Volume 17, Number 41 | March 4 - 11, 2005

Downtown notebook

The mouse that drives me up a wall

By Angela Benfield

I’ve decided to get a cat. It’s not that I really want one. Though I do like all animals, I’ve always fancied myself as more of a “dog person.” And, I actually have a terrier. But he hasn’t been helpful to me in my current predicament. You see, it’s not so much that I really want to have a cat. It’s that I want to get rid of a mouse.

Yes, we have a mouse. I don’t know where he (or she) came from, but he’s been living with us for about three months now. I’m assuming – and hoping — he’s the only one. Excluding his tail, he’s about two inches long and a brownish gray color — the typical house mouse. But unless he starts chipping in for the rent, I want him to leave.

My first memory of a mouse was when I was about four years old and watching a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon. Jerry was running around on the kitchen floor under a chair that a woman was standing on. You could only see her from the calves down, but I could tell that she looked like Donna Reed. She was screaming her head off, waving a broom, and calling for Tom the Cat. Tom came running to save his mistress from the horrible mouse — who decided to fend off his attacker with a stick of dynamite. At the time, I wondered why anyone would be afraid of a cute little mouse like Jerry. Thirty-three years later, I can relate.

They pop out at you. You’re just standing there minding your own business and they come running by. It’s startling, and you never know which direction they are going to go. Worst of all, they carry diseases and leave mouse droppings all around. It’s enough to make a person sick. Unfortunately, the little critters have become quite a fixture in Lower Manhattan, along with their ugly cousin – the rat.

Rats are everywhere in Battery Park City. I guess it makes sense, since the area was built on the water. All the construction in the neighborhood doesn’t help either. Every time I take my dog for a walk after dark, one crosses my path. And I see the little rat holes in the dirt along West St. The good thing is that the rats are out of site during the day. Maybe they’re off at the office.

The weird thing is that I actually went to a store and paid money to bring rodents into my home. I bought my children hamsters for Christmas last year. For those of you who don’t know, hamsters are fat furry mice with no tails. As they are also nocturnal, the darn things drove me nuts running around on their wheels all night. Either that or they were making scratching sounds trying to escape from their cages. They used to get out all the time too. I found them in the closets, behind the washing machine, and one time I found one squashed behind my daughter’s dresser as flat as a pancake. I was surprised it was alive.

The hamsters were one reason that I couldn’t get rid of the mouse. How could I put out traps or poison when the hamsters were always making a break for it? How would I explain that to my eight-year-old son and eleven-year-old daughter? Mommy was trying to kill the bad rodent, but your beloved pet got it instead. It would cost way too much in therapy bills. Well, I don’t have to worry about it now. The hamsters kicked the bucket a few weeks ago (due to natural causes), and now I’m hoping that their mouse friend will join them in rodent heaven. But he seems to be a smart little devil. He’s managed to escape danger time and time again.

First, we put out glue traps. Days went by, no mouse. Next, we put out poison. At the very worst, the poison gave him heartburn. Then, we put out snap traps with cheese on to attract him. Not just any cheese – this is a Battery Park City mouse, after all – we put on bleu cheese. After a couple of days, the cheese was gone, but the trap was still intact. I had visions of him taking the cheese off the trap with a fishing poll – kind of the same way Jerry the Mouse did.

So, my last resort is getting a cat. I’m not looking forward to the hairballs and the litter box, but I can’t abide by this situation any longer. It’s disgusting to wake up to mouse droppings on the kitchen counter every morning. The cat will catch the mouse and finally put an end to this situation. Unless, of course, this mouse has a stick of dynamite.

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