Njal’s Saga

Until my neighbors got cats, I had a mouse problem. Every September they would send advance scouts. I would discover their presence, set traps, trap them, kill them and throw them out. Having lived in the California mountains in a house so infested with mice when I bought it that it attracted snakes, I have a zero tolerance policy toward invading rodents. In that, house, however, I had the advantage of Siberian huskies who are GREAT mousers. Lily T. Wolf once caught a mouse in the air as it dived from on top an armoire toward the floor.

Not the case here. None of my dogs were mousers. Dusty, Mindy and Bear would show me where the mouse was hiding, but that was it. It was helpful but seriously…

Then the ultimate mouse found his way into my house. I couldn’t trap him, he was so small. He was EVERYWHERE. I’d see his little shadowy form scurry along the baseboards, not even sure I’d seen something. I was into Icelandic Sagas then and I named him Njal for a great Icelandic hero.

Then one evening things got a little too close. He’d taken up residence in the blanket on top of my sofa. I was watching a movie on my lap top and had the strangest feeling I wasn’t alone. I sensed his presence (we’d gotten to that point) and sure enough. He was watching the movie over my shoulder.

When December came, friends came to visit and one of them brought his Australian shepherd, Reina. Reina used to be my dog back in California and understood the mouse drill very well. Within minutes she’d found and devoured Njal. I felt a small, very small, Njal-sized, pang of regret for a noble and friendly mouse, who, I think, really wanted to be a pet.

23 thoughts on “Njal’s Saga

  1. Mice, I don’t mind so much. I have a bunch of live traps I used to relocate them. They were quite effective. Rats, I have a bigger problem with. I don’t have any live traps appropriate to rats. Couldn’t find any that were cheap which is stupid because the live mouse traps were only a couple of bucks and really simple.

    The rats were in the attic and garage. Every now and then the dogs would catch one outdoors but that wasn’t where the problem was. We let the cats into the garage but it is so densely packed with clutter the rats could travel around without ever being exposed where the cats could get at them. I think they only got one.

    We tried a professional exterminator. He refused to put any effort in. Showed up, put out a couple of traps in easy to get to locations and came back a couple times over the next month to check them. WTF????

    I went out and bought a bunch of Victor snap traps for rats, did an analysis of where the rats where commuting and laid them out. Covered openings where they could be getting in, including where they’d chewed through drywall. Trimmed back branches where the rats were accessing the roof from. Rat proofing, replacing rat-contaminated insulation and repairing damage was supposed to be part of the contract but somehow he never had the supplies and tools with him to do it.

    I probably killed a dozen rats that way. Some of the young rats were too small for rat traps, so I laid out some mouse traps and got them. None of the “T-Rex” traps the exterminator used ever got a single rat.

    The solution he wanted to use was to lay out lots of poison bait and walk away. Completely unacceptable. Not only would the house smell of rotting corpses but there was a good chance of killing off dogs and cats and wild scavengers.

  2. I personally love mice BUT not in the house. Of course I’m not afraid of them. I have been known to catch a wild mouse bare handed and relocate it in the “mouse protection program” Spiders are an entirely different story! My mother often say I turn into Al Capone – I want them dead, and their family and friends too! I suspect that Njal was less a pet than a squatter – there for the winter, easy food, and lots of nesting spots… Then in the warm weather he disappears and next thing you know he has a wife (or 2) and moves them seasonally into the house too – pretty soon all your saltines are gone and the insulation on your wires now line a love nest. By spring you’ve got a mouse army living with you… Hehe. I know mice – as I spent many years as a mouse pimp. They make rabbits look like amateur breeders!

  3. If mice would just stay outside where they don’t annoy us, their lives would be great. Short, but great.

    They get into my garage and then try to burrow into the wall, so I set traps. I hate it, but I’ve read that unless you relocate them miles away, they’ll just find their way “home.” My first winter here, being clueless about mice in garages, I foolishly left food in my car. Soon I had mice in my car. Mouse poop on the floors, their pee making things stink, having to shampoo the floor carpet. I’d be driving down the highway and hear them running above my head in the space between the outer and inner roofs! Hearing they would nest in the car’s heating ducts in summer, only to be discovered when you first turned on the heat in winter, getting a blast of pee-scented heat, I declared war. Traps in the car and on the garage floor. I was astounded the number I caught. It’s an ongoing battle. Thankfully they haven’t ever made it into the adjoining house, but if they did I have no doubt Conall would have the problem resolved immediately.

    • I think you have two dogs of great mousing breeds. Mice will destroy the wiring in a car’s engine and in one’s house. There was an infestation in a pile of debris in my CA house that concealed the rattler that killed two of my dogs. Lily T. Wolf killed the rattlesnake. No mice for me, please. One year, though, they attracted a pair of barn owls (here). That was very cool.

  4. Sadly, I no longer feed the birds because our shed and compost became infiltrated with mice. We caught 13 out of the compost and relocated them. Many years ago I lived in an old log cabin and it was impossible to keep the mice out but we had a german shephard cross and he was a fantastic mouser. He would very patiently lay by the back of the stove as the mice raced around and when they ran out chasing each other he’d open up, like in the cartoons, and in went the mice. One time he got two at once! (We also had a pack rat family, but that’s a whole other story!)

    • I don’t feed birds, either. I have a bird bath. They can eat at the neighbors and drink and bathe here. 🙂 I did have a wood rat make a nest in my car engine. NOT a good thing and I’m glad I found it pretty soon after it was constructed.

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