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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rodent Disposal

Some years back, when I lived in a different state not quite as famous as NY for rodent infestations, I... had a rodent infestation. Tried everything to get rid of the buggers in a humane way, but nothing worked. After several weeks of hearing them in the walls and also finding mouse poo in my clothes drawers, I gave up. Called an exterminator, who put down sticky traps--usually the traps fold into a pyramid of sorts, but the exterminator assured me the traps would be more effective if left flat.


So I go to my grandparents' for Thanksgiving dinner. Spend the evening with my family, have a lovely time. Return to my apartment to discover an entire mouse family stuck to the adhesive trap. Four mice in all, two little guys and two larger ones. Screaming. Shivering, Stuck. Saddest fucking thing I ever saw, and it was my fault, and I had no idea how to get rid of them. If I threw them away, they'd likely starve, cannibalize one another or themselves, possibly chew various appendages off and escape. All sorts of horrors--not the least of which was the initial horror of being stuck to a damn trap.

The only solution I could come up with was to drown them in the sink. Seemed to be the quickest way to put them out of their misery short of crushing each of their heads one by one--and I couldn't do that. Simply couldn't. So I got a Tupperware container, put holes in the lid with a knife, filled the kitchen sink with lukewarm water, started crying, and managed to slide the trap full of shrieking and writhing mice into the container. Put the lid on. Put on a pair of dishwashing gloves. And held the container under water.

While feeling their twitching and panic, I told myself that I couldn't very well live with a family of mice--they were, after all, pooping everywhere and I really had tried to get rid of them in a humane way.

It took about 10 minutes for the little guys to finally kick off, and I disposed of them in the outside garbage can.

All of that is to say a recent YouTube video--since "removed by user"--depressed the hell out of me (there was extenuating circumstances of course, since I spent most of today at the DMV at Herald Square, which is enough to depress anyone). In the video, a hooting, cackling young male videos a small rat in its death-throes. The poor thing is rolling, literally, on a NYC sidewalk until it falls into a gutter and begins to convulse. There is a police officer also videoing the rolling/dying rat with her iPhone. At one point, the officer's process of recording interferes with the cackling idiot's recording, obscuring the rolling rat's body. "Yo," the cackling idiot yells at the officer. "Move over. I can't see."

The officer, dutifully, takes a step to the right, clearing the view.

Truth is, it's a horrifying video and I'm glad the YouTube video has been taken down.

Also, truth is, I fucking hate rodent infestations. Because we live in a pre-war building in NYC, around this time each year G and I usually experience a few mice fleeing the dropping temperatures. It isn't uncommon during September for one of us to be sitting in the living room and observe a confused mouse dart into the middle of our carpet, pause, look around, and then book it to the coffee table's shelter.

Mice freak me the fuck out.

Each year, I try to strike up a deal with them. "Don't shit on my clean dishes. Stay out of the bedroom. Don't gnaw a hole anything. Don't be seen." They never listen.

I'm a terrible Neville Chamberlain. They are a terrible Adolf Hitler. Treaties are struck, then broken almost immediately. (Which is a terrible analogy, I know. But I did even offer a mouse once a piece of apple if he'd just leave the apartment--I put a slice on the landing of the stairs outside our apartment, and the mouse followed, and I shut the door. Less than a minute later I observed the same mouse crawling back into the apartment.)

We do snap traps. Horrible. Each year, when the mice come, I spend months in an existential depression (Greg is more or less comfortable with mouse-slaughter, mostly because he gets better sleep since I don't awake him late at night by screaming bloody-murder. "I was going to the bathroom," I usually explain to him, "when one of the little buggers just darted out in front of me and scared me.")

There is no cohabitation with these guys. They're cute, sure, but they shit everywhere, and are carriers of disease, and the last thing you want friends to see, when you're hosting a dinner party, is a mouse sitting in the artichoke dip.

And while there are feel-good humane ways to dispose of them, I am convinced that all you're doing there is delaying the inevitable: you're setting them free to procreate and re-invade with larger numbers. Recently, someone suggested I catch the mice and dispose of them in a local 'green' place, and all I imagined was the mice diddling one another senseless then returning, Jason Voorhees style, to terrorize me another day.

So. Guilt. I gotta murder the fuckers because this is where I live. There is no satisfaction in finding a murdered mouse in a snap trap, but there's certainly no satisfaction in finding that same mouse pooping in my underwear drawer. There are some creatures we don't need in our apartments. Waffles, who also poops in the apartment from time to time, earns his right to be here because he's a dog, and he interacts, and he enhances. Mice, not so much. It's sad that the only way to domesticate rodents is to put them in a cage and pretend it's a normal pet.

It isn't. It's a rodent. It eats its young, and poops on clean dishes.

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