Friday, February 24, 2012

Pesky Little Critters

When someone says, "Africa" what comes to your mind?

Probably animals - giraffes and the like.

Or maybe you think of all the scary little critters that probably make their abode here. I'm guessing a lot of people think of snakes, and while snakes do live in Africa, I honestly haven't seen that many in over 7 years of living here. I dare say someone who lives out in the western United States has seen way more snakes than we've seen here in rural, Bambili.

I'm sure spiders would probably cross your mind as well. And yes, we do have a lot of spiders. My kids know me well though, they always tell me, "But mom - you like the spiders, don't you!" And I answer, "Yes I do!" Spiders eat all the other critters that I don't want in my house - like roaches for instance. Spiders don't bother me at all.

Of all the little critters that find their home here in Cameroon, however, this is the one I hate the most:
Maybe you just screamed when you saw that picture...I know I stifled a squeal when I saw them on my parlor floor! It was actually Faith Ann who found them first. Kate and I were working in the kitchen one Sunday night, and Faith came in and said, "Mommy! There is a mouse on the floor." I was like...huh? Really? She seemed a little too calm for her to be saying that. I mean, if I'd just seen a mouse, I'd be screaming in the parlor...not running in the kitchen to tell someone first. So, Kate and I were a little doubtful, but walked to the parlor to see what she was talking about. Lo and behold, there was this tiny, hairless creature scooting it's way blindly across the floor. Yep...a mouse had just had babies. Ewww!!! Fortunately for us, I guessed that we had killed Mama mouse the night before and that is why baby mice were on the move. They were probably hungry and looking for their next meal. (Kinda sad when I put it like that.)

So, I disposed of the babies in the trash can outside. It was a little sad, but I kept reminding myself that little baby mice grow up to be big mice, and big mice can do a LOT of damage.

For example, here is one of the girl's quilts that their Grandma made for them:
It was almost as if this mouse methodically chewed each thread to take out all those seams. Most of the seams look like a seam ripper was taken to them. Wierd!

I'm not sure if it was this same mouse, or another mouse, but one of them had a fetish with plastic toys. At first I found them on the floor of the parlor with body parts chewed off (Eeyore lost his face). Then, on the night we found the baby mice (one of them was actually still inside the fire place trying to crawl out) I discovered these guys:
Yeah, one of these crazy mice actually dragged Prince Charming and a Littlest Pet Shop into the fireplace! Craziness! So far I've only rescued Prince Charming. He was near the front and I'm happy to report, he is in tact. I'm sure Cinderella will be happy that her love isn't maimed in any way. I've yet to discover how Faith Ann's little ostrich is faring.

So, as you can see, mice are destructive. Very destructive! They not only ruined one of Grandma's quilt, they also ruined one of Great Nana's quilts. They ruined many of the kids toys and just caused an overall big mess with mouse droppings everywhere. The first week here was spent trying to eradicate our mouse problem and cleaning up after the messy things!

The first part of the week, I put down those mouse glue pads. They usually work quite well, and so I figured if I laid enough around, I'd surely catch these mice. The first night we did in fact catch one. After that, however, they kept avoiding those pads...or escaping from them. One night I knew one of the mice had been stuck, because he left behind the end of his tail! That is when I decided to get serious.

Many years ago (probably 5 or 6) I'd purchased a product to kill mice - The Rat Zapper. I will shamelessly put in a plug for this amazing product.

When I first bought it, I set it up outside and just knew I'd catch a ton of mice! After a few nights of no kills, I was extremely disappointed in the product and it sat on the floor, at the back of my pantry for literally years. Well, at this point I am desperate to get rid of these mice, so I put batteries in my zapper and tested it with a metal screwdriver to see if it still worked and we set it in the kitchen that night and baited it with pancakes. Imagine my excitement the next morning when the red light was blinking on the top of the device, indicating a kill! Yippee!!! However, this mouse still had its tail intact. I knew there was another. We set it up again the next night, baiting it the same way. WooHoo!! Two for two! And this one was missing part of his tail!! And then finally, the same Sunday night that we caught the baby mice, I walked through the parlor late - at 11 p.m. - and saw a mouse scurry across the parlor floor and into the fire place. I went and grabbed my zapper and set it right outside the fireplace, this time baiting it with pizza dough. Sure enough - first thing in the morning the red light was blinking again. 3 for 3!! I'm not sure why I didn't catch any mice with it when I first bought it. Maybe I put it in an area where there was no mouse traffic. But even after it had been sitting through major climate changes for about 6 years - the electronics in it still worked like a charm!

So, I'm happy to report that as far as I know - we are mouse free. :) I discovered the hole that the mice had chewed in one of the door frames that was allowing them free entrance into our home. Ben filled that with cement and I think we are good to go. I am not worried however, since I know my Rat Zapper does the trick...and on top of that, we should be getting a new kitty within a week or so which we are all (especially the kids) excited about!
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