But the big problem is local. A family of mice (big ones) has moved into my kitchen.
I wondered at the plumbing problems. First my dishwasher stopped pumping water. The thing goes through all the cycles but without water. It is quite useless. Then, five feet away in the utility room the clotheswasher suddenly dumped all the water it held onto the floor. With soap. OK. Both are at least seven years old. I didn't connect the problems.
But then the hoses in the kitchen sink faucets started leaking under the cabinets, and the plastic high pressure hoses had chunks missing from then. They had been chewed on.
I got mice.
Smart mice. Mouse traps that got the last ones four years ago merely lost their bait.
The West Highland White Terrier suddenly was sniffing and snorting at the kitchen cabinet. Fun to watch. Ever watched a real hunting dog at work? He's having a lot of fun, and is really focused on what he is doing, He'll snuffle and snort at the cabinets and the refrigerator (which fortunately has no plastic hoses) for hours. I opened one cabinet and he was inside in a flash, shoving aside all the plastic buckets and such and going to the rear of the cabinet. Suddenly a mouse ran out from the rear, leaped out ( and my 39 year-old kid claims performed a Matrix style flip in midair) before escaping behind the refrigerator. The kid claims it is a rat, but it is only about 3 inches long without tail.
I considered a snake. Can you hire a consultant snake? You know, a snake that shows up with a briefcase, gets his assignment, removes the mice, gets paid and leaves? Well, I haven't found one yet. Besides, my kid says if a snake moves in he moves out.
Guess I'm not ready for something that extreme - yet. I don't like snakes either. They remind me too much of lawyers.
OK. Time for traps. I have two dogs and a cat in the house, so poisons are out. The cat is not a mouser. (We gave the mouser away because he also sharpens his claws on our furniture. My daughter in tennessee claims he rules the territory around their home.) Our cat is a lap cat. Currently sleeping on top of my monitor, where she moved when I got back onto the computer. (Warm there, but she only stays there when I'm here. Periodically she will wake up, hop down onto my lap, and demand the stroking which she knows is her due. She's about a Five and a half pound grey tabby and she rules the house. No debate. But mice here get a free run. The terrier was working to flush a mouse in the utilility room, and she was watching him. But she is too old to learn to be a mouser. )
I need to get rid of mice. Review of Google points out that mice don't like cheese (who knew? I blame the dairy industry advertisements) but mice love peanut butter. I'll vouch for that. They cleaned out the peanut butter on three traps with no bodies left behind. (My tenderhearted kid keeps saying "can't we catch them and leave them near a church with instructions to convert to church mice?")
I'll also accept that if they'll stop chewing my plastic or rubber hoses. I can't get the plumbing repaired until the mice are taken care of. I HATE going to laundromats! That's a major reason I bought a house and a washer and drier! Investment be damned. I wanted someplace to keep a washer and drier and let the dogs run in the back yard.
So I tried traps to get the mice. They didn't work, so I got a mouse strip. Strong glue that smells good. Got one mouse, couldn't detach him without breaking his legs, so I killed him and put him in the trash. The other Mouse strip has been avoided even while the terrier informs us the mice are rampant.
Yes, by now the movie "Mouse Hunt" has been mentioned. Probably the second best comedy I have ever watched. Not quite as good as "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" but certainly on par with "the Pink Panther." But Mouse Hunt is not as a How to Do It movie. So I reverted to my military training.
When laying a mine field, you want the mines that blow in one area to scare the victims into other mines you have laid. The victim blows one mine, his compadres feel happy not to have been killed, but are surprised and step backwards - into another mine. Depends on the terrain.
So I placed two peanut butter baited mouse traps up against a peanut butter baited rat trap, with the rat trap against the wall and the mouse traps against the rat trap on the bait end.
It worked. One dead mouse in the rat trap. But both the rat trap and the mouse trap on the side of the dead mouse were without bait. Damned mouse ate well before being killed.
The terrier recognizes dead prey. Two quick sniffs and off to find something else. I suspect he was disappointed. But maybe not. Are Westies bred just to flush the prey, or to also kill them? He really loved it when he flushed the mouse in the cabinet, and didn't seem all that depressed when it got away. Nor did he act unhappy when the trap got one. Sniffed and moved on.
But so far that's two mice in a week. I wonder if this is an Arkansas family with many kids. Or maybe (observant) Catholic church mice where birth control is a sin. I'm still not ready to pay a plumber. I need them all gone.
My kid has bought a rat-sized live trap and baited it. No luck so far. It's in the utility room where the dogs and cat can't go if we keep the door closed. (The trap is big enough to catch the cat. But I don't think she likes peanut butter.) I've reset my traps in the cabinet under the kitchen faucets.
The war is on, my forward scout (the terrier) is roaming the kitchen, and I will win. This is NOT the movie the Mouse Hunt.
Oh, and the other dog? She's a sheltie mix. She has no idea what the terrier is doing. But she does try to herd me and the cat. I haven't seen her try to herd the terrier. Some animals just can't be herded.
Update Oct 14, 2006
Got another mouse in the rat trap. Aaah, the power of
Either they are very hungry or they are a family of deaf mice because this trap was right under one of those $8.99 Black and Decker mouse and insect repellers. Can't be that it doesn't work. It's Black and Decker for goodness sake!