Weeklyish Challengey Thingie: Demouse the House

November 4, 2012

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, since returning to the States in August, I’ve been living at home. With, like, my parents.

Which is totally awesome.

I’m sure you’re all rolling your eyes and thinking, “There’s no way that’s awesome.” But I assure you it is.


I mean, just to give you a hint as to what life is like hanging out at home with my parents, this is my mom:

Obviously, the crazy runs in the family.

Plus, I get to live a barn.

Yes, a barn.

And I don’t mean that in the figurative sense. Like, “Oh, my house is so big it could be a barn. Where did I put my car keys again? Hmmm, they must be in the second kitchen. How silly of me to think I’d left them in the first kitchen.”

No, I mean I literally live in a barn.

You see, my family lives on a farm, and a few years ago my parents decided to renovate one of the barns to make it into apartments for guests to stay in.

Or, you know, so their adult daughter could live there for an indefinite amount of time until she decides what she wants to do with her life. Again.


The outside is still kind of barn-ish. In a good way, of course.

I live in the second barn on the right.

While the inside of my new digs is quite cozy and apartmenty-looking.

See? Not so barny, right? No haybales here!

All in all, it’s a pretty awesome set-up.

Well, for me, at least.

I’m close enough to my parent’s house that I can walk there in my bathrobe and flip-flops if need be. Yet far enough away that I have a little privacy. Not that I really need privacy as I have yet to get a social life. But still.

Plus, I got a pretty good deal on the rent. Because, you know, I kind of have an in with the landlords.

Despite all the perks, living in a barn does have its drawbacks, though.

Like the fact that my nearest neighbor is a peacock. And, in case you don’t know, peacocks are loud. Like, really, really, freaking loud. Like, imagine a car alarm and a tea kettle had babies. And those babies were peacocks.

My neighbor. Don’t let all the pretty feathers fool you. He’s kind of a jerk.

Plus, it’s pretty much impossible for me to walk from my apartment to my car without accumulating some amount of manure on my shoes.

And, let’s just say, I don’t think the animal kingdom got the memo that this is no longer a barn and that they are no longer welcome here.

I get a lot of flies. And other random insects that decide to pay me a visit.

Desktop ladybug.

And, well, lately, I’ve been having a little mouse problem.

To be honest, I’ve had a mouse problem for a while. I just chose to ignore it. I’d find little mouse turds around, but then I’d pretend they were just poppy seeds. Even if they were suspiciously turd-shaped. And in my closet. Where, you know, poppy seeds aren’t generally known to hang out.

And, then, as the kids say, shit got real.

You see, the other week, I was eating from a bag of trail mix, when I noticed a little hole in the bottom of the bag. A hole roughly the same size as a little mouse-mouth.

I think I should mention here that I like to buy the high quality kind of trail mix. You know, the kind with the chocolate in it.

Staring at the hole in the bottom of the trail mix bag, I knew something had to be done.

That night, I set out two traps.

And before you all lecture me on how I’m a horrible person and how I should learn to live peacefully with the mouse instead of killing him and accuse me of being some kind of rodent-ist, let me just share with you this picture:

Yes, that is a picture of a my much younger self holding my pet guinea pig. Who just so happens to be dressed as a flamenco dancer.


Didn’t you spend your childhood dressing your pet guinea pig in a custom-made flamenco dancer costume?

Uh, no?

That must have just been me.

So, yeah, I don’t hate all rodents. In fact, I have something of a soft spot in my heart for certain rodents – especially ones that look adorable in ruffles.

I just hate this rodent. Because, seriously, you guys, HE ATE MY CHOCOLATE.

It would be one thing if the mouse had gnawed a hole in the box of Kashi Go Lean that I bought three months ago back when I was convinced that I was totally going to start eating healthy. The same box that I never bothered to open because there’s no chocolate inside.

But, this mouse had to go and help himself to my super high quality chocolate trail mix.




So I gobbed up the traps with peanut butter and went to bed hoping the mouse’s death would be swift and not too painful. Because I may have been feeling vengeful, but it’s not like I’m Liam Neeson or something.

In the morning, I tiptoed out into my kitchen to survey the mouse massacre.

The only thing that had been massacred was the peanut butter.

Both of the traps had been licked clean.

Which I didn’t even think was possible. The reason why I used peanut butter was because, unlike cheese or solid food, mice aren’t supposed to be able to get the peanut butter off the trap without the trap going off.

I was obviously not dealing with your typical mouse.

Oh no, this was a whole different kind of mouse — some kind of mother-freaking, peanut-butter-licking ninja mouse.

Obviously the mouse and I have a lot in common. We both like chocolate trail mix. And we’re both ninjas.

The next night, I loaded up the trap with even more peanut butter, hoping that maybe the mouse would be overly cocky after his conquest of the traps the night before. Maybe this cockiness would make him careless.

But when I woke up, the peanut butter was untouched.

I briefly hoped that this might be a sign that he had moved on.

And then I heard a busy little gnawing sound in the corner of my bedroom behind my bookshelf. He was sending me a message.

The message: “I know where you sleep.”

And: “I’m hungry. Give me something else because peanut butter isn’t cutting it.”

That’s when I knew I had to start getting a bit more creative.

I trolled some online forums for tips on what kind of bait to use on the traps.  I tried everything from chewy dog treats to liverwurst. I even thought about using mini Snickers bars. Until I ate them all.

I set up a bucket with water and birdseed – a tactic my sister had suggested. Apparently, the mouse will jump in the bucket to get the birdseed and end up drowning. To make it easier for the mouse to jump in the bucket, I even set up a chair nearby like a high-diving platform. I briefly toyed  with the idea of adding a Baywatch-like lifeguard platform to give the mouse a false sense of safety, but figured that might be taking things too far.

Come on in, mousey. The water’s fine.

Nothing worked.

Not only was the mouse not getting caught, he was getting bolder.

One night I woke up to the sound of him dumpster diving in my kitchen trashcan.

Another night I heard him skittering across my bedroom floor.

Then late last Saturday night, I was in my living room grading some papers and catching up on some reality TV, when I looked up and saw him nonchalantly staring at me from across the living room floor. Like, “Oh, I see you’re up. This is inconvenient. But, whatever. Since you’re up, why not fix me a little something and leave it on that silly little trap of yours?”




I’m sorry. You can’t just go around eating my chocolate and interrupting episodes of The Glam Fairy and expect me to be okay with that.

It was time to call in the big guns.

Or, err, big cat.

Her name is Dot, and she’s one of my parent’s barn cats. And, despite having lived most of her life in the barn, she’s adjusting quite well to life in my apartment.

Maybe a bit too well.

In fact, I rarely ever see her move from the couch. Occasionally, she’ll get up to accost my ankles in an attempt to get me to pet her or feed her. But then she’s back on the couch.

Not gonna move. You can’t make me.

Every time I open the door, she backs away really slowly with this look on her face like, “Oh no. I’m not going out there again.”

And she has yet to catch the mouse.

But, on the bright side, since she’s moved in with me, I have yet to see or hear any signs of the mouse. Maybe he’s finally caught on to the fact that he’s not wanted here.

Or he’s laying in wait, planning an assault on my apartment some late Saturday night when I’m up watching RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Just in case, I’m going to keep the cat around.

Besides, I think she’d look really cute in a flamenco costume, don’t you?

This face was totally made for ruffles.

 Had any close encounters with the vermin-kind? How did you get rid of them?



I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On November 4, 2012 at 8:12 pm MaryAnne said:

    We used to get little lizards in my last flat in Istanbul, but Lola Kedi (my otherwise shiftless cat) would leave a trail or deconstructed lizard parts around the flat- tail here, legs there, etc. Disconcerting to stept on when going to the loo at 3am.

    Also, when I was a kid living in the wilds of Canada, my semi wild cat (a lady cat named Rumbo, as in Stallone + purring sounds) once came in through my ajar bedroom window and presented me (on my bed, at 3am) with a perfectly flayed bunny, guts opened and displayed neatly for my horrified yet honoured eyes.
    MaryAnne recently posted..The Grass is Always Less Hazardous on the Other Side: I’m Cheating on China in my Head Again

  2. On November 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm Priya said:

    Haha! I love me some Weeklyish Challengey Thingies! When it comes to mice or bugs or anything like that… I kind of act like a girl. I’ll run, scream, jump on the couch, tip-toe around the house with a bat in my hands. Not to mention, a mouse made me cry once.
    Anyway, great post! As always 🙂
    Oh, and I dig the crib.
    Priya recently posted..An Open Letter To The Student Loan Department/College Education System/To Whom It May Concern

  3. On November 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly said:

    My first apartment in Asia was a little two bedroom in Phnom Penh. The previous German woman who lived there had a mosquito net over her bed even though the room had a/c. When I asked why, she said, “to keep the roaches out”. Being it was my first time living in Asia, I thought she meant the tiny roaches I’d seen in the US. I scoffed. Like verbally. Until after I moved in and saw them one day. They were freakin’ HUGE. And then one started flying. I almost passed out. I never knew such monsters existed in real life. This can’t be verified, but I may have screamed like a schoolgirl. And I definitely got my tennis racquet out. Game. ON.
    James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly recently posted..Photo of the Week – The Secret to Happiness Is…

  4. On November 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm Janet said:

    love it! i love alternative spaces too. your mom looks so whacky.. lol

    i think the whole living with your parents thing is sort of allowed for us traveling folk. its like a rest stop until the next adventure!!
    Janet recently posted..The Most Interesting Person in the World

  5. On November 4, 2012 at 10:12 pm Susanna said:

    I had bats in my apartment in Delhi – terrifying. And a couple of monkeys broke in once. So far China has been vermin-free, thank god!
    Susanna recently posted..Life, China, happiness, mojitos

  6. On November 4, 2012 at 11:13 pm cosmoHallitan said:

    We had mice and even a few rats in one of my NYC apartments. My cat (who now lives with my parents at the beach) managed to take one out but we had to call an exterminator to handle the rest. There is nothing like opening a kitchen cabinet and seeing a huge freaking rat inside. I’m pretty sure my scream could be heard across the city. Oh, and the mouse my cat did manage to catch? She left it outside my bedroom door and I stepped on it. With my bare foot. Thanks for the present kitty!
    cosmoHallitan recently posted..The Breathtaking Beauty of Halong Bay

  7. On November 5, 2012 at 4:12 am Katherina said:

    I had cockroaches in my apartment in Madrid… and currently have a serious spider problem in London. I even had a mouse problem in Tenerife! This is rather weird having lived with 3 cats there. My cats mostly brought the mice to play with, but they didn’t believe in violence, so they always let them go… inside the house. Mice eventually disappeared as my cats got a bit older (or say, lazier!). Good luck with it!
    Katherina recently posted..Work Hard – Play Hard

  8. On November 5, 2012 at 7:38 am Sid said:

    Never really had a rodent issue. But I do have a cat. And she likes to bring me “presents”. She brought a dead bird into the house once. Yeah, I really appreciated that.
    Sid recently posted..George RR Martin, Dany Stormborn, books

  9. On November 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm Jocelyne Marchand said:

    I totally relate to this posting. I live in an old house and every fall the mice move in. I usually let them get comfortable and then I set traps and catch them one after another until they are all gone. Peanut Butter let me down. My man at the hardware store suggested gummy bears – IT WORKS. You have to really squeeze it into the space provided. I sometimes get more than one mice with the same bait. Yes,I reuse the traps. I put my hand inside a plastic bag and somehow dislodge the dead mouse in such a way that it stays in the bag and my hand does not touch it directly, no flesh to flesh.

    My old cat, athough a good mouser outdoors, never seemed to get them indoors – how could she? the mice are in the walls. Frisky passed away a few years ago, she was 17. Anyway now that I no pets( I am a travellor) I use POISON.
    It is called RIDEX Bloks – I put it under the kitchen and bathroom sinks and it disappears. You keep doing it until there is no more mice activity.

    Last winter I was away for three months and left quite a bit of these blocks around the house and there was some left when I got home.

    I also sprinkled dried peppermint leaves around places where I have seen little mouse turds.

    I have read that they do no like the smell of citrus, but have not been able to confirm this.

    So that’s my story – love reading your blog

    jocelyne in nova scotia, canada

    • On November 5, 2012 at 8:06 pm Sally said:

      Gummy bears? That’s a good idea. And I hate gummy candy (don’t look at me like that…) so I don’t have to worry about eating all of them before I can set the trap… like I, umm, accidentally did with the mini-Snickers.

  10. On November 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm Susan said:

    Oh man. When I lived in Massachusetts I had a total mouse problem. Like you, I tried to deal with it, until the MOUSE crossed the line. The MOUSE opened my party-sized bag of pretzels that I bought before I even had a chance to eat them myself. And I was in college, so those pretzels basically were supposed to provide all of my calories for, oh, the semester.

    I couldn’t use traps because I wouldn’t have been able to dispose of the carcasses, so I used those packs of D-Con. They apparently kill the mice through dehydration so that when they die, they won’t rot and smell. Instead they’ll just turn to dust like a vampire or something. It worked for me! Good luck!
    Susan recently posted..Mongolian Shorts

    • On November 5, 2012 at 8:05 pm Sally said:

      Eating your snacks before you’ve even opened them? NOT COOL. NOT COOL AT ALL, MOUSE.
      And I’ve never heard of D-Con… it sounds handy, but I’m a bit worried that it might not be a good idea with a cat around.

  11. On November 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm Kelly said:

    I love how a simple story about catching a mouse leaves me laughing, on the edge of my seat, wanting more.

    • On November 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm Sally said:

      Thanks, Kelly! This was a fun one to write… well, not so fun to experience. But, the whole time I was like “This is going to make an AWESOME blog post.”

  12. On November 5, 2012 at 7:42 pm Ashley of Ashley Abroad said:

    I have an absolutely massive fear of rodents so I think I would be squealing in terror in your situation! I did have rats in the basement of my old apartment and they put out some gigantic rat traps and those weird black boxes with rat-sized holes in them. Mice are much cuter and less scary than rats though so that’s good at least 🙂
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..A Journey to the West – Dingle, Ireland

    • On November 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm Sally said:

      “Weird black boxes with rat-sized holes”?!? I have no idea what that even is… and I’m tempted to Google search it… but maybe not. Sounds frightening.

  13. On November 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm Vanessa said:

    We had a mouse problem in our house once.. or several times. Our ones had a hankering for potato chips and believe it or not, mooncake! So on a few different occasions we’d leave the chips or mooncake out with some crushed sleeping tablets over it. In the morning, my mum would find some drugged mice trying to crawl out of the potato chip bag unsuccessfully and we’d just let them outside. It was hilarious for a while until they actually caught on and ate AROUND the sprinkled tablets. Damn those mice are smart!

    • On November 5, 2012 at 9:10 pm Sally said:

      This comment absolutely amazes me. For one, the mice liked MOONCAKE? If only I’d known… I could have saved all that mooncake everyone kept on giving me in China! And for another, the mice actually caught on that you were drugging them?!? Seriously, mice are not to be messed with.

  14. On November 6, 2012 at 3:38 am gigi said:

    When I had a housemouse, I set out peanut butter flavored poison, huge chunks of which went missing after about a week. I didn’t see a trace of the mouse for about 3 weeks and was happily (self)convinced that it had died in a wall somewhere. Then, in the middle of the afternoon, I found it walking in a slow, disorientated circle in the kitchen. “Oh!” it said to me, waving a tiny paw. “I feel like shit. I feel like I could die!” That’s when I started screaming nonstop and the tiny mouse covered its tiny ears with its tiny paws. Eventually, a neighbor came and threw the mouse in the alley, where it continued to walk in disorientated circles, probably for perpetuity, or until the possum that lived in the alley ate it.

    PS – Discovered your blog when I was trying to convince my scaredy cat self to move to Korea. Love your adventures – even the domestic kind =)

  15. On November 6, 2012 at 5:58 am Marta said:

    So… you say that this cat’s natural environment is a couch… It’s said, that pets are adjusting to their owners’ personalities, but wow, that was quick! : )

    • On November 6, 2012 at 7:35 pm Sally said:

      I know! She’s also a super sloppy eater just like me. I expect to come home and find her in a bathrobe eating ice cream directly from the tub one of these days.

  16. On November 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm Don said:


    This post totally craked me up. I’m reading on my iPad and laughing so hard the direction of the text kept flipping back and forth. In terms of pests, in Tripoli when the weather got hot and dry the bugs would search for water. Giant cockroaches would find their way into my poolhouse in the middle of the night. They always seemed to get tangled up in a plastic bag by the door and drag it around the room and wake me up. My weapon of choice was a flip-flop. The glamor of an international lifestyle.

    • On November 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm Don said:

      Oh and for the flies and other bugs. Check out the “Zap Racket”. I’d recommend the one with the built in charger. It makes an awesome Chritmas gift. Ask Santa.

      • On November 6, 2012 at 7:33 pm Sally said:

        Those were popular in SE Asia, but I’ve never seen them in the States. Guess I’m going to have to keep an eye out. Could provide HOURS of entertainment!

    • On November 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm Sally said:

      You know, I was feeling really sorry for you until I got to the words “my poolhouse.” Somehow the sympathy just dried up… was your poolhouse next to your second kitchen?

  17. On November 8, 2012 at 10:07 am Jerry Woods said:

    Go ahead and get Dot the flamenco costume.

    Also get one for the mouse.

    Pipe in a Bulerias by the Spanish flamenco guitarist, Paco de Lucia – or by Tomatito (yes, it’s a real name).

    Record with secret video camera and watch the magic happen.

    After the video goes viral, you will soon be inundated with guest artist requests for the duo.

    Dot will politely refuse, of course opting for the couch, but you can send the mouse on a looong world wind tour.

    Heck, your mom can even be the opening act in her chicken costume.

    • On November 8, 2012 at 6:47 pm Sally said:

      Hmm… this sounds like a plan. A VERY complicated plan that I have no intention of ever pulling off (do you know how hard it is to put an animal in a flamenco costume?). But a plan nonetheless.

  18. On November 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm Amy said:

    So funny! I had mice in my attic a couple years back. They’d wake me in the night with their little diseased nails clicking right over where I slept, which is very spooky, because at 2:30 in the morning, it sounded like the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. And I too, struggled with killing them, because I’m a big animal lover, but as I explained to their carcasses, “Look, I’m really sorry and I feel bad about it and all, but I CANNOT have you in my house.” I feel pretty sure if the situation were reversed, they’d do the same thing. I was going to lecture you about having an outdoor cat (they don’t live nearly as long as indoor cats, you know), but that cat looks pretty healthy. And the pic of her glued to your couch is priceless. Good luck and happy hunting! 🙂

    • On November 8, 2012 at 6:46 pm Sally said:

      “Little diseased nails.” That made me laugh so bad.
      And, yes, I’m pretty sure the cat’s going to live forever. She has found heaven & she’s not leaving!

  19. On November 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    OH HELL NO. I’m mimicking RuPaul there. I’m kind of obsessed with AllStars. WHAT THE HELL WAS WITH TEAM YARLEXIS STAYING AND LATRILA GOING HOME?!? NOT AMUSED.

    Dot is adorable, but can’t you do something like threaten to fire here if she doesn’t get that mouse soon? Or is she really that blase about the whole set-up? Maybe she’s in with the mouse – did you think of that? THEY’RE A TEAM.

  20. On November 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm Heather said:

    I survived two mouse encounters on my 2-month Aussie road trip. I was sleeping in the van, minding my own business, when I heard squeaks and rustling noises from the food area in the back. Most of our items were in storage containers but a few were out in the open. I was too terrified to move so I stayed there for a couple of hours before the sun started to rise and I ran outside to escape the noise. I guess once the sun was up the scurried out of the van.

    We set traps in case we had more attacks at night, but we were fine for several weeks…so we let our guard down and failed to set them one night as we camped in a national park. And of course, 2-3 mice found their way into the van again, only this time we didn’t have food outside of storage containers for them to nibble. That didn’t stop them from trying to get into the containers, peeing and pooing everywhere. And scurrying across the van just a foot from my terrified face. And running over the sleeping bag so I could feel them briefly dash over my (thankfully covered) feet.

    I applaud your determination to rid the barn of the mice. Defend your chocolate, Sally.

    Oh yes, and I’m sorry for writing a comment that’s nearly long enough to be a blog post.

    • On November 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm Sally said:

      Mice. What a bunch of mind-messer-uppers. It’s like they KNOW to run across the sleeping bag of the most terrified person there. Jerks.
      Oh, and you never have to apologize for ME for writing overly long comments. It’s not like I know how to edit myself. 🙂

  21. On December 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm Liz T said:

    FYI, your cat’s full name is Princess Dot. This might explain how well she took to her new life of leisure…..

  22. On February 10, 2013 at 11:51 am Ceri said:

    Yikes. I’ve never had any problems with mice but I have had problems with cockroaches … a shit load of cockroaches! I’m a vegetarian/vegan but I was totally willing to commit complete insect genocide in that apartment to get rid of them!


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