These insurgent mice were thorough
April 1, 2019
“Gary,” I said to by husband, “I think a couple moved in while we were gone, and not only had babies, but invited the whole extended family.” It was early April many years ago and we had just returned to our home in Slana after an absence of a few months while being “snowbirds”. Other winters we had done the same and not had a problem, but this time was different. We found mouse sign everywhere -- in the cellar, the kitchen, the living room, bedroom and even upstairs.
Since I was so glad to be back in my own home and since I planned to “spring clean” anyway, the mess didn’t upset me too much. Perhaps I was even guilty of accidental mouse baiting. Our leftover garden carrots and potatoes went to my dad when we closed up the house, but I left a plastic grocery bag of purple kohlrabi in the cellar. I wanted to see how well they kept, whether or not they would freeze while we were gone.
As I climbed down the ladder stairs to the cellar, my nose was offended by the smell of mouse mess and strong kohlrabi. The little darlings had gone in and hollowed out each globe, leaving the tougher outer shell. Such a pile of mouse poop I had never seen. The whole mess was carted outside immediately, and eventually taken to the mound of snow that hid the compost pile.
That first night home, cleaning the kitchen counter top for cooking was a priority. We also shook out the bedding before we could sleep, but everything else had to wait. The next day Gary set traps both inside and out and over the next few days we caught five fat mice. While cleaning in the cellar, I heard scurrying the full length of the room in the space above the ceiling. Another time I heard a trap snap in the pantry only a few feet from where I was standing. Even as I emptied the trap, I told the critter I was sorry there wasn’t room for both mice and humans in this house. They are so cute.
We found sunflower seeds in the bedding and dog food in the couch and chair cushions. Neither of these items had been left in the house, so it was packed a far distance in mouse mileage. Leaving a tray of drying rose hips on the top of the refrigerator was another mistake. What the mice didn’t eat, they stashed in the narrow neck drink bottles we kept in a basket nearby.
But, what really made me laugh out loud was the mouse that died in the Parmesan cheese “hell”. When I brought up a crate of bottles and such from the cellar that belonged in the refrigerator, I noted a white powder scattered over everything. Picking up the green Parmesan cheese container, I immediately identified the powder. Last fall I had accidentally broken the twist-to-close part of the top when opening the container, at which time I placed a plastic bag over the top and secured it with a rubber band to keep odors out. Now underneath the plastic I could see mouse poop and decided that eating that cheese didn’t interest me anymore. After throwing it in the trash, something prompted me to retrieve it and check the contents. After cutting the top off, I peeked in. There at the bottom of the can was a giant mouse as well as a half cup of leavings and no cheese. Apparently he ate too much and got too fat to get back out the hole at the top. What a way to go!
It was not a laughing matter, however, the night I poured Worcestershire sauce in the meat mixture I was preparing for stuffed green peppers. Little black mouse pellets spilled out from the brown paper wrapper around the top of the bottle. I must have missed them during my earlier cleaning.
Having been known in the past for taking off my shoe and killing a mouse when it hesitated a little too long crossing my kitchen floor, and for setting and emptying numerous mouse traps, I admit I can be cold hearted. Now my mouse mess is cleaned up and the traps are still set. These cute critters have taken up altogether too much of my time lately. So all you mouse lovers, send out the invitation to your homes. Mice are not safe in mine.
This story took place years ago. I’m happy to report that for the past seven years, to my knowledge, no mouse has dared enter my current home here in Palmer.
Maraley McMichael is a lifelong Alaskan now residing in Palmer.