Sunday, November 14, 2010

Descartes des rodentia out de door

I think, therefore I am.

I think I'm going to continue living in greater Houston, therefore I am going to be killing home invaders of the rodent kind on a regular basis, because that's just how it is here.

To say the same thing another way, there are only two kinds of people in Houston:
  1. People who already know that they have rodents in their houses.
  2. People who don't yet know that they have rodents in their houses.
 Cayley took this great picture of me and my then-latest conquest in 2005:

And so, for symmetry, I wanted to place today's encore! encore! shot here:

MSFT clip art.
But what a difference 5 years makes: she refused to take the photo, calling my killing activities barbaric and inhumane. 

Her first question was, "Can't we rehabilitate them instead?"  In other words, can we not perhaps engage the rodents in cognitive behavioral therapy and reach some sort of a mutual agreement that they won't invade our house and in return we will leave them unharmed?

Ah, no.  Whether it's the archenemy pictured above Rattus norvegicus or its equally-ambitious cousin Mus musculus, I just don't see good potential for intervention here.  Unless it's the kind that leads to swift and certain death. 

What I caught today was actually a mouse, our first one in all these years (with all other houses it was always rats, and the two generally won't coexist).  So Cayley, overwhelmed by it's residual cuteness (the term 'residual' being somewhat literal as well as figurative), proceeded to ask her second question: "Can't we catch them alive so I can keep them as pets?"

I have to confess, I'm not feelin' it.  I just can't get there. 

Mice are their own special kind of pain in the ass because they require us to stuff our weep holes with copper wool.  To you guys up north, that might sound like some some kind of dominatrix ritual involving the use of electricity: BZZZT!  Ooooh!!  But actually, no - weep holes look like this:

Highway to the heavens, acceleration lane to the attic, with Abe for scale.  We probably shoulda stuffed our weep holes before now, but with our stinky dog and frequent presence in the yard, I was hoping that the pests would pass us over.
So you guys up north have probably proceeded to wonder, "What kind of a dumb-ass mason would leave a gap like that in the side of the house?!" but we have to leave them.  It's a ventilation thing that allows the walls to breathe, so that moisture can disperse and the studs won't rot.  They let roaches in as well, but they are a necessary evil.  If we add barriers to them, they must be of the type that don't obstruct the air flow, hence the copper wool.  Rodents can chew through everything except metal, and steel rusts, staining the base of the house, so copper is the choice of champions.

Cogito ergo sumofabitch.  Cayley gets overruled on this one, and you're all little four-footed packets of dead meat. 

We don't like to poison our rodents here because they tend to die within the walls of the house and stink up the place for weeks while they decompose (been there, done that, still have nightmares about it). 

My personal choice is the tried and true, good ol' fashioned snap trap, which has recently been re-engineered (can YOU build a better mouse trap?):

Victor rat trap.  Available everywhere for about five bucks.
The professional exterminator who originally educated me on Houston-style rodent control recommended THIS as the ultimate trap bait:
It's got a good sticky consistency and will cling to the trap mounts.  It doesn't dry out and its distinctive fragrance lasts a long time.  Unlike peanut butter or cheese, it won't melt and fall off the trap in our oppressive heat. 
So far, I haven't caught anything with this substance, however.  It wouldn't surprise me if our mice have learned from us whilst living in this house and have turned out to be every bit as health-conscious as we are, because the only thing they've gone for to date is extra sharp cheddar.

And there you have it - everything you need to know about a subject you'd ratter not have to think about at all.

Now, if I can just convince Cayley that they really don't warrant a dignified burial ceremony...

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