Adventures in Ick

This morning I set my first ever mousetraps. I cannot begin to explain how totally wigged out I am by this.

I’m not a squeamish person. Thing is, with the exception of vomit, there’s nothing that really grosses me out. I find some things undesirable and would say they’re gross, like worms and insects,1 but it’s more that they weird me out than I’m disgusted by them. I’d prefer not to deal with those things, but if there was a spider in my vicinity, for instance, I wouldn’t run screaming from the room. In fact, a lot of things that people would define as disgusting just don’t faze me. My bar is pretty low considering I pick up dog feces several times a day with my hands, shielded only by the thin plastic of a bag.2

Until this morning I’d have probably said that mice were in a similar category. I’m not fond of them, but I don’t really mind the ones in pet stores or the idea of them in a lab setting. That was before I discovered a kitchen covered in mouse droppings, though. Logically, I knew it was an inevitable situation. We’ve had mice before, but for unknown reasons they’ve always avoided my kitchen and taken up residence in the basement and/or my mother’s part of the house. Anyway, there was a solid five minutes this morning that I seriously considered grabbing Uschi and completely abandoning the house. I was that disgusted by what I found.

The kitchen has since been scrubbed to within an inch of its life and I’m still completely grossed out even though I couldn’t find one shred of food that they must have consumed and based on all the poop they left they clearly chowed down pretty well. All I can think of is the unseen mouse gnawing on whatever yummy thing I might want to eventually put in my mouth and scurrying about inside my walls or ceilings, crapping anywhere he darn well pleases and spreading mysterious and scary diseases. Actually, the only sign they chewed on anything was a chunk missing from a potholder, which I promptly tossed in the trash.

Then, of course, I had to set the traps. Seems a simple enough task, right? Granted, until today I had never before physically touched or even laid eyes on a real mousetrap. But, really, how hard could it be? Sure, it’s just a flimsy piece of wood and steel that’s supposed to rid my house of these vile pests, but I hear all the time about how people injure themselves with them. The package certainly seemed to proclaim I was well on my way to once again having a mouse-free home, but the directions were rather lacking and I’m still not sure I wouldn’t have broken my thumb attempting to stumble my way through deciphering what the vague instructions meant. Instead I found a video on YouTube, which was far more descriptive except for the part about how setting the arm is about as simple as balancing a beach ball on your nose.

I managed the first trap with the same ease as the guy in the video, though, and aside from remaining unconvinced it’s going to do a damn thing I was quite proud of myself. That was obviously beginner’s luck since the rest took me the better part of half an hour and left me wondering if I somehow set the first one wrong because of how easily it went. The very last nearly cost me a few fingers when it suddenly sprung as I was setting it down. After which I spent another several minutes trying to reset it. And now I’m terrified to walk around in the kitchen lest my footsteps set any of the traps off and leave me struggling to once again set them.

At least as far as baiting, I’m totally on track according to all sources both reliable and questionable; thanks to Uschi’s extreme affection for it, I always have a healthy store of peanut butter around. Except so far the only interested party is Uschi herself, who I have now twice stopped from potentially endangering her nose.

Oh, and before I’m asked, I know the traps I set are not humane ones. I don’t care. Yes, I’m an animal lover, but I draw the line at pests, especially ones that crap all over my kitchen. Plus humane traps are only humane if you actually are around to release the caught animal, which I likely won’t be. Honestly, I’m not sure which I want to deal with least: a live mouse or a dead one. In any case the whole thing is just, well, icky.

  1. Things that look the same backwards and forwards or with more than four appendages just  . . . bother me. I don’t understand the purpose of all those extra legs and it freaks me out that some things don’t have a clearly defined head.
  2. During our first “parking” at GEB after receiving instruction on how we would clean up after our guide dogs, the trainer boasted that we would grow used to the idea and eventually we would be “cleaning up dog poop in one hand and eating a sandwich in the other.” I don’t expect that will ever happen, but truth is I don’t find fecal matter nearly as distressing as most people.


  1. I’m not too keen on a kitchen (or house) full of mouse droppings either. We usually tend to try and ensure all holes and entrances are totally blocked and blame it on next doors feeding cages birds with bird feed and spilling some.

    As for setting traps – try setting a rat trap – and finding a HUGE snarling rat in there and wondering what to do with him.

    • Um, no thanks. Honestly, I’m not so grossed out by the rats as scared. I think the dead rat I could probably handle, but the live one would definitely be beyond me.

      My father lives out in the country and fights a constant battle with mice and rats. I honestly am totally horrified any time I have to go in the basement there because (a.) there’s rat poison, which leads to (b.) dead rats.

  2. I know exactly what you mean. The mice themselves are not that gross, but when they get in the kitchen it’s hard to think there could possibly be enough Lysol in the *world* to make it okay again.

    I’ve used the Victor traps before and sometimes the little critters clean the bait out and evade capture. Or they get caught but don’t die, which leaves you with the unenviable task of executing the mouse by cervical dislocation. (You used to be able to buy traps that would kill them more painlessly and effectively, but IIRC they were outlawed because they were seen as being too cruel.)

    Anyway, I bring this up because we had much better success with the electric traps. They are little boxes with electrified contacts on the inside. They take regular batteries and kill quickly and painlessly. The other big selling point for me was that my dog’s nose and paws didn’t fit in the box, so I didn’t have to worry about him getting hurt. So, if the regular traps don’t work out, that’s an idea you might try.

    Thus ends my unsolicited advice. :P Good luck.

  3. Ugh! Been there; done that numerous times. Nearly every winter I spent at my previous residence I had to deal with at least one mouse that had somehow made its way into my warm house from the nearby park/fields. Like you, not many things get to me (and I even had a cute pet mouse when I was a kid), but having these uninvited guests running around, chewing/eating things and pooping all over my kitchen grossed me out!
    I highly recommend smearing a little peanut butter on your traps, if you have it – mice can’t seem to resist it, so you should catch them pretty quickly. And, since you’re not using live traps, you will definitely want to get rid of any caught mice ASAP (or if you’re going to be away for the holidays, turn your heat off while you’re gone). A dead mouse can start to smell horrible, incredibly quickly – I unfortunately learned this the hard way.
    Best of luck with the pest catching.

    • Yeah, I used peanut butter as the bait, which is why Uschi is fascinated by the traps. Much as the smell of dead mouse is not welcome, the possibility of pipes freezing and bursting is far worse so the heat won’t be turned off completely, but I always keep it lowered when I’m not home because it’s pointless to heat a house I’m not in.

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