’Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Except for the mouse …
I guess I should apologize to Clement Clark Moore for altering his poem just a little bit, but I guess mice were a more accepted part of a household back in the 19th century when he wrote it.
I am thinking about this because I have a friend who recently moved into a house that is located next to a nature preserve. This is his first winter in the house, and lo and behold!, when the weather turned the mice who lived next door started looking for winter quarters. A whole bunch of them found their way into his house and he has been battling them ever since.
I am sympathetic. I have to say I am as much of a nature boy as the next guy. I’m all for mice and other rodents — as long as they stay at home. When they infiltrate into my house and chew through bags to eat all the Fritos and pretzels, well, I get downright homicidal.
Here’s the strange thing about mice and other rodents, such as chipmunks, which people think are very cute but really are just rodents with racing stripes. Everyone hates rats, probably because of that bubonic plague thing, but we don’t feel that way about their little cousins.
In cartoons, the poor mice are always the sympathetic figures, tormented by nasty cats. Think Tom and Jerry or Sylvester and Speedy Gonzalez. Then, there’s Mickey and Minnie. How can you not love them? Minnie even has a pet cat (Figaro). Figure that one out.
As for chipmunks, there’s Alvin and his pals and their annoying songs.
But while mice get the benefit of the doubt in cartoons, they don’t do so well in real life. Just the sight of one of them can send some people into hysterics. And there’s actually good reason for this.
Historically speaking, mice may be little creatures but they’re big pests. They destroy food – hence the reason Egyptians were really big on cats. They transmit diseases. Of course, human beings do all that, too, but that’s a different story.
A few years ago, I had a little mouse invasion at my house. My cat, who used to take care of this sort of thing, is pushing 20 years old so she has retired from active hunting. She just sits around and directs traffic for the mice, so I had to come up with something else.
At first, I tried the humane “better mousetrap” concept. I figured after all the years of mouse battles someone had to have built a better mousetrap. I bought some newfangled mousetraps that were supposed to catch the mice and then you could release them in some other field closer to someone else’s house. I put peanut butter in the trap just like the instructions said, and waited for results.
The mice got a lot of peanut butter but I never caught any mice. All I got was what mice leave behind after they eat peanut butter and Fritos.
So, sad to say, I had to resort to old-fashioned mousetraps. These worked like a charm. Within a few days, my problems were over. I would like to say I felt bad about it, but, well, truthfully I was just glad to be rid of the mice. They didn’t look a thing like Mickey or Minnie, anyway.
I hope my friend can stop his mouse invasion and figure out how they’re getting into his house. That will save future confrontations.
As for “The Night Before Christmas,” it’s a poem lacking in credibility. There’s Santa and the whole flying reindeer thing, of course. And what do you think Santa was smoking in that “stub of a pipe” he had in his mouth?
As for the rest of the house, it might be quiet at night but those mice wouldn’t be. They’d be stirring, all right, nosing around and eating all the cookies left out for Santa. Not even old Saint Nick would put up with that.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.