Back when the Husband and I first got married, we were on a desperate search to find our first apartment together in San Francisco. I didn’t have a job yet and the Husband was still finishing college and working part-time, so our collective income was somewhere between surviving on ramen noodles and exchanging wedding gifts for cash, which meant that finding a landlord to rent to us was near to impossible considering the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in 2005 was about $1,400-$1,500 a month (try $2,800-$3,300/month now).
But still, we had to live somewhere.
Which led us to the in-law apartment. An in-law, if you don’t know, is a dark, recessed basement-like hell named for a place where one can comfortably stick your parents-in-law when they come to visit. They are usually located on the ground floor or basement, which is always bad news in a city, and also usually illegal, making the owners almost as desperate as us.
(Our in-law was much dirtier than this one.) Despite the fact that the in-law had no windows in the kitchen or bathroom and the living room only had a window to an enclosed hallway, we thought we were getting a good deal. After all, it was only $1,000 a month and it included access to a washer and dryer (only on Fridays, I guess the landlords thought making two young newlyweds do their laundry on Friday nights would be funny?).
It wasn’t long though until we started to run into a lot of problems though. Including, but not limited to:
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Resistant to everything mold (we had to constantly run a dehumidifier and filled up two buckets of water a day, OUT OF THE AIR, and our sheets were still constantly damp)
This story is about the mice. (The bats really deserve a post all of their own. The mold was probably the most sinister of the group, but was also the most boring, unless you want to hear about my repeated trips to the doctor.)
I first discovered we had mice when I was home alone sick and feverish (see mold reference). I heard a noise in the kitchen and looked over to see a mouse curiously peeking through to look at me through a burner on the stove. Then I saw a mouse crawl out of the toaster.
Like any rational person, I screamed.
Actually, when I was young I had a pet mouse that I saved. My brother’s snake decided not to eat it and I decided to save it – it was a feeder baby mouse from the pet store and probably not intended to actually survive its infancy and after a few months it lost all its hair and died. I was devastated. Moving on.
I really had nothing against mice in general, they were fine when they kept their diseased selves outside, but I took it very personally that these mice were in my kitchen and crawling around in my once nice hand-me-down toaster, which of course I now had to throw away.
I was especially afraid of mice running over my feet when I was barefoot. This was not a rational fear. Nothing bad would especially happen to me if this happened, but I was still terrified. I laid awake at night wondering if there were mice in my bed at that moment.
The mice had to go, but how?
Most people would probably go to their landlords, but for whatever reason we were afraid to, probably partly because we hated confrontation and also because they were a little crazy and usually drunk, so we did what any non-confrontational person does and took ourselves to the hardware store.
There are actually a lot of ways to kill mice.
But like I said, I didn’t hate these mice. I didn’t want them to suffer. And I especially did not want to see their dead, broken bodies all over my kitchen floor. Still though, it didn’t really seem prudent to do a catch and release. Wouldn’t they just come back into our apartment? Where did one even release city mice? What if they had diseases? Didn’t the city have enough mice?
What I’m trying to say is, I intended the kill these mice, the question was, how does one humanely kill a mouse? (This was before I had cats, obviously. Not that cats kill humanely, but at least I could blame the carnage on them.)
As I perused the shelves of mice killing devices, only one seemed to pop out at me. Probably I had watched too many mob movies as a child where some guy didn’t manage to get away and got the State’s justice.
No, I wasn’t going to hang the mice (although now that I think about it a miniaturized scaffold with tiny nooses sounds oddly cute (feel free to unfollow me after this post if that disturbs you, I LIKE MINIATURE THINGS OK)). (See Figure 1.)
But I was going to electrocute them.
Electrocuting something to death is surprisingly easy. You just need a current to pass through the heart, which means both
hands paws need to touch the two electrical contacts (full disclosure, I’m not a scientist… or an electrician… or most things). For a human, this would require a lot of juice. For a small mouse, a couple of D batteries.
(I made up this diagram, please don’t reference it for anything.)
The device basically worked by sending the mouse through a tight maze, lured by the scent of peanut butter (or whatever your mouse prefers), which is on the other end of a small electrified plate (there might have been two plates actually, I don’t really remember).
The first night we set it, I wasn’t sure if I was more nervous if I would catch a mouse or if I wouldn’t catch a mouse, but I dreamed all night of angry mice vying for retribution.
But I shouldn’t have worried. Even mouse warriors can’t fight science magic. When I woke up the next morning, the green light was on, and it would be on for many more mornings to come. (I made the husband dump the bodies so I wouldn’t have to see them, but one time I saw a small tail sticking out and it made me sad. Or grossed out. I can’t remember.)
Now, before you think I’m a monster, I… um… well, actually, I’m probably a monster. I don’t even know why I told this story, it just ends with dead mice. I guess I mostly just wanted to share the name I made up for the trap, but the name isn’t as fun without knowing the story. So, there you go. Mousecution. The end?