A Prairie Homo Does New York: Ten Things I Hate About Mice

Hey, you know what? New York is more than taxi cabs, street food, and crowds. There’re also mice, rats, and cockroaches! Lots of them! How exciting, right? My roommate told me something really interesting the other day. He said that if all the walls of New York homes and buildings suddenly disappeared, maybe you’d still be able to see the outline of the city made up of rats, mice, and cockroaches! It’s like they’re the backbone of New York. Someone should draw that! Wow! I’m learning so many new things here in New York and I’m having lots of new experiences too, like ones with mice. Hey, so you know how there are those people who are really, really, really afraid of mice (like really)? I’m one of them! But how great is it that traveling is forcing me to confront my fears? Really great! I’m sure I’m growing as a person and all that (yay!) but in the meantime I still really hate mice.

Ten Things I Hate About Mice

1. When you tell people you’re afraid of mice, they respond with their most horrifying mouse/rat/cockroach story. How much sense does that make? None, whatsoever.

2. A friend told me: “I know this girl in Brooklyn who was in bed sleeping when she woke up to this continuous tapping on her arm and assumed it was the girl lying beside her. When it didn’t stop, she finally decided to get up and investigate. Turns out one of the ceiling tiles had come lose. The mice in her ceiling were dropping on her one by one…” I’m sorry, but what, what, WHAT?

3. “I hear mice in my ceiling,” I told my roommate. After saying he’d speak to the landlord, he left my bedroom with a “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the mice bite.” The next day he said, “At least we don’t have roaches. The apartment next to us had a cockroach infestation. The place was just crawling with them.”

“But they never got into this place, right? Why not?”

He told me his previous roommates were pagan nurses who set up a spiritual barrier against the roaches. I laughed.

“No, I’m serious.” He looked serious.

I stopped laughing.

“Pagan nurses or pagans who were also, like, regular nurses?”

“Pagans who worked in a hospital as nurses.”

“I see.”

The basement of our building is full of neon paintings of vaginas, left behind by the tenant who lived here before the pagan nurses. I hope it’s okay that I’m not a painter of vaginas or a caster of anti-roach spells.

4. “I heard mice in my walls,” I told a friend of the family who was visiting New York and taking me out for dinner.

“Oh,” she said. “Let me tell you. I knew a woman who had mice in her garage. Spent the weekend sweeping up the poop. By Monday she had what she thought was the flu, and a few days later she was dead. Hantavirus,”

“Oh my God!”

“No, don’t worry. It’s only carried by field mice. The urban ones are fine. Really, don’t worry. If New York mice had it, everyone in the city would be dead. Hahahaha.”

It’s really not funny.

5. I wrote half of my previous Autostraddle piece to the sound of mice squeaking in my walls. Usually, I prefer to write to music, to the melody of birds chirping, rainbows forming, children laughing, but this is New York so I’m trying to be open to new cultural experiences. I hope you appreciate that.

6. What if the mice have rat friends?

7. They’re not part of the queer community. Seriously. If they were, they’d stop reproducing and there’d be no more mice. Why do mice have to be so straight?

8. They’re big enough that you can hear them but small enough that they can sneak up on you.

9. Their beady eyes.

10. Their tails sticking out from underneath the stove…and hey, you guys, remember when I said I was more of a dog person? Well, guess what? I’ve changed! Cats, cats, cats! Soft, purring, cuddly, lean, mean, mice-killing machines! Someone get me a cat, please and thank you!

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Malaika likes books, drinking tea, long conversations, dinner parties, making funny faces, bike rides, and dogs. Originally from Edmonton, she now lives in Montreal where she edits, runs, and writes about the Alberta Tar Sands for The Media Co-op. You can follow her on twitter @Malaika_Aleba.

Malaika has written 84 articles for us.


  1. all things considered, i’d rather be infested by something adorable. i’ll take mice over roaches any day of the week.

    • the thing is you can kill a roach when you step on it but you cannot kill a mouse when you step on it. or at least i feel like i could not, the visual of that is making me wanna vom.

      • I’m sorry to inform you that this is incorrect – as proved by a member of kitchen staff who stomped a mouse spotted in my university’s cafeteria to death. :(

        • this is horrifying.

          but like maybe some people think i am a monster for wanting to kill roaches? so idk.

      • I don’t think you can kill a roach by stepping on it either, I mean maybe, but they’re reaction time is like 1/20th of a second or something crazy like that and they are fast as hell. They can also withstand high amounts of radiation, tough, nasty things.

        • i am a superhero and have totally killed roaches by stepping on them. also drowning them in water.

        • i would so much rather kill a roach than a mouse for the same reason
          i kill a lot of bugs
          i scream and run when i see a mouse

        • i hate stepping on roaches and so i have a very special swiffer that i use for smashing them.

      • So this one time I actually killed a mouse with my hands and I guess I have to explain that entire story because it makes me sound like a monster…

        my aunt and uncle converted their old historic home to apts and I lived there for a year. Apparently mice were a big fan of said home and liked to hang out when it started getting cold. My uncle warned me that this would probably happen BUT I was completely unprepared when it actually did, because I was in the midst of a hungover nap (I had broken up with my first girlfriend that week, so my friends got me preeeetty wasted because I had a lot of feelings). I kept hearing this little rustling noise while I was dozing but didn’t really think anything of it, til I roll over and see a little grey mouse by this plastic bag of clothes that I had put together to donate.

        Anyway. I sit there paralyzed for a minute because diseases and also I hate things that aren’t supposed to be there in my room, you know? I finally approach the mouse and it runs under the bag of clothes. I grabbed an old pillowcase and wrapped my hand around it, figuring that I will somehow get the mouse in the pillowcase and then take it outside.

        Every time the mouse pokes its nose out from under the bag, I try to grab it with the pillowcase. It’s too fast. A roughly 45 minute standoff ensues until I decide that no, mouse, this is not okay and I have better things to do with my time. I see it moving under the bag, clamp my pillowcased hand down on the bag, hold everything tightly while wiggling pillowcase and bag to get the mouse into the pillowcase.

        Unfortunately for the mouse, I held it a little too tightly because it no longer seemed to be moving and I felt really bad about it. Then I put my shoes on and went outside, where my uncle was actually doing yard work. The awkward part is that I was only wearing a flannel shirt and boxers. I couldn’t put on pants THERE WAS A MOUSE IN MY HAND, you know?

        anyway, I just gestured to the bag and said “mouse,” then we stood there in silence for a minute until he said “do you want me to get rid of it for you?” and I said “uhhuh.”

        So I guess I’m a mouse killer now.

    • I’ve heard that mice eat cockroaches, so that’s really awesome.

      Also, never get sticky traps. They’re traumatic for everyone involved, and sometimes you feel really bad and end up prying the poor stuck mice from the trap and letting them run away.

      • Wholeheartedly agree, glue traps are the worst. Nothing like waking in the night to “eeeeeeeee!” emanating horribly from the hot water heater crawlspace.

    • The roaches in my freshman dorm would attack you if you tried to kill them. Not exaggerating. I have video of my roommate doing battle with one. She even had a broom, but the roach gave no fucks. And they make these horrid sounds and can survive just about anything. They would come up through our drains, horror movie style. Gotta love dorm living.

  2. I can’t even imagine.

    #7 made me laugh though.

    Did you know scientists are actually generating gay mice? Google it. Your wish is somewhat tangible lol

  3. no the worst is when your roommates aren’t scared so they think you’re crazy for being terrified of the mouse in your apartment and they still leave food out and stuff because they’re not terrified so who cares?

    also if a bunch of mice fell on me in my sleep i would probably just die.

  4. Another characteristic of New Yorkers is how they love to regale you with urban myths about mega-rodents and vermin. Move there and, within a couple of months, you will have someone earnestly tell you about the giant Javanese rats (yup, like many urban myths it’s also racist) who came to the city on board Dutch ships. I lived there for 11 years and never saw one (rats yes, giant Javanese ones… no). You do need to keep your apartment scrupulously clean or you’ll have roaches, and steel wool is your friend for plugging up any holes in the wall.


    one of my favorite things about not living in new york anymore is that i don’t have to freak out every time a crumb falls on the floor that a mouse is gonna infest our living space. there were mice in every apartment i ever lived in in new york except for the six months i lived in brooklyn, even in some of the offices i worked in!

    i even bought this thing from an infomercial when i was stoned at 2am that said it would send radars through the walls to kill mice

    i don’t think it worked

  6. The thing I hate most about mice is that theyre incontinent, so they leave a trail of pee over EVERYWHERE THEY GO. Ew ew ew.

    In answer to 6, though, rats actually kill mice so you’ll only ever have one or the other.

    • But what is really cool is the pee is visible in the uv spectrum so predatory hawks (who can see uv) can track rodents by the urine trails from 200 feet in the air
      Maybe invest in some falconry lessons rather than that cute kitten.

  7. you know what helps a lot is having a cat that hunts and eats smaller creatures. if you wanna borrow my cat for an afternoon, you’ll probably have less mice real fast.

  8. At least you’re safe re: “6. What if the mice have rat friends?” Where there’s mice, there are no rats, and vice-versa. Rodent feuds, I guess?

  9. I had mice in my old apartment. It’s the worst. Pester your landlord/super about it because it’s likely a building problem. Especially old buildings.

    In terms of killing roaches, Febreeze them (or spray them with hairspray). They breathe through their skin, so the spray will heavily slow them down, and then you can step on them. :)

  10. Mice are the only animal that really creep me out and reading this article and the comments made me squirm! But it came at a good time- I had a mouse in my house a couple of weeks ago (luckily my landlord dealt with it).

  11. You didn’t have mice on the prairie? I grew up in the country and the mice arriving in the house told me it was fall.

    • For the most part, they’re not very common in apartments unless it’s a really, really sketchy building. Or there are restaurants/food services in the same building (hello, campus residence).

      This is however coming from an urban perspective on the Prairies. I’m not sure how it is in rural settings.

  12. I have learned so many fun(not) facts about rodents and roaches from the comments section! Thanks y’all.

  13. I have no desire to live in NYC, I freak out if I see a couple tiny ants. I would freak the fuck out if I had to deal roaches or mice, not only would I have a panic attack before killing them but I would have another panic attack when it came to disposing of them after they died.

  14. I just feel like if a mouse touched me I would be like “No, mouse!” But having recently dealt with a roachy infestation, when one got CLOSE TO MY BED or when one was IN THE SHOWER WITH ME and I thought it might touch me I made weird nervous noises and whined ” no no nooo no no no nooo noooo” for forever.

  15. When you have access to farm land outside of a small city, it’s good to release the mice in fields… but when you are in a huge-ass city like NY, where do you release the mice?! I could never kill a mouse so this sounds like a never ending battle.

    The story of falling mice made my whole body twitch. Horrifying!

  16. I still want to move to New York but this article and the comments are stressing me out goddamnit

  17. I’m giving up resisting the temptation to tell this story..

    I was living on a small island on the Andaman Sea in Thailand. My bamboo bungalow was nicked the “jungle” bungalow because it was set the furthest back of the ones in the small resort, a stone’s throw away from the trees. I had big geckos living in my ceiling, which was no issue because I liked their unique call and they eat mosquitoes. One night I woke up to a big RAT scurrying across the beside ledge RIGHT BY MY HEAD. I somehow horizontally jumped and screamed.

    The next day I stewed about what to do. Maybe it wouldn’t come back? I didn’t want my bungalow resort owner to have it killed or set traps, but I also didn’t want it running beside my head at night. Ech. I figured I would tell him if it came back again.

    I didn’t wake up the second night, but in the morning found evidence that it had gotten into my stuff. Specifically, into my big plastic bag filled with (unused) o.b. tampons. I thought, “hmmm, I wonder…?”

    The rat never came back and I suspect (and hope) it was victim of its own greed, killed by tampons expanding inside of it.

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