20 August 2014

The Joker

Matt and I innocently went on a trip to Puerto Rico, leaving the Mutt Brigade for a week at doggie day care. Everything seemed normal upon our return. Then, the next morning, I asked Matt, "What the hell are these little black things all over the dining room table?" "I have no idea."

After finding a few more near the kitchen garbage can, it suddenly dawned on me: the creepy chocolate sprinkles were actually MOUSE POOP! Screaming commenced.

I ended up taking a mental health day from work, during which I altered between furious cleaning and passing out due to anxiety medicine. In the mean time, Matt was slightly more productive and called the rental agency. A pest control guy would be there on Monday. By my count, that was three days away, so I'd have to do something about the poop myself. Not cool.

After dinner, I decided that it was time to clean the kitchen. I was not going to sleep in a house with mouse poop. And I was definitely not going to clean mouse poop without gloves. Luckily, I found a pair of latex dish gloves. Unluckily, the poop gnomes didn't magic away the poop, so I started in the kitchen by following a trail of poop that trailed behind the microwave. I shoved the microwave out of the way and SKRIEEEEEEEEKKKK!

For five seconds we just stared at each other, while I alerted the entire world that I found the mouse. Eventually the mouse had enough and ran behind the fridge. Matt, suspecting that something interesting was happening, came running in. He pulled the fridge away from the wall, and I peeked in.
The mouse, holding himself up between the fridge and the wall.

"Now what?" "I guess we pull the fridge out farther." Another inch or two and the mouse fell. Wasting no time, he darted under the fridge.

There was barely an inch of clearance, and certainly not enough room to shove a broom underneath. The evil defiler of homes was safe from my broom. But not for long.

Matt emptied all the beer from the fridge, while I kept watch for escaping rodents. Then, he carefully tilted the fridge forward and VROOM the mouse ran across the kitchen towards the dining room. Not that we had a particularly good plan to catch him, but really? Did he have to make this any harder?

I bolted after him, via the living room, hoping to cut him off. Matt took the direct route through the dining room. The mouse took up residence underneath the liquor cabinet. This time there was enough space to look underneath, but I couldn't see anything. Even after tilting it, no mice appeared.

Okay, fine then. We starting searching around the boxes in the dining room and the living room. Still no mouse, just more mouse poop. Ew. Well, back to the last confirmed location.

Once again, Matt tipped the cabinet. This time the mouse bolted. We chased him across the living room, back through the kitchen, and into the the dining room. Instead of hiding underneath furniture, the mouse took the opposite route and climbed up a dining room chair. He calmly remained perched on the top of the back rest, while I fetched my broom and a plastic bin with a lid.

I snuck up on one side with my broom, while Matt approached with the plastic bin. Once close enough, I bonked him with the bristle end, causing him to half fall and half jump into the bin. Matt slammed the lid down and locked it.

I guess the situation improved, but now what on earth do we do with a mouse in a plastic bin? Why, name him, of course! I'd like to introduce Maurice Mouss, named after Maurice Moss from The I.T. Crowd.

He even looks like a Maurice.

Maurice spent his first night outside, with no food or water. In the morning, I filled a cough syrup measuring cup with water and gave it to him with some dog food. Clearly he had developed a taste for dog food during his free range days, because he ate the whole thing. He also knocked over the water.

By the end of the second day, Maurice's box was filthy and stinky. He clearly built up a reservoir of poop, because there's no way that much poop could have come out of such a small creature. There was no way in hell I was cleaning out the box, so it was time for a new one.

This time I made a proper Maurice box. I used my Leatherman to poke lots of air holes in the top. I lined the bottom with lots of newspaper. And I filled a small disposable tin tray for water. Now the only problem was getting Maurice clean and into the new box. That's where thick silicone barbecue gloves came in handy.

Matt slightly opened the lid, and I reached in and grabbed Maurice. While I held him over the grass, Matt poured water over him, resulting in a cleaner and visibly displeased mouse. Then I popped him in the new box. A new supply of dog biscuits were accepted as a peace offering. Mission accomplished.

The next morning we found Maurice at home. He chewed up newspaper to make himself a comfy nest.
Nom nom bed.

Monday morning finally brought the pest guy. He asked to see a poop sample with which he could identify the perpetrator. I said we had something even better waiting for him. He definitely was not expecting Maurice. In fact, it was the first time someone caught a live mouse and kept it alive for him.

He informed us that Maurice is a rat, not a mouse. I determined it was too late to rename him, as he'd already grown accustomed to Maurice Mouss. The pest guy declared a named rat to be another first.

The pest guy identified about seven thousand possible ingress points and prepared to leave. He offered to take Maurice somewhere safe and release him, but I wasn't ready to say goodbye. Yes, I was attached to the evil little rodent that defiled the entire house.

Matt said that I could keep him if I wanted. And I did want to. But after talking with various people, I couldn't bring myself to keep him. Who knows what sort of horrible salmonella he harbored? And how could Maurice be happy in a box after spending his entire life wandering the earth? I had to set him free.

After work, Matt and I loaded his box into the car and drove to the park at the very top of the hill. We hiked out about a quarter mile, until we found an acceptable bushy area.
Matt and Maurice having a moment.
Matt put the bin down and removed the lid. We both expected Maurice to immediately bolt, but he just stayed there, sniffing. Eventually, we gave up and tilted the container, subtly suggesting that it was time to leave.

Goodbye, Maurice Mouss.

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