What the heck just gnawed through paper AND plastic in a sealed drawer?
August 15, 2018 6:14 PM   Subscribe

I opened up a drawer in the kitchen and found that something had eaten through the plastic wrapper of two paper towel rolls and taken a good chunk out of the paper towels too. The rolls look gnawed, like a mouse would gnaw at a loaf of bread. WTF? (Mysterious details below the fold.)

There's almost no way a mouse could get into that drawer, and even if it could why would it go crazy gnawing through plastic to get at the paper towels? I don't think roaches would do it either. I didn't find any living or dead mice, bugs or other pests in the drawer. We currently have a particularly stupid, belligerent cat houseguest with a history of gnawing plastic, but I'm certain she didn't get into that drawer. We have an unaddressed termite problem (our landlord is lazy) but I doubt termites would gnaw their way through the plastic to get to the paper, especially since the wood of the drawer itself seems untouched and there's no termite dust in the drawer. The drawer is below the stove (long story) and behind cabinet drawers (again, long story) and recently I had an incident where a water filtration device overflowed and a gush of water ran down the front of the cabinet. It didn't seem like there was any water damage down there, and even if there was I wouldn't expect water to eat into the plastic of the wrappers. I am absolutely baffled and creeped out.
posted by Ursula Hitler to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I bet it is a mouse and they are getting the paper for their nest. Mice can squeeze through incredibly tiny spaces.
posted by muddgirl at 6:18 PM on August 15, 2018 [53 favorites]

I agree with muddgirl. Consider that the mice may be getting into the drawer from the back side, while it's closed, especially if they are living (or accessing your apartment) through the walls.
posted by carmicha at 6:23 PM on August 15, 2018

Yeah, that is probably a rodent of some kind. They can get into crazy places you would never expect, and when you are demolishing walls or cabinets you often find nests made out of whatever soft, warm stuff they could scavenge.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:31 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yep. Mouse.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 6:32 PM on August 15, 2018

Mouse. If you take everything out of the drawer there will be mouse poops in there too.
posted by rockindata at 6:35 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

Mice love paper. It’s their jam. They make nests out of it and they seem to enjoy just eating it as well. So sorry to be chiming in with the bad news: that’s a mouse. Empty the drawer, put a trap in it, see what happens.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:43 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well, I emptied out the drawer and there were no poops. But the consensus does seem to be mice so I guess we should proceed on that assumption. Ugh.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:18 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a cat that can get a small drawer open. They are very adept at getting where they don't belong. And you said your cat likes plastic and paper. So I'd do something to keep the drawer from opening overnight (or two) and see if you still get chewed plastic/paper. If it is a series of drawers just drop a dowel down behind the pull handle and it will let you determine if the cat is playing around. A mouse seems more likely, but since there are no mouse droppings I would try to do something so the cat cannot open the drawer to confirm.
posted by JayRwv at 7:29 PM on August 15, 2018

There's no way the cat could open this drawer. It's a big, weird, heavy drawer that doesn't slide well, behind a couple of cabinet doors. It's kind of tricky for a PERSON to get it open! If these towels were someplace she could get at them I'd definitely think she was the culprit, but I think it's more likely some mice were sneaking around in there.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:05 PM on August 15, 2018

I've got pet rats and they could (and totally would) tear through the plastic wrapping on a paper towel roll in seconds. And they LOVE paper towels. Mice are smaller but could probably do the same thing.
posted by caitcadieux at 8:18 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

There's almost no way a mouse could get into that drawer

They don't have jobs or video games, so they can allocate pretty much all their time to getting into your stuff.
posted by amtho at 8:18 PM on August 15, 2018 [53 favorites]

Ursula Hitler: "There's almost no way a mouse could get into that drawer"

Your standard house mouse can fit thru a hole smaller than a dime (and can gnaw their way through many common building materials) and climb straight up a smooth piece of wood. If there are mice around and unless the drawer is sealed up like a pelican case a motivated mouse can get in.
posted by Mitheral at 10:17 PM on August 15, 2018

I agree that this sounds like mice - I've had mice gnaw through the plastic panel on the back of an old refrigerator stored in an outbuilding to try and get at the mold and crumbs inside.
posted by terretu at 11:26 PM on August 15, 2018

This sounds like mice. I currently have a mousy non-friend haunting my bedroom who has so far avoided my cat, my dog, and traps. They can be sneaker lil fuckers.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:39 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

My husband was once sitting on the toilet and a mouse ran passed him and wriggled through the space between the bottom of the bathroom door and the floor. You can barely see any light through that gap. If you can get a pencil through, a mouse can get through.
posted by like_neon at 1:50 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

When we had a rat problem at my mother s house a couple of years ago the exterminator explained rats and mice have a very flexible spine and ribcage and therefore can squeeze in to places you think impossible.
If you can look into the space between the cabinet and the wall.
posted by 15L06 at 3:19 AM on August 16, 2018

(and can gnaw their way through many common building materials)

Didn't use my oven for about 3 weeks after Christmas one year... Mice had chewed out the firewall insulation, had to buy a new range.

Also... where there is one - there are many, there is never actually only a single mouse.
posted by jkaczor at 6:31 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also, since it seems relevant, I've used traps similar to these and they are much nicer than the old Victor-style traps. Never had one fail to humanely dispatch the occupant and you can just squeeze to drop into the designated mouse mausoleum.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 8:56 PM on August 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

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