Lessons Learned

You’re probably super grossed out from our mice ordeal or at least tired of reading about it by now.

Sorry… I still have more to say.

Throughout this ordeal, I’ve scoured the Internet for information – mostly I found random threads and a few stories here and there. But I never chanced upon a blog that chronicled the financial, emotional, and deeply personal battle that results from living in a mice-infested apartment. Either people just aren’t affected by this sort of stuff or people just don’t want to talk about it.

Well, it makes me feel so much better to talk about it.

I can’t describe the shame and guilt that I felt about having mice in my apartment. Somehow I figured it was my fault – mice are dirty, ergo dirty people must have mice. Dirty people = me and ST. When I told my landlord’s son, he insisted that when he was living in this apartment, he’d never seen mice. So it must be something we’re doing wrong. The problem must have started with us.

This couldn’t be more untrue.

I tossed and turned last night and couldn’t really sleep until around 5 am. I kept dreaming about checking the mouse traps and seeing only poop and no dead mice. I seriously think I heard squeaking and scratching behind the walls. I even got up and turned the lights on to inspect. ST didn’t like that at all.

Now, after we’ve used up our last can of Great Stuff and laid out as many traps as humanly possible, as I sit here reflecting on the past 72 hours of my own personal hell, this is what I’ve learned.

  • It is not and has not ever been our fault. This place is old, grimy, poorly maintained and riddled with mouse holes. Sunset Park is also the center of the mouse universe. All of these things existed before ST and I moved into this seemingly perfect apartment over a year ago.
  • There is no shame in having mice! Even though ST didn’t like it when I discussed our furry friends with other people, it was really therapeutic for me to talk about it. There was no judgment, only sympathy and understanding (thanks friends!). 9 times out of 10 the person I was talking to also had mice. This is NYC people! Not just mice, but bed bugs and roaches to boot. It happens to everyone. This does not mean you’re a dirty person – those suckers are hardy.
  • Keep calm and kill mice. If you’ve stumbled upon this blog in search of “humane” or “nice” ways to get rid of mice, you should definitely leave now. I don’t want to cuddle or be nice to mice – I want to kill them permanently. The best thing to do is to remain calm and create a plan. It might not work the first, second, or third time you try it. THAT’S OKAY. You just need to be strategic and meticulous.

Through trial and error, we found what worked most effectively for us. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Great Stuff expanding foam. If you have mice issues, stock up on this. Depending on the size of your apartment, I’d recommend having at least one of these cans on hand at all times for emergency patch-ups. We recommend the triple-expanding foam in the black can. The foam in the red can doesn’t expand as much.

  • Marble chips. Any type of small rocks will do but a huge sack of marble chips were like $4 so that’s what we picked up. This works much more effectively than steel wool because the mice in our apartment actually chewed through the damn steel wool.
  • Glue-type mouse traps. Again – this post is not about the humane treatment of rodents. There’s setting and resetting – just pull it out of the box and place it where you’ve seen droppings. It’s completely okay to OD on mouse traps. Check out what the floor under our stove looks like:

Here’s what worked for us:

  1. Get on your hands and knees and locate every crack and crevice. Don’t just look for holes – they can crawl out of the tiniest places and little cracks become future holes.
  2. Fill holes with rocks. Get a chopstick or pencil and really push the rocks in there. Cram as many as you can in there.
  3. Cover holes with spray foam. I liked to dig down past the rocks and spray to my heart’s content. Then I’d cover the rocks entirely with foam. The result will not look pretty but this is the best method so far.
  4. If you’re super paranoid like me, set glue traps around this hole, just in case. Glue traps cost like $1 for four at our local deli so we went to town.
  5. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It is better to be safe than sorry so OVERDO IT. Overdo the crap out of it.

We tried other methods but they didn’t hold up as well as we’d hoped or read about:

  • Steel wool. Our mice chewed right through it.
  • Caulk of any kind. Our exterminator used white caulk that the mice chewed right through like it was pudding. It only took a few days for them to do it too.
  • Poison. This had absolutely no effect on our mice. They ate it, pooped green poop, and went on their merry way. So not only did we have regular disease-causing poop laying around we had disease-causing poop laced with poison. Terrific.

If things don’t work out in the future, these are additionally defenses we intend to try:

  • Peppermint essential oil. I’ve read a few times that they hate this smell.
  • Baiting traps with peanut butter. There are traps that mice crawl into and then get electrocuted. Then you just dump the body into the trash.
  • High-pitched noise makers. These gadgets supposedly give off a high-pitched sound that is inaudible to humans but terrible for mice. Some people swear by them. I’m skeptical but it can’t hurt.
  • Getting a dog. The most consistent recommendation we’ve gotten is to acquire a predator. The mice sense these animals and steer clear.

We know that this probably isn’t the final battle. It’s only a matter of time before the mice dig themselves a new hole or chew through rocks and plumbing foam. Both scenarios are highly likely. Moving would be the best thing to do although probably the hardest. The problem is that we have nowhere to go. Last week, we looked at 6 apartments, all of which were far worse than our current situation. Such is the plight of the common renter in NYC.

ST and I are now thinking and re-thinking our future plans for buying a home in Brooklyn. The popular spots are among the most highly-trafficked by mice and other vermin. It’s cute because ST constantly says, “When we move we’ll get this” or “When we move, we’ll get rid of that.” Everybody needs a goal and a hope for something more, something better. We’ll get there. Until then, this ride isn’t that bad.


About elbrooklyntaco

I'm a lover of urban living, thriftiness, and blogs! The concept behind this blog is to document the growth of our family and our adventures living in the concrete jungle of Brooklyn.

Posted in boredom, NYC


Permalink 2 Comments

2 responses to “Lessons Learned

  1. your mice escapades crack me up. i feel the same way about bugs. all bugs should die! i swear i was an exterminator in my past life. my sil said those high frequency plug ins worked for her. she bought a big pack at costco. i’m glad you’re learning that it’s not about u. mice r just mice. they like food, people have food so they find homes in people’s homes to fee their little mice fams so whenever there is food, there will be rodents. be happy u don’t have RATS!

    hugs to my anti-mouse sweet cousin!

    • OMG… if we had rats I’d move in with Mel. NOT JOKING. Those things are vicious. I think I’m going to pick up a pack of the high frequency things at home depot tomorrow. I need to go back for more foam and some bricks anyway. Yes, bricks. Thanks for the hugs… we sure need them.

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