I was cursing my hygiene routine, N gasped suddenly and concluded thusly, "If there are mice here, then there will be snakes to eat them, and if the mice presumably came in through some broken vent, the snakes can come too!" I HATE worst-case analysis. "There are no poisonous snakes in this area....", I muttered. "Maybe we should get a cat", N continued, "but problem is how do we potty-train it..." Hmmmm....

Thankfully the mouse traps arrived shortly afterward. I wasn't relieved yet... mice don't just fall into traps. It takes time. As N was loading the trap with peanuts, I asked "Wait, this looks like the ones used in Tom and jerry. How can we release the mouse?"... and then I read the back of the cover, "It kills them!!!" I was stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. I didn't want to kill the mice! For one, it's inhumane, tragic and there could be mouse-babies, and the other reason is, well, it's just gory and messy and stinky! Knight-in-armor was not inclined to hear me whine and plead for a humane trap. This was it, else I could spend the night with mice partying around, and look for a humane trap in the morning. N continued to load the trap with extra peanuts and started leaving trails of peanuts from the cracks near the oven and the dishwasher. "We're saving ourselves from Rabies", was the answer. The decision was made. The kitchen door closed, lights shut, I made my way to my room, wary of furry things with a tail as I walked. I couldn't get myself to sleep - I wanted to tune my ears to the sound of the menacing traps snapping, and yet I tried not to. I looked under each crevice and nook in my room and after being relatively satisfied that there was none around, I contemplated stuffing the crack near the door with a cloth, to block unwelcome visitors.

I kept myself occupied with reading and browsing, not letting myself fall asleep lest my toes be nibbled on. My mind drifted to the scene that awaited in the morning. If they were dead, how would I face them? Worse yet, if their tail gets stuck like Jerry's and they are tied down to the trap, albeit alive, what would we do then? Did the mice really have a little family? Like Ratatouille? Like Despereaux? What will the babies do? I was reminded of Phoebe from Friends, living with rat babies - for all my talk on vegetarianism and equality to animals, I have sunk low. "Another selfish hypocrite. In the end, I was atop the food chain and I flexed rules to suit me. My pretentious analysis on morality has changed nothing - I am territorial to the extent of not letting any creature into my house, my space. Not even house flies. I live in a bubble and make empty noise. Evolution has changed nothing. What if I do let a mouse live with me, what would I name it? Brownie... wow, it's been a while since I had a brownie, as a matter of fact even chocolate. I ate MnMs today though.. I like the blue ones. I guess it's because I like the color blue, even my blanket is blue. Its a little chilly... it's Fall, what to do. Hope it doesn't get too cold this year.... " and I drifted off to sleep.

The harsh sun jolted me out of sleep and I was instantly up on my feet, scanning my vicinity for shredded blankets and furry things with tail. I contemplated whether I was bold enough to go downstairs. No, I decided. N came in a couple of minutes later, announcing, "They are dead...both of them". "Oh! Is there blood?", was my concern. "No, they were suffocated that's all. Will you come help me dispose them?" Oh GOD! "ME?! I am too scared!", "They are dead!", N stressed. So I finally went, although all I did was stand petrified staring at the sprawled brown bodies with tail. N cleared them muttering, "C3H trace of mice. They are wild mice". N's expertise on dealing with white lab mice for genetics research. For my part, I disinfected the area and went up to complain and whine to people. I killed mice! Boohoo.

Then I googled. After an extensive research on humane traps, I found that Amazon sells a couple of products, this and this, among others. There is this person who has invented and patented his humane trap. And of course there are other smart people having devised simple traps like this one and this successful video demo. To be frank, so many solutions to humane traps saddened me. It would have been better to console myself if google had returned no results. With potential mice babies around, and after having massacred the mama and papa? (mouse 1 and mouse 2 seemed to be of the same size in the morning), we fear more. Rather than ramble and make such a big fuss, it seems like a wise idea to order one from Amazon.


SecondSight said...

Cant stop laughing over this.. Maybe I should gift you a pet snake? Mwah-hah-HAH !!

A cat is actually an excellent idea.. they're pretty low-maintenance from what I've heard:) And so cute !!

Neeraja said...

Pet snake?! Mercy please :(. I'm not so fond of cats though... they are also threats to potential fish! ;)

priti said...

hahaha....I was going ROFL when I read your post the other day cos the same day I realized that our pet mouse...(..that comes and visits us only during nights (I stayed up until 12 ... to prove that to my roomie))...had nibbled on most of our noodles and was trying to get on top of the stove as well....Thankfully we are getting out of this place in a couple of days :)

Neeraja said...

Your mouse is far more daring and agile to get on top of stoves! I have been sleeping peacefully under the assumption that mice can't climb steep surfaces :). But lucky that you're moving!!