Clement Moore wrote these immortal lines: "’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." If only that was true!

I’m typing this from a house in the Hill Country of Texas, between San Antonio and Austin, where we’ve gone to spend the holidays with relatives. I thought it was going to be lovely (picturesque!), but it has turned out to be a scenario out of a horror movie instead. The problem? In one word: Mice! We arrived the first night after dark, and made our way stealthily to the bedroom and crawled under the covers. We woke up in the morning to discover we had been lying on mouse droppings. In fact, the place has been taken over by these critters. From having country houses myself, I know that mice tend to come inside during the winter, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

But this house poses a special problem. First of all, the nearby fields are filled with donkeys and exotic deer. This sounds nice, until it’s bedtime. The house is very isolated and at night we can hear the deer blowing and the donkeys calling and these noises can seem very strange indeed to someone who is trying to sleep. The first night we were here, I tossed and turned all night–it was like falling asleep in a movie theater during a horror movie (if one could do such a thing).

But I later discovered it wasn’t just the donkey and deer noises that were keeping me up. I heard vague sounds of carnage taking place on the roof: Scrabbling followed by cries of agony, as if "Freddie" or some other horror movie character was out there. In the morning we figured it out: We had installed space heaters to warm the place up (it’s a stone house), and the heat rose, as it always does, and warmed up the tin roof. When the roof warmed up, the mice scrambled out of their hiding places and went up to the roof to keep warm. At that point, some nearby owls realized that THEIR Christmas dinner was now served, so they swooped down and had a gourmet meal. There must be some owls in these woods who are now so fat they can hardly fly, only waddle around.

The scrabbling and screeching, along with branches scraping the roof when the wind came up–all of which I heard dimly through my fitful sleep–caused me to create a dreamlike horror film scenario in my mind. I DREAMED a horror movie. But, come to think of it, my dream was nothing as bad as the rodent holocaust that was actually going on out there. The first day we were there, I called up the friend we are renting the house from and suggested he get an exterminator. The next day I called him and said he probably wouldn’t need one–that the problem had been taken care of. I wish I could say I feel sorry for those mice, but one look at all the mouse droppings everywhere, including on the dishes in the kitchen, has made me hardhearted, so I’m afraid I can’t.

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  1. Yup. No more mouse problem,
    Yup. No more mouse problem, and you didn’t have to do it. Nature took care of its own . . . with a little help from the space heaters.

  2. *chuckle* Horribly twisted,
    *chuckle* Horribly twisted, yet entertaining.

  3. Another hard lesson of
    Another hard lesson of adulthood to learn – mice are cute only in theory and in stories. I’ve had a problem like this myself, though on a smaller scale. Revolting, it was. The owner might want to take a good, hard look around the outside of the house to see where the buggers are coming in. Sounds like a nice place otherwise.

  4. We are battling this same
    We are battling this same problem here in LA. For almost a year we’ve had exterminators coming to try to rid our rental house of the little rodents. FInally, the owner of the company came and sealed up all the possible entries from outside – so far so good. It’s been a disgusting time of finding mouse poop on our kitchen counters almost every day -EW!, my art work nibbled on, and my hubby with pneumonia – which can indeed be triggered by inhaling mouse feces. I don’t know how they’ve gotten such a cute and cuddly reputation. In reality they’re destructive, dangerous, and tough to eradicate.

  5. About washing surfaces Ann,
    About washing surfaces Ann, grab a spray bottle and load it with
    hydrogen peroxide from drugstore, 3percent variety 99cents, and use
    it to wash counters, table surfaces, your hands, dishcloth etc.

    It has to be the worst feeling not trusting anything to be clean and safe to eat or drink from. The peroxide is wonderful for gargling and swabbing ears; protecting
    you from the immediate environment. Maybe set up a bowl of limes and lemons
    for a visual boost….Merriest Mouseless Christmas to you All

  6. Anne, I can sympathize with
    Anne, I can sympathize with you as I live in an old house in the country where we usually have a mouse or two come in in the winter. They end up in my daughter’s bedroom where the cats take them to “play” with. She has been awakened to hear the crunching of bones in the dark! Thank goodness they never bring them to show me!

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