This Queer House, Vol 6: Of Mice and Murder

I do not like mice. I mean, I am obviously aware that they can be kind of cute and even smart, but you know what? There are a lot of animals that are even cuter and smarter, and they don’t try to hang out in my apartment uninvited. It’s like, do you pay rent here? Do you do the dishes? You absolutely do not, mouse. All you do is make me feel unsafe in my own home.

Yes, I am aware this is technically a cartoon, BUT THE SENTIMENT STANDS.

My wife and I have been living in the same apartment for three years and, up until recently, we had been blessed by the Mouse Powers That Be. Never once had we seen or heard any sign of pests whatsoever. I think you probably know where I’m heading with this, but I’ll tell you the facts anyway.

The beautiful sanctity of our apartment was cruelly dashed a few weeks ago when Steph, my wife, woke up to a grisly murder scene in our dining room. The perpetrators, aka our cats, did a real number on the “victim” (though I use that term loosely). And even though our cats are obviously heroes (and so is my wife because she did not wake me up before disposing of the body), the damage is done. The illusion of safety has been shattered and now I’m a paranoid mess who runs their robot vacuum maid (Rosie the Roomba) for protection almost every day.

So, what can you do to protect yourself from the same nightmare that has befallen me?

Preventative care around your home

Keep it clean. Here’s the thing: mice are going to be around, especially if you live in a city. As much as I wish it were not the case, there’s just no getting around that. My whole thing is just to hope that someone else’s apartment is more appealing to a mouse than mine is. To that end, I recommend cleaning regularly and storing food in airtight, unchewable containers whenever possible.

Figure out where mice could get in. If you have have any holes in your walls, take a look at last month’s This Queer House and fix them. If there are gaps in other places (like near pipes or under your cabinets or appliances), you can seal them with caulk or stuff them with steel wool, which mice cannot chew through. Make sure you look really hard for gaps! Those little fuckers can get through tiny spaces, like even one the size of a dime.

Actual steel wool in my actual kind of crappy kitchen

Get a cat!

Look at my little murder bbs I love them so much

Natural mouse remedies

Peppermint oil. I have read that mice do not like the strong smell of concentrated peppermint, so one thing you could try is to soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and leave them in susceptible areas of your home. I honestly do not know if this actually works, but even if it doesn’t it’ll leave your house smelling minty fresh so there’s really no downside.

Used kitty litter. I guess this is a thing people do. Not sure if there’s a black market for cat piss or anything, so you’re on your own there.

Less natural, but not murder-y

Ultrasonic Pest Repellents. These are things that plug into the wall and emit high frequency ultrasonic waves, which allegedly keep rodents (and other pests) away. However, Steph told me that she once watched a mouse casually amble across her dorm room floor, with no fucks to give, TOWARD one of these things, so I make no guarantees about their effectiveness.

Non-kill traps. I have heard that these traps work great as long as you bait them well (peanut butter seems to work best), but I’m not a huge fan for a few reasons. One, you have to deal with a live mouse at some point. Hard pass from me on that front. Also, like, where are you going to release that thing? How far do you need to go so that it doesn’t just immediately come back inside? Seems like A Lot™ in my opinion.

Burn them all with fire

Bait traps. These were recommended to me after my recent scare, but I haven’t tried them out yet. The premise is that the mouse comes into the trap and takes the bait (poison) and then they go die somewhere else. This could either be a very good or very bad thing depending on where that somewhere else is.

The “Rolling Log” bucket trap. I watched a youtube video about this and honestly I’m pretty scarred, so I don’t want to talk about it. The video is called “11 Mice In One Night. The Rolling Log Mouse Trap In Action. Best Mouse Trap Ever,” and you can check it out here (cued up to where the action starts), if you’re into that sort of thing.

Classic snap traps.

I hope things go better for you than they usually do for Tom

Ah yes, the Tom and Jerry Gold Standard. If you didn’t know already, I’m a total wimp about mice (and most things tbh) so I have never actually used one of these. It’s probably gross to clean up, but if you are planning to kill your rodent intruders this kind of seems like the best way to do it.

NOT recommended

Sticky traps. Listen, I know there is a section of this column called “Burn them all with fire,” but sticky traps seem inhumane even to me. Let me tell you a little story about one of the worst nights of my life. When Steph and I were just wee little scamps in college sharing a twin-sized bed, all of the mice in my neighborhood decided to mount a calculated attack on my apartment.

I won’t go into all the details, but there were at least five mice spotted in a span of like maybe twenty minutes one night. I ended up crouched on top of my toilet wearing nothing but underwear and galoshes. Steph ended up throwing a mouse on a sticky trap (that was trying to chew its own arm off) out my second story window into the dumpster below. We all do things we’re not proud of in the heat of battle, okay? Anyway, the point is just don’t get sticky traps.

Welp, fucking good luck out there. Do you have any other tips? Share them in the comments, please, for my sanity.

Jenna is a designer and writer who lives in Boston with her wife, Stephanie, and their two cats, Flapjack and Ellie. She is very passionate about fictional queer women, interspecies friendships, and food. She's still hanging onto a semi-impressive DVD collection. Just in case, you know? You can find Jenna on twitter, instagram, or check out her design website.

Jenna has written 34 articles for us.

38 Comments

  1. I just dealt with a mouse problem, and it was Not Fun. Just to clarify, I am not scared of mice – they’re just gross, and carry disease, and scurry through my walls, and I picture them crawling in my bed attracted to the heat….

    Anyhoo.

    A “mouse trap” I read about online that worked comically well, is totally humane, and doesn’t require any special materials is what my roommates call “The Mouse Bucket.” What you do is you take a bucket, smear peanut butter along the rim, and make a little staircase leading to the edge of it out of books or something. They climb up the “stairs” looking for food, try to eat, and fall in the bucket. Then in the morning, I take the bucket to the forest preserve and let them loose there. Did it for three days before mice didn’t come back, and it was hilarious to hear the little skitter, skitter, Plop sounds.

    Another note: deterrents like peppermint oil and sound emitters only work if the mice have not learned there is food in the house. After all, if you’re hungry, you’ll put up with an annoying sound to eat. So if you see a mouse, set lots of traps on your first night or two, catch as many as you can until they slow down, and then use deterrents after they’re all but gone.

  2. Thank you for some real talk on this fact of life. As a home owner in Orange County, we’ve had to deal with rats!
    To get rid of them we used a snap trap. It works about 95% of the time. As the designated house murderer it falls on me to do the dirty work. It’s brutal and I can’t bring myself to re-use the traps, but I will admit it gets easier with time.
    My wife sets the traps and I dispose of the bodies. One night we caught four. Yikes.

    • You have my sympathy and my admiration. I have a very deep seated loathing for rodents but can just about dispose of a deceased mouse but the line is definitely drawn for the other things. They’re my partner’s territory. My responsibility is for any kind of insect or moth. Not my favourite pass time but preferable to the other.

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