“I hate those meeces to pieces.”

Mr. Jinx the cartoon cat.

It’s the time of year I dread. I saw him run across the kitchen floor and under the bedroom door. My heart was pounding.

I walked into my bedroom a few moments later. I saw it in the corner just staring at me. Or was it taunting me? I froze for a second. Neither of us moved. I went to the kitchen and got a pair of those elbow-length plastic gloves. I also grabbed a metal frame with a cloth lining. It was one of those rolling laundry carts. I grabbed a broom. I was going in.

It was a face-off, man vs. beast. One of us would surely blink. It wasn’t him and it wasn’t going to be me. I had one chance. I approached my little invader with the stealth of a Ninja and the grace of an African bushman.

It was now or never. My heart was pounding and the pulse rapid. A sudden and surprising courage over took my being. Failure was not an option. Actually, failure was an option. Failure is always an option.

I closed in and trapped the beast against the wall with its only escape being to run into the cloth lined container. I prodded it with a broom.

As I made my way to the door it climbed up the cloth lining again and again. Holding the hamper with one hand and knocking it down with the broom in my other hand, I made it safely outside with no injury to either combatant.

I safely relocated and released my foe of nature into the wild.

Anyone who has been reading this column for a while is acutely aware that I have one particular phobia. I am terrified of mice. They send a shudder down my spine when I know they are there but cannot see them. There had been a previous sighting and in fact, I had placed a V-trap under the stove and caught a few. Caught is a kind way of stating I had killed a couple. In fact, the total count for the week ended up being 7 dead and one successful capture by hand.

I knew it was the season when I went to buy a couple more V-traps. The shelf was empty. The continuing war of man vs. mouse was fully underway with the cool weather. The very shelf that had been stocked last week with traps was now empty.

I decided to research all I could about mice after the season’s initial encounter. It’s actually very alarming when you know their abilities and breeding habits. Mice can breed year-round, they have no season. Both males and females can breed within 50 days of their birth. They usually find a home and build a nest within 30-50 feet of a food source.

When they find a “safe” home, i.e. my house, mice live in groups and are somewhat prolific breeders, giving birth to litters of six to eight babies up to 10 times per year. The potential of an infestation is high.

One of the old thoughts is that having no food available and being sanitary will eliminate mice; however, that will not necessarily be effective, but poor sanitation and ready food sources available will attract them.

The best way to prevent them from getting into your home to is to eliminate entry points. Mice are known to not like the smell of peppermint. While nobody understands why, fresh leaves scattered about the house tend to make mice vacate the premises. Spraying homes with peppermint mixed with water with a spray bottle can be effective.

I have always found and much of the research suggests the old-fashioned baited traps work effectively. The new V-traps are much safer on the hands and fingers than the old-fashioned ones that were for me almost impossible to set the first time. Yes, somebody did invent a better mousetrap.

One of the more interesting facts is that baking soda when ingested will be deadly for a mouse. Rodents do not have an ability to belch or expel gas inside their stomachs. One article suggest that instant mashed potatoes are an effective way to kill mice. If your olfactory nerves aren’t already singed and burnt out, used cat litter soiled with cat urine will scare them away since they instinctively know cats are a natural predator. Mice also are repulsed by the smell of onions. Mice are incapable of chewing through steel wool used to block an entry point.

Of course, cats are an effective way to control and eliminate mice. My late pair of house cats, though, were not very good at it. They would play with a mouse and then get bored and let them go. I would suggest a hungry cat is better than a well-fed and pampered kitty like we had. My two indoor kitties were the very perfect examples of why cats actually have a nap named after them.

If all else fails, simply put on your elbow-length latex gloves, grab a laundry basket and broom, and go on a search-and-destroy mission. I will admit that a face-to-face encounter and relocation mission is not for the feint of heart.

I guess the best way for people to know I have successfully completed the man vs. beast (.68 ounce mouse) hunt is my customary Tarzan yell signaling the end of a successful capture.

— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at lindon.dodd@hotmail.com.

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