Friday, December 28, 2012

there's a mouse in the basement!

well, the dc curse is upon our house. we have mice. georgetown is notorious for rats, and apparently glover park has mice.

we have a roommate in our basement, with a separate kitchen and laundry. we got an email several weeks ago that she had heard some "squeaking." no droppings, no chewed through food, no sighting. traps were set, but nothing. then she saw droppings and heard something behind the refrigerator. yikes!

we called the exterminator. per usual with house services, i searched on angie's list for a company that is highly rated and has coupons. i also prefer to go with a local company - you can usually bargain and build relationships with the staff (less turnover than a large chain like orkin). what a nice man! he explained the habits of the mice, which (naturally) i found fascinating and helpful. apparently, they can fit through a hole the size of a dime. *shudder* they run around when people aren't out and about - so night or while we're at work - and they run a similar route repeatedly. so he looked for droppings and "mapped" the route. there was a distinct circular route from the bathroom through a hole in the wall around the perimeter of the room (the basement is set up like a little studio apartment). he set up mostly snap traps (warning: people posted dead mouse photos in the user photos section of the amazon listing - ewww) all along the route. snap traps are more humane because they instantly kill the mouse, rather than letting them squirm and suffer in a glue trap. then he tried to plug any holes he found that were suspect.

he explained some important concepts for preventing and dealing with mice:
- they can't see very well, but their sense of smell is strong. use gloves when placing or moving traps so they can't smell your "human" smell. they will avoid the trap area if they smell you.
- don't change everything around along their normal track. for instance, if people see droppings in the cabinet under their sink, their first instinct is to clean everything out of the cabinet and leave a trap. the mouse will notice the drastic difference in the space and avoid the area (and your trap). try to place a trap in their route without disturbing it.
- use steel wool to block small holes. mice can eat through drywall, but not steel wool. he stuffed into gaps around pipes all over the basement bathroom.
- keep things clean and food in tightly sealed containers (like glass). luckily, he said our space was not to blame. it's normal for mice to seek warmth in the winter and having a vacant house next door is not helping; the direction they are all coming is the wall we share with the vacant house. problems will persist until that house also takes care of any issues (emails to the owner go unanswered).

unfortunately, we've found three dead mice in two weeks. i don't know if this is a lot or a little. the exterminator said we are not an "infestation" situation. we just don't want them to have babies! maybe it's just the joys of living in an old house with a basement in a city. and near a large field. my aunt works at a school built in a field in colorado and they have lots of field mice. she said the teachers use bounce fabric softener sheets in their drawers and cabinets because the mice hate it. so when i get home from holiday travel, you better believe i'm running to safeway to give it a try!

so thankful for a helpful exterminator that took the time to explain what he was doing and why so we can tackle this on our own. also thankful that he said the mice don't appear to be in the garage or on other floors. and the concrete, tile, and brick meet up without holes where the floors meet the walls so mice can't get in that way! it's the little victories... : )

update: phil came home from christmas vacation to find a dead mouse in our den. ugh. very upset right now.

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