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They may be cute on greeting cards and in cartoons, but you don't want them in your home

by Clarissa French

As a new homeowner in my second year of residential bliss, I recently came face to face with a household crisis.

I had mice.

And apparently I wasn't the only one. Local discount stores had large and prominent displays of spring traps, glue traps and poison I even saw displays that were completely sold out.

Now, I've always been fond of furry animals. Some of my best friends don't have opposable thumbs, and I don't hold it against them.

And I've always thought mice were adorable you know, cute little doe-eyed mice on greeting cards; smart, plucky cartoon mice like Mickey, Minnie, Jerry and Speedy Gonzales.

Cute is not the word for the real thing, however.

Try filthy. Try disease-ridden. Try destructive. Try aggressive.

I cornered a mouse in my pantry and was chasing it around with a broom. As a last resort, it leapt right at me.

There must be some deep, dark genetic reflex in the female psyche related to rodents, because, just like a cartoon stereotype, I screamed. If there'd been a chair handy, I'd have been on top of it.

The mouse had thrown down the gauntlet. I didn't start this war, but I was going to finish it.

At first, I went the humane route. I bought some Mice Cubes. The Mice Cube is a clear plastic trap with a swinging door that lets the mouse in but won't let it out again. The idea is to catch and release in the tradition of "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom."

The mice ignored these traps completely.

So, I stepped up to the old-fashioned, spring-loaded mousetrap. Which is when I realized I was not dealing with ordinary field mice. I live in an urban area of Springfield that is more than 100 years old. These mice were the successful offspring of generations of savvy urban street mice. Gangsta mice. They took the bait cheese without springing the trap. Once they even took part of the trap.

I finally found the right bait gristle that could be wrapped tightly around the trigger and couldn't be removed without springing the trap.

Within an hour, I heard a snap. I ran and opened the kitchen cupboard under the sink. Sure enough, I'd caught a mouse.

It was cute and furry and had big doe-eyes. And it was still kicking.

Augh!

After calling a friend for moral support and minor grief counseling, I disposed of the mouse and the trap.

But even though I'd found a trap and bait that worked, it didn't last. The mice again figured out how to steal the bait without springing the trap. And when the trap was sprung, it was empty.

Finally, knowing I'd met my match, I resorted to poison.

Two weeks later, my mouse problem was resolved. Looking back, I can offer the following advice for homeowners:

1. Mice are filthy, disgusting, disease-ridden animals. Don't let your finer feelings delay an effective response to a rodent problem.

2. Mice will rush you if cornered. Be prepared.

3. Mice like cheese, but cheese is not good bait it's too easy to remove without springing the trap. The most you can hope for is that the cheese will clog the mouse's arteries and cause it to have a fatal heart attack.

4. Poison is the quickest and most effective method of control I have found, but spring-loaded traps or glue traps may be preferable for families with pets or young children.

5. If you have a severe rodent problem, consult a professional pest control company for assistance.

INSET CAPTION:

The most you can hope for is that the cheese will clog the mouse's arteries and cause it to have a fatal heart attack.[[In-content Ad]]

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