Eek! A mouse!
February 24, 2006 2:07 PM   Subscribe

How do I get a mouse out of an ash-filled fireplace?

I’m housesitting in a somewhat posh home. A mouse, running to escape the cat, climbed with ridiculous speed up the firescreen and into the (unlit) fireplace, which is heaped with ash and soot. If the mouse comes out on its own, it will leave greasy little sooty footprints all over the rugs. More worrying still, the cat is keeping a vigilant watch; I’m a bit concerned she might charge and knock over the screen in her eagerness to get at the mouse, thus creating a still bigger mess.

I've tried scooping it up with the fireplace shovel, planning to drop it into a coffee can, slap on the lid, and release it outside. Every time I got it on the shovel, the mouse simply leapt off into the bed of ashes. It is now cowering under the andirons, and I cannot reach it.

I’m astonished and embarrassed to discover that I cannot bring myself to plunge my arm in and pick up the damn mouse. Every time I get close to snaring it, it clings to me with its terrified little mousy claws and I shriek and recoil. I’m mortified, but will admit my shame if it gets me help.
posted by Elsa to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
A shoebox is easier than a coffee can. Too bad Albums aren't as prevalent.

Scare him out, drop the shoebox.
posted by filmgeek at 2:11 PM on February 24, 2006

Got a shop vac handy?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:14 PM on February 24, 2006

borrow a live trap from the local feed store or animal control
posted by luriete at 2:19 PM on February 24, 2006

I vote to remove the screen and let the cat do her thing. I can't imagine the mess will be too bad.
You will have to tell us how this turns out.
posted by exogenous at 2:23 PM on February 24, 2006

Chill. Lock the cat in a separate room. Then go out to a movie. I can pretty much guarantee the mouse will be gone by the time you come back. And those tiny mouse paws won't leave much ashy evidence.
posted by firstdrop at 2:26 PM on February 24, 2006

Got it!

I just had to take a deep breath and proceed with the shovel/coffee can approach. Once I'd dragged away the andirons and scraped away the ash, it went quite smoothly: scoop & drop. The real challenge was overcoming that visceral shudder long enough to steady my hand, and you all helped with that.

Thanks, everyone!
posted by Elsa at 2:31 PM on February 24, 2006

Congrats. And remember, only you can prevent mouse fires.
posted by Atreides at 2:44 PM on February 24, 2006

start nice roaring fire...cremation is a good method of disposal.
posted by Postroad at 3:39 PM on February 24, 2006

For what it's worth, this is a great story on this episode of This American Life, on how this could have been much, much worse. Grant it, it was a squirrel. Congrats. Look for the story about the newbie cop.
posted by jerryg99 at 8:04 PM on February 24, 2006

I guess it's solved, but it's worth saying... Don't pick it up with your hand! I picked a mouse up (my cat put it on my bed one morning, it was cowering in terror) and it bit me. It hurt, and I had to get a tetanus shot. FWIW I dropped the mouse out of the window, I don't know if it lived.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:00 PM on February 24, 2006

You got a tetanus shot for a mouse bite? I stepped on an inch long roofing nail and received a tetanus, but I've never heard it required for animal bites.
posted by Atreides at 7:46 AM on February 25, 2006

For future incidents, mice have been found to hate cheese. It's the last thing they'll nibble on.

However, they can't resist chocolate.

I keep a Hershey bar in my freezer. When I get a mouse in my apartment, I put out a snap trap with a 1/4" cube of the bar on the bait holder. By the next morning, I've got Mr. Squeaky, 100% of the time.
posted by KRS at 7:42 PM on February 25, 2006

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