Today I offloaded a big bag of trash from the garbage can in the basement. Which meant that the can sat empty while I was over at the studio working on the electrical wiring.

When I went to put another bin-liner in the can, it smelled funny. So I looked.

Arrgh! I’m too much of a softie to kill them, though I thought about it. What was I going to do, vaporise them with a rifle? Flush them down the toilet? Pour a capful of chloroform down there and let the gas settle? Skewer them with a katana? The chloroform would be the most merciful. But I can’t. They’re too cute, and I interpreted their great big eyes as imploring.

So, they got what Josey Wales calls “a Missouri boat-ride” – I drove them down to the church a couple miles away and let them go near the cornfield behind it.

Sigh there goes my evil nihilist cred. I’m going to have to exert myself guillotining cops when the revolution comes, to make up for it.

------ divider ------


This low-level conflict has been going on for decades. This miscreant was in the sink back in 2008, and I forced it to pause for a portrait before I deported it.


  1. jazzlet says

    Ummm actually your evil nihilist cred is intact, along with a helping of cruelty. Mice and rats know the territory they live in, if they are moved somewhere else they will have to find the sources of food and shelter before something finds them. And that is assuming the local population doesn’s see them off (in which place the problems just start all over again) or do sufficient damage to them to kill them as soon as they encounter them. I know it”s difficult when you have caught them and they are looking cute, but honestly killing them right off is kinder than relocating them.

    I deal with our regular autumnal influx in two main ways, they get scared out of the main rooms by the dog GSD – yeah, for supposedly specialist guarding breed he is a great ratter (sorry Caine) – and I put down poison where the dogs can’t get it. We have brick cavity walls, before we blocked all of the holes we could find into the cavity I was sitting where I am now one night and I could hear the rats scratching around behind the bit of wall where the radiator is, no doubt a very cosy place to set up home. But I buy most of my dry food in bulk and I’m not prepared to have it ruined by rodents pissing all over it so poison it is.

  2. says

    Most rodent poisons are cruel beyond measure, worse than relocating. Relocating gives them a chance, especially if you release them near a building of some sort. Field mice are often parts of large migration waves, such things aren’t unknown to them at all, at least not here in the more rural areas of Ustates. Yes, a fair number might get snaffled, but other critters have to eat to, y’know. And that way, Marcus’s hard black heart doesn’t have to take the impact. I appreciate those to take the time relocate rather than kill.

  3. jazzlet says

    Where I live some of the rats and mice that have lived outside all summer look for a cosier gaffe come autumn, it is an annual event that lasts a few weeks. As I said we have taken a lot of trouble to minimie access, but I’m sure you know all about how mice and rats can dislocate their jaws enabling them to get through very small holes so we can’t stop them coming in entirely and those ones will get poisoned. We don’t poison the ones that live outdoors and there are plenty of those. Where I can I use a sonic deterrant which works pretty well, but it only works by line-of-sight and sometimes that isn’t enough, like the time it had the floor covered and the mice came in through the roof of the room onto the shelves.

  4. kestrel says

    Well, I have to agree with jazzlet about relocating. It can really wreak havoc on the poor relocatee and offer a lingering death instead of a swift one.

    Where I live Hanta virus is prevalent in the rodent population so I have to have a very good rodent eradication program in place. I have a lot of traps set up in the house. (If they are outside, I have no quarrel with them whatsoever.) There are lots of cases here of Hanta virus from people, for example, cleaning up without wearing a mask, so I also wear a mask when I clean and even wear gloves if I’m cleaning in the barn. There is no sense in taking chances if you don’t have to.

    I actually really love rodents and in particular the deer mouse which is an amazingly cute animal, but on the other hand, I am not willing to tolerate them in my house and run the risk of contracting Hanta virus. Not just for myself; it would be even worse if I killed, say, my mother or some other family member. That I could not live with.

    Sorry, mice.

  5. says

    There are handily organic methods of dealing with mice: keep rats. Or a ferret or three. Or a few snakes. We did have some little field mice in the house at one time. They didn’t last long, and the ones which survived decamped and went somewhere rat free. Rats don’t care for mice, and have a rather awful way of showing it.

  6. says

    Iris Vander Plurm@#4:
    A portion of the local hunter culture up here consider eating squirrels to be part of their redneck legacy. I think the local bobcats and coyotes keep the population down. I’ve seen a few here and there but generally the population is negligible.

  7. says

    Basement snake has been slacking, apparently. I have been expecting it to keep the minor critter population down but it hasn’t been working. Maybe I need to upgrade to basement capitalists?

  8. kestrel says

    Poor Basement Snake! The mice can easily out-breed its appetite… most snakes only eat about once a week. :-) Perhaps you could keep a small cadre of rats down there, as Caine suggests?

    We actually do have a cat, but the cat can’t get inside the walls or behind the cupboards, being way too big, so she can’t get at the mice where they live and breed, and they are generally smart enough to stay back there. She gets all the stupid ones though.

  9. says

    Perhaps you could keep a small cadre of rats down there, as Caine suggests?

    Rats would be better than capitalists, I’m sure, but I’m afraid they’re probably smarter than the mice and might be more of a problem.

    I didn’t used to have this sort of issue at all, when the dogs were still here. For one thing, they’d have cheerfully disposed of the mice (though the mice would not have liked it at all) I used to have 3 cats over at the other house, and consequently no mice.

    In the past I’ve used spring traps, but I stopped doing that after one sheared the top of a mouse’s skull off without killing it immediately. And I hate the poisons.

    I wish they would negotiate! I’d be happy to give them a whole mouse-zone and food if they’d just leave my stuff alone.

  10. says

    Relocating gives them a chance, especially if you release them near a building of some sort.

    Well, I did relocate them to near the church. So… they’re in the loving paws of jesus.

    Unfortunately, the most painless option for them would be if I set up a nitrogen kill jar. I have welding gasses… But that seems incredibly deliberate and gruesome. I suppose the crows would be happy. There’s always someone happy over someone else’s misfortune, isn’t there?

  11. chigau (違う) says

    The 2008 photo is really lovely. All those reflections.
    I particularly like the wee turd directly to photo-right of the protagonist.
    It has a halo.

  12. jrkrideau says

    Between oncoming winter and the landlord doing some reno’s on the other half of this roughly 150 year old house I suddenly got an invasion of rats. Traps and poisons helped but were not totally successful. There is at least one rat hole we have not found.

    So I’ve been saying, “I need a cat”. About four days ago my neighbour was leaving and as he opened the door I heard him say, ” Hello, come on in. That’s right, over there”. Eh?

    I have been adopted by a very nice, and big, black and white cat. My first thought, to neighbour, was, “Uh, Steve we can’t just steal a cat”. Steve assured me that he had been seeing the cat for a week or possibly two and was sure it was homeless.

    Further inquires in the neighbourhood have reassured me that the poor cat probably was abandoned or orphaned at least two weeks ago so I now have a big, but very skinny, cat who is eating like mad. He definitely has been on his own for a couple of weeks or more.

    And he seemed to be sniffing out a possible rat yesterday. Yeah!

    I have lost a shelf in the bookcase beside my deck. I was to restore some order to the bookcase and he simply appropriated the shelf.

    He’s sleeping there as I type but there was no sound or evidence of a rat last night so I guess he gets a bonus on top of his kibble.

    Oh, and yes, I remembered to remove the rat traps as soon as he moved in.

  13. John Morales says

    Cats are over-rated as mousers, in my experience.
    Perhaps it works if one does not feed them their yummy food, but I hope I will never know that.

    Our cat has so far brought two (2!) mice into the house and then released them. They actually seemed unharmed, which is weird but undeniable.
    Apparently, she likes to get her own toys.

    (Both mice have been successfully evicted, though one took a couple of days to pin down; I recommend towels)

  14. John Morales says

    jrkrideau, our previous cat (Fuat — Found Up A Tree] was a starving, flea-ridden kitty at first. She ate dogfood and dog kibble eagerly. And then… well, she got fussy once she’d recovered.

    (Expect a similar thing to happen. Also, as per RAH, “Never try to out-stubborn a cat.”)

  15. chigau (違う) says

    When our cat still existed, the most sucessful method of mouse-eviction was to:
    let the cat catch the mouse,
    pick up the cat-mouse unit,
    put it out the back door.
    This almost always resulted in the mouse escaping and
    the cat yelling to be let back into the house.

  16. says

    We kept cats and still voles ruined my bonsai trees one year and forest mice got into the house another year. And when I was a kid rats shredded a whole brood of turkey chicks (and yes I know for sure it was rats and not a fox or a weasel). Now we are a few years mice-free because our house is comparatively mouse-tight in winter and they feel no need to get inside in summer.
    As for voles, they are my sworn enemy. Relocating makes no sense whatsoever, I would have to clean a few square km. So I am resigned to living with them and hitting them with a showel whenever I get the opportunity. And setting spring traps in the wintering area for bonsai trees. I feel no joy from it, but no regret either.
    They are cute – right until the point when they destroy ten years worth of work or shit in your food.
    There is a difference between a pest and a pet and it is not just one letter.

  17. says

    That is brilliant!
    My ex-cats were not very good mousers, either. I think well-fed cats tend to play with their mice, so they aren’t as fast or as lethal.

  18. brucegee1962 says

    We had some rats get into our house. My wife is very much an animal rights person, so we tried a wide variety of live traps, but none of them worked, and the animals were multiplying and eating wiring, etc. Eventually I persuaded her to let me put down poison.
    While it took out 100% of the rats, the smell of their decaying bodies in the walls was awful, and we had to do some major renovations to get rid of it. If the problem happened again I might consider snap traps.

  19. says

    They are cute – right until the point when they destroy ten years worth of work or shit in your food.

    Speaking of: I think the mice are reading my blog. I went down to make my morning covfefe and the mice had eaten part of a sponge in the kitchen sink, pooped all over it, and otherwise appear to have lounged about having a good old time. They are taunting me!

  20. says

    I have used snap traps (before I hired Basement Snake) and the results are pretty horrible. Most of the time they work OK, except occasionally they chop some piece of mouse off, or you have a 3/4 dead mouse stuck dragging a trap around the floor. I stopped using them after the time a snap trap chopped the top of a mouse’s skull off without killing it, and then I was out in the yard executing the mouse with a 9mm in driving snow.

    I want to negotiate with them! I have this great big barn they can have and if they relocate to there, I’ll put down food. No need to come into my house! (I suspect they don’t go to the barn because there is a raccoon that lives there)

    If someone could do decent talking blues, there’s probably a good opportunity for an Alice’s Restaurant-style song about the guy whose mouse problem made him get a basement snake, and then when basement snake turned out to be better at making baby snakes than eating mice, he let a raccoon move in… I suppose the story would end with him having a retired police officer living down in the basement, or something really horrible like that.

  21. jrkrideau says

    @ 14 chigau
    You are very lucky.
    Indeed (smile)
    Take your new friend to a veterinarian.
    As soon as I have his new city ID (aka licence) hopefully tomorrow. If nothing else I live in Eastern Ontario, once famous as the rabies capital of the world. I’d like to keep both of us alive and healthy.

    Me paranoid? Yes!

  22. jrkrideau says

    @ 16 John Morales
    I am hurt and distressed that you would think that I would offer such a noble animal “dog” kibble. Only the best feline kibble for his majesty, err, I mean the cat. And cans of Friskies in moderation.

    He is already turning up his nose at the kitty treats. Time to try the other flavour.

    I have heard a dog described as a garburator on four legs. Cats both are fussier eaters (though a barn cat in an apartment is interesting), and have more stringent dietary requirements. From my reading, I don’t think a cat could survive in the long term on dog food.

  23. says

    I have heard a dog described as a garburator on four legs.

    … that farts love.

    I was a cat person for most of my life (I seem to be attracted to women who have cats) and only discovered that dogs are utter rockness in a completely different way – the way that I like – late in life.

  24. John Morales says

    jrkrideau, hey, it was after hours and it’s all we had!

    But yes, cats are obligate carnivores.

    In passing, we don’t feed our dog canned food. And, unlike many people, we spread out his food over the day with two main meals and treats in between. Same total amount of food, and not enough to fatten him up, of course.

    (Not into animal cruelty)

  25. jrkrideau says

    @ 26 John Morales
    hey, it was after hours and it’s all we had!
    Ah yes. I did not have that. All I had was some kitty treats bought for the neigbour’s kitten who used to visit occasionally. I could not even find a can of tuna.

    At the moment, I’m feeding HM dry food ad lib and about 2/3 of a can of moist food per day til he gets some weight back. He is seriously thin. I’ll have to do some checking with the vet about a longer term diet.

    It was much easier in my youth when the cat got its own barn and was expected to be more-or-less self-supporting. Well, with some milk and a few table scraps, tossed in.

    I suspect that I was in university before it really struck me that there was something called “Cat Food”.

  26. John Morales says

    jrkrideau, :)

    I suspect you will make an almost tolerable servant to HM.

    (No higher praise may be given; also, good on ya)

  27. oldmanbynow says

    My first war with mice happened in college, where I kept a box of cereal next to the fridge. One day I saw the box rocking back and forth. To think I had been eating those Cocoa Krispies for…how long?

    But the killing of them, at least for people like me who don’t enjoy killing things, is a trial. Well, really, it’s an execution. We get seven to ten a week in the traps now: our housekeeper calls it the Killing Fields. In an old New England house, there’s no keeping them out.

    I reviewed the various poisons. It used to be warfarin, but now, thanks to the clever Educated Rodents, it’s almost always a neurotoxin in those bins of death. Personally, when I go, I want it to be one of the instantaneous causes of death–arrhythmia, pulmonary embolus, anaphylaxis, or hypovolemic shock (bleeding out): of those, the only one we can give the mice is shock. So if I put down poison now, I go to extra trouble and expense online to make sure it’s warfarin. Moreover, there’s no specific antidote to the neurotoxins, as there is for warfarin; so if you have pets, another good reason to get the warfarin.

    And even then, they die in the walls. Manky.

    Most traps will misfire a certain percentage of the time. Last year, I finally found a trap that always gives a clean kill. It’s an enclosed black box, so the mouse goes in straight and gets a clean snap. So far, every kill is clean. Touchy and hard to set, but they work perfectly when they work. And they are enclosed, so the can be re-used with no-touch disposal of the mouse corpse, although I do use gloves nowadays.