A Single’s Guide to Repelling Invading Armies


Being single has its trying times—I won’t deny it.  And sometimes there is simply no upside to having to do it all, all by yourself, all the time.  But you know what?  Over time you do come to know that the unthinkable is thinkable and the undoable is doable.  I have.  Let me tell you about it.

I live in a house that sits at the edge of the woods and on the banks of a stream.  From my window I see deer, turkeys, the occasional great blue heron and the more occasional giant tortoise.  Nature and I coexist companionably.  For the most part.

When I bought my house, I knew I would have to make some adjustments to country living: secure the top of the garbage cans to keep the raccoons out; net the blueberry bushes so the jays don’t eat my crop; keep my dachshund Rudy safe from predatory hawks.

What I did not know is that nature would invade my house, and that I would be on a state of red alert 24/7.  The enemy, the armies of the night, are…mice.  “Get used to it,” my friends say, “you live in the country now.”  “If you won’t get a husband, at least get a cat” my co-workers say, “tabbies will solve your problem, if you don’t mind the bloody bits.”

I first became aware of the rodential invasion when I found Rudy’s kibble neatly deposited on the bottom bookshelf in my study.  Rudy is as bright as wiener dogs come, but he’s not much of a reader.  Then I found another pile of kibble precisely mounded underneath the covers of the guest bed.  Rudy sleeps with me, lucky dog.  But it wasn’t until one evening, as I was finishing up a personal chore in the lav, that I came toe-to-whisker with an enemy soldier on reconnaissance.   The furry morsel of vermin rocketed from one corner of the john to another, jumping over my bare foot and causing me to leap up upon the toilet seat from whence I issued the ages-old battle cry, “EEK!  A MOUSE!”

Since then, I have been at war.  No holiday cease-fires.  No détente.  And most of all: no prisoners.  My aforementioned study is the battleground, complete with a Maginot line of fortifications.   Traps adorn the room’s perimeter, and the faint scent of peanut butter, my ordnance, hangs in the air like cordite after a fire fight.

At night, as I settle in for an evening of sweet dreams, I find it hard to drift off into never-never land until I hear the crisp, authoritative SNAP of a trap sprung.  There’s no better sleep aid, let me tell you, then the satisfying knowledge of a good clean kill.  Of course, I wasn’t always this bloodthirsty, and my first few run-ins with Mickey, Minnie, and the gang were of the more traditionally female variety.

One particular night, quite late, I heard a bang followed by a clatter that grew louder and louder.  I hid under the covers, but the noise kept coming. No knife-wielding intruder, however, invaded the sanctity of my boudoir, so eventually, as I kept listening, I decided that one of those large, scary woodland creatures—a raccoon?  a badger?—had somehow found its way into my house.  At that point, I did what I thought any sane single woman would do…I called 911.

It must have been a slow night, because three patrol cars (I am not kidding) showed up within minutes.  As officers with mega-watt flashlights patrolled the perimeter, several others, guns at the ready, searched the house.  After declaring the all-clear, the officers proceeded to question me—what exactly had I heard? Where did it come from? They concluded that whatever had made the noise—if indeed there had even been a noise—had found its way out the same way it came in.  I was about to agree with them until I looked down and saw, wedged between the heat register and the floor, a mousetrap with a live critter still in its clutches. “Oh, look,” I said.  “We’ll just be on our way now,” the cops replied, leaving me the odious task of figuring out how to put the struggling creature out of its misery.  They had the kindness to withhold their laughter until they were well out of the house. I, on the other hand, retreated to my bedroom, where I cowered till morning.

It was after that that I decided to get serious about ridding my home of these pestilence-bearing furry nuisances.  Here’s how I did it.  Plain, old-fashioned snap traps, baited with peanut butter are by far the most effective, especially when you place them against the wall in out-of-the way places. Under the couch, for example.  Poison is not an option for me because a) I do have a small, omnivorous dog that might stumble upon it and b) my aim is to get rid of the rodents, not torture them with a slow and painful death.  For the same reason I reject glue traps—and you should, too.  Forget about the have-a-heart traps: they accomplish nothing.

When disposing of a trap that has done its job, the simplest method is to throw the whole thing away. This is cost-effective only if you use the really old-fashioned wood-and wire traps.  If, however, you use the plastic traps that resemble a chip clip (not a good substitute, by the way), then pick up the trap with one hand; in the other, have at the ready a paper bag, open.  Turn your head the opposite direction from the bag, drop the carcass in the bag, and without looking, close the bag and throw away. Reset the trap and wash your hands.

Then look in the mirror and give yourself a victory salute, for you, alas, like I, are Supreme Allied Commander and grunt, tactician and technician, undertaker and honor guard in your personal army.

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