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Exterminator X to the edge of panic
December 12, 2013 3:43 AM   Subscribe

We're renting a mid-50s house in south Minneapolis and have an unwanted guest (mouse). Our cat decided today was a good day to try and become a hero mouser but failed miserably so we spent this morning tearing our living room apart trying to catch the mouse she captured to show us but failed to kill. We're calling the exterminator this morning to get someone out today and need to be prepared. Help us!

Our rental house (single family) is "managed" through Renters Warehouse but requires the approval of the owners for any repairs or maintanence, who have been less than helpful during our time here. As a result we're paying for this on our own but, having rented apartments for the last seven years, we haven't ever had to deal with rodent issues or homeowner neglect before and want to make sure we do this properly.

After we moved in we noticed that the owners must have had problems with mice before (we found traps) but, being the incompetent cheap boobs they are, never addressed the entry points. We're both disgusted by having a mouse in the house and want to make sure we, to the best of our abilities, eliminate any that are in the house currently and keep any and all future ones out. Below are the questions and concerns we currently have for the exterminator:

- Get the mouse we almost captured today out of the house ASAP.
- Figure out where he came in and close it off immediately.
- Are there others in the house we haven't seen?
- What do we need to do to keep them out moving forward and how are they getting in to the house to begin with.

We don't care what it costs to get this resolved but we need it resolved ASAP before one or both of us totally blow a head gasket and read the owners the riot act while sharting on them. We just need to get this done ASAP and be assured that no more uninvited guest make an appearance in our house.

We're both at our breaking point with the level of homeownership neglect by these nincompoops and need to get this issue addressed ASAP. Since we've moved in we've spent well over $2,000 making repairs and cleaning up messes left by the current homeowner and are starting to consider terminating our lease if we continue to fund and perform maintenance that the homeowners should have done well before we moved in.

We do have a cat but, as I mentioned above, her mouser abilities are severely lacking. She did manage to catch the mouse this morning but didn't bother killing it and quickly ran away once it started running around the living room. To be fair, I did squeal a bit when it ran across my foot during my failed attempt to catch it.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
While you're waiting for the exterminator, you might want to leave your cat near where the mouse is and see if she grabs it again. It's easier to catch a cat with a mouse in its mouth than it is to catch a mouse.

If you pull this off, take the cat/mouse combo out of the house immediately and only then try to remove the mouse from the cat.
posted by emilyw at 3:50 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd totally cool down. Your concerns with the homeowners are one thing.

One Single Mouse in the house of a cat owner is not a thing.

It's almost winter and the little critters are searching their way in; heck, it may happen again.
Frantically searching for gaps isn't worth your time (mice can squeeze themselves through gaps you wouldn't believe how small they are. Really, until you find a clearly identifiable mouse alley, your chances of preventing them from entering are slim).

Have you heard any scratching? No? Then your guest may well be a solitary mouse, and not an infestation. Also give your cat some credit: she will get that mouse eventually, or the mouse will leave.

As to being prepared for the exterminator, let them tell you with professional authority what I just tried to write down (or a variant of it). Also buy some traps.
posted by Namlit at 3:55 AM on December 12, 2013 [10 favorites]

Way over reacting. It's a mouse, and you have a cat. This is a non issue in a day or so. I'm also in Minneapolis and have gotten two mice this fall inside. I'm pretty handy and have done everything possible to remedy this, but they will find a way. If they can fit their head through a hole the rest of the body can follow.

I have two completely worthless cats. They are pretty great at pointing out where the mouse is, but really suck at killing them. I'd say they get 1 out of 4, while I just see where they're concentrating on and scoop the others up in a tupperware or whatever.
posted by sanka at 4:32 AM on December 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

In two of the homes I've lived in, I've been startled by my cat chasing a mouse. At least once and possibly both times, the mouse got away. Both times, they were the only mice I ever saw. I lived in one of those places for two years; the other was my childhood home where I lived for over fourteen years. A single mouse may be a sign of an infestation, or it may be a total non-issue.

When you speak with the exterminator, be sure to emphasize that you want pet-safe treatments. You really don't want your cat eating a poisoned mouse or getting her foot stuck in a trap.

As for the landlords/owners, that's a different matter. I don't know the law where you live, but generally it's the landlord's responsibility to keep the place in good condition.
If you spend money on repairs, you should be able to get reimbursed for them. Read up on the law and consider talking with a lawyer if you're sinking money into a place you don't own.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:35 AM on December 12, 2013

Your cat caught the mouse! That's cat competency, especially considering her probable level of experience. It sounds like your squealing might have frightened your cat -- let her know that you still love her (you probably already did this) so that she's not too freaked out, and she'll probably catch the mouse again. Even if she didn't kill it the first time (and it might well have been seriously wounded), it will realize that it doesn't really want to live in a cat-owned house and probably won't become too comfortable.

You have enough cat to prevent an infestation, so that's good. Good kitty!
posted by amtho at 5:02 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Research the law and consider consulting with a lawyer before you spend thousands more on repairs for which you may or may not be reimbursed. I'd hate to see you spend money that could be the down payment on you own house fixing up someone else's place.
posted by Area Man at 5:14 AM on December 12, 2013

You have one mouse, *you have a cat*, and you called an exterminator? I'm confused...
posted by teatime at 5:42 AM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

You live in the midwest. You have mice. It is a fact of life in the midwest. If you're lucky, you don't see them very often. Entry points can include the sewer pipe (from the inside of the pipe) or the water main pipe (from the outside of the pipe), which you can't do a whole lot about. It's basically impossible to completely exclude mice from buildings where humans store or eat food, because they can live on such small crumbs and enter through such tiny gaps and holes. I was not actually aware you could call an exterminator for one mouse (although, sure, why not?). I've always just caught them in a shoebox and tossed them out in the yard.

Having one mouse in the house in the fall/early winter is not a sign of an infestation; the mice are cold, they're coming inside. It's what they do. It's probably just your normal handful of mice who live around your house; if you had an infestation you'd probably know. Store your food so mice can't get at it, and make sure you don't have plants or leaf litter right up against the foundation of the house.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:45 AM on December 12, 2013

Totally understand about the hoarding. Generally speaking, in your part of the country, if you are seeing mouse DROPPINGS or find a mouse NEST (with babies or now empty), you have a mouse PROBLEM. If it's just a lone mouse, especially in the fall and winter, you've just got a horrifying rodent friend who was looking to get warm and stupidly ventured out of his safe place licking the condensation off the pipes. Storing your food properly and cleaning the cooking and eating areas well will generally keep it to just your base level of mice who live in or around any human habitation but are unnoticeable 99.9% of the time.

Even if your cat is not a good mouser, simply the Existence Of Cat will keep most of the mice in their pipe-related safe places and scare them off from coming IN the house. Most house cats are not actually "good" mousers because they don't need to EAT the mouse so they'd rather PLAY with the mouse. (Or cricket. Or spider. Or bat who fell down the chimney, stupid bat.) That's pretty typical house cat behavior, finding the mouse but not, you know, finishing it off.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:47 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Give the cat some more time to do her job before wasting money on an exterminator. Agree that you will probably have to finish the mouse off yourself, but the cat can almost certainly catch it if you've decluttered your home enough to give your cat access to the mouse's pathways.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:21 AM on December 12, 2013

I think your tags do a good job of outlining the issues. There are two and they are mostly separate

1. Your issues with the homeowners

2. Mice

I would check with your local tenant's association to see what the rules are (if there are any) about when the warrant of habitability is impinged by vermin. A single mouse running through your house may not do it and give you the right to call and exterminator and charge the homeowner. I am currently battling a mouse and squirrel problem and here is what was helpful for me

- Steel wool is good for closing up holes because they won't come through it. Pay special attention to where heating and plumbing pipes come into the house and peek in areas behind fridge/stove as well. I had good luck stuffing up (temporarily) the little chimney that went through one of the burners on my stove that helped the oven stay vented. Mice were getting into the drawer underneath and using this as a means to get on the counters.
- Similarly look out for hanging stuff. I've found mice using my apron and hanging potholders to get from one shelf to another.
- Close up all food and cabinets, keep all dishes washed, keep dish drainer and standing water and crumbs to a minimum -- I am a normal mostly-tidy person who occasionally has toast at night. Cleaning up after even that made a big difference in the mouse situation. Wipe down all counters before you go to bed. Peppermint oil and or red pepper are both things they dislike and avoid.
- Give the cat a chance to do its job. Usually mice stay out of a place where cats are for the most part. Your mouse may have been unlucky or stupid or something

I know this is annoying and frustrating but you will be able to do a better job at tackling this problem if you are calmer and can try to get some perspective about this. Single mice in your house, while annoying, do not say anything about your own housekeeping and can be managed and dealt with. By and large they are not harmful, though they can (rarely) spread disease. I wish you luck getting this handled.
posted by jessamyn at 11:00 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Home Line is a Minnesota non-profit that provides information and advice for Minnesota tenants. In addition to free resources on their web-page, you can also arrange for a low-cost consultation with one of their attorneys (for some reason, they provide free consultations to people in every other part of the state).
posted by Area Man at 11:14 AM on December 12, 2013

Aluminium foil will work for blocking entrance points, too. You can scrunch it up to stuff in holes, or tape it on flat, as needed. And if you get as far as wanting to set your own traps, the little gits can't resist a small piece of a Mars bar.

Good luck getting it sorted. Hopefully it is a one-off mouse!
posted by danteGideon at 10:09 AM on December 13, 2013

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