So just a few weeks ago, there I was, midnight on Tuesday night, in front of the TV, bingeing on House of Cards and I get a text.
It’s my Rotten Kid, the son one.
Him: “Dad, are you still up?”
Me: “Sure. Just thinking about getting a snack.”
Him: “There’s a mouse in my apartment.”
Me: “I’ll be right over. With a cat.”
OK, just kidding about the cat part but suffice to say my RK’s brief message launched quite a flurry of activity centered around that ubiquitous of all rodents, the mus musculus.
Thing is, my son lives near downtown in a fairly, shall we say, “cost effective” apartment, but his place is on the fourth floor.
In spite of the “cost effectiveness” it’s a fairly new place, and he keeps his apartment clean and more or less tidy — at least to the level of young adult male tidiness.
So you can usually see most of the floor, underneath the dirty laundry and pizza boxes.
And anyway, you wouldn’t expect a house mouse to be scratching his or her way all the way to the fourth floor.
At least I wouldn’t have expected it. Until now.
I deduced cleverly that the rodent or rodents (because there’s never just one) must be sneaking up the stairs in the middle of the night because, they are nocturnal, after all — everybody knows that.
But of course, that’s just dumb. I’m pretty sure they took the elevator.
But of course, I was wrong again. How would their little rodent paws reach the elevator buttons?
But my son did what every person his age does when they have a life-changing problem to deal with: they search it up on the interweb.
And, sure enough, it turns out that the little mammals can fly, and they probably just zoomed up to his balcony and let themselves in through the sliding doors.
Oh, no, sorry that’s bats, those other type of rodents that look a bit like mice with wings — and you don’t want those things in your apartment either, that’s for darn sure.
But anyway, for a few days previous to the midnight text, he had been hearing some sort of scratching noise that seemed to be coming from the walls.
He just chalked that up to the neighbours or the pipes or something else to be expected in a “cost effective” apartment building, and tried really hard to forget about spooky noises in the walls in the dead of night.
And then on that fateful midnight, he was busy racking up some quality Netflix time when, nonchalant as you please, a fat little mouse toddled across the carpet in front of the TV and scooted behind a bookcase.
This caused a wee bit of kafuffle for the Rotten Kid who wasn’t really expecting a visitor at the time, and takes his privacy serious, especially when it involves rodents.
Now this kid of mine has spent many months living in jungles and forests in foreign lands like Ecuador, Madagascar and Vanuatu on volunteer wildlife research adventures so he’s no stranger to living with vermin.
Also there were a lot of small rodents around besides the other volunteers (har har).
But, as he says, to see a tiny red pair of beady eyes staring at you in the middle of the night in the steamy creature-infested Amazon is one thing, but in his own apartment in Central Alberta in the winter?
Not so much.
So the next day he contacted the landlord to send an exterminator and what they did send was a janitor with three snap traps.
You know, those classic spring-loaded mousetraps, which were invented by William C. Hooker of Abingdon, Ill., in 1894. (I looked it up.)
This not being anybody’s definition of professional extermination of a rodent problem, the RK went and purchased several more supposedly humane live traps with the thought of maybe relocating any varmints that got caught.
Perhaps relocating them to Saskatchewan, say.
He also bought a bunch of steel wool and other materials suggested by the interweb and proceeded to stuff all the cracks, crevices, gaping holes, etc., around the heating registers, plumbing, visitors, etc., until even the baby brother of the smallest ant in a colony couldn’t get in to his apartment.
Then one night a few days later, about 3 a.m., my son hears a shuffle shuffle shuffle and then a SNAP and, well, let’s just say it wasn’t the mousetrap snapping away all by itself just for fun.
So after he put on his work boots and his work gloves and gingerly, shall we say, very gingerly disposed of the problem, he spent the rest of a sleepless night listening for more shuffling and snapping.
And he spent the most of the next day reinforcing the steel wool stuffing, and adding a thick bar of weather-stripping under his apartment door. Just in case.
For a couple of weeks now, all the traps in his place remain empty; however, visitors to his apartment have to dance around being very, very careful where they step.
And pretty well every night there’s that scratching and rustling around, which of course means that god knows how many meeces are in the walls. Yikes.
But I’m just glad I didn’t have to get personally involved in a hands-on way in the vermin eradication adventure, I’m thinking to myself.
And then, at our house just the other day, as the ginormous mounds of snow outside the window are finally starting to melt, guess what I see? More snow.
Oh, and also, you are correct of course. It’s about noon and I’m looking at the birds on the bird feeders out of the window by the side of the house, and I’m noticing the piles and piles of scattered bird seed on the snow underneath the bird feeders and then a little mousey head pokes up from a hole in the snow.
I send a text:
Me: “Son. You up yet?”
Him: “Yep. Off to class.”
Me: “Want to drop by for supper tonight?”
Him: “Sure, I guess, thanks.”
Me: “I’ve got a little job for you.”
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.