“Come inside, Mr. Bird,” said the mouse. “I’ll show you what there is in a people house.”
What began as a work of fiction by the well-known Dr. Seuss took proverbial wings as a personal narrative last week in my own home. Spoiler alert: It does not end well for the mouse.
The tale — or tail, as it were — began at approximately 3:40 a.m., as most good stories do. I awoke to a definitive scream, followed by a pounding on my bedroom door and then a bounding entrance into my room and a hard landing on my bed.
“There’s a mouse in my room!” reported my 18-year-old daughter.
She then proceeded to describe how cute it is, but followed by announcing that, although she does not want it dead, she wants it out of her room. I let her know that I had all the confidence in the world that she would figure something out and proceeded to shoo her out of my room.
While pets can be great to have around the home, pests are not. Not in any form. From rats, mice and squirrels to spiders, bugs and termites, pests can cause some serious damage. Rodents can structurally damage a home by gnawing, defecating and rapidly procreating.
Mice and rats are not picky about what they eat. They will eat anything. Think of Templeton in the children’s classic, “Charlotte’s Web.” They are not worried about their weight. They eat paper, wood, books, furniture, insulation and wiring. In fact, they love to chew through wiring, which can lead to risk of fire. They case the home looking for nesting materials and food and leave urine and fecal droppings in their wake. Not only are they disease prone, these trails leave a scent as an invitation for their friends to join them.
When a buyer is purchasing a home using a VA-type loan, a pest inspection is a requirement. It used to be required on FHA loans as well, but that is no longer the case. As a result, most people don’t have a pest inspection before purchasing a home. While a home inspector may spot damage caused by pests, specific pest inspections are not what they generally do. It is, however, always an option to get a pest inspection during the due diligence period of the purchase. It’s not a huge cost for the inspection, and it could save thousands in the long run.
Throughout my years in this profession, there has been more than one occasion where termites, rats, mice and even raccoons have been found and mitigated. It was the mitigation process that my daughter had a problem with. She wanted it gone, but not dead. However, my other daughter, who also rooms in the basement, wanted it dead. As a result, as fast as one set the traps the other would sabotage the efforts. I knew I was going to have to intervene.
During the last few months, we have basically uprooted the back of our property and redone the landscaping. During this uprooting, we did spot a fair number of rodents of all forms, so it really wasn’t a surprise that we had one in our home. I tried to reason with the younger daughter: “We don’t want the mouse to die, but when it comes into our home uninvited, I will kill it.”
We compromised. She made her own trap that would catch the mouse in a bucket, the bucket would fall, and the mouse would be trapped, and we could free it into the mountains. But if the mouse went into the other side of the basement, my other daughter could maintain her traps that would kill it. Less than 24 hours later, we performed a mouse funeral over the garbage can.
Secretly, without the overly humane daughter’s knowledge, we set traps around the home as well. We did not want another “incident.” Once word gets out, however, I assume the traps will mysteriously disappear.
As a side note, the culprit has a plan. She is preparing to attend veterinary school. Meantime, I’m going to keep swatting mosquitoes, stepping on bugs, and furtively setting traps for the rodents.