Life In Our Mountain Town: What to do when mice get in your Subaru
Years ago, when my children were toddlers, I had a Subaru that was infested with mice. I’ve considered writing about this story for some time, but until now I had resisted, thinking that I might get a knock on the door from Children’s Protective Services after reporting this episode in our lives.
Having a vehicle infested with rodents who may carry the Hantivirus disease is a serious matter. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately for my family and me, information about Hantivirus had not yet surfaced, so we thought we simply had a mice problem.
My memory is actually kind of sketchy about the whole thing, except I do remember turning the key in the ignition, and then feeling a mouse scampering underneath my feet. I remembering screaming, but I truly do not recall whether I unloaded the kids, or if we drove off somewhere.
At the time I believed that the mice were attracted to the stray French fries that my children may have dropped in the back seat. But in hindsight, I now believe the mice were just an unpleasant fact of life, like weeds in the garden.
I felt somewhat vindicated after chatting with a friend of mine who lives in Alpine Meadows, who told me that she also had mice in an old Subaru of theirs, and that her experience also occurred before we all knew about Hantivirus. First the mice were in her house, and eventually they gravitated to her car. She could hear them snatching dry dog food from the dog’s bowl and scurrying away with their prize. She also claims that she and her husband could hear the mice, not scurrying, but galloping, in the wall behind the headboard where they slept. When she went out to start her car one day, she turned on the air conditioning, and suddenly insulation from their house was flying out the dashboard vents thanks to the clever work of busy mice.
I don’t ever remember hearing the mice getting into our dry dog food, but I do remember the holes chewed in the bottom of the dog food bag. I also recall finding a stockpile of dog food mixed with insulation from our house in cabinet drawers in our garage.
There must be something about dog food, insulation and Subarus that mice just can’t resist.
To get rid of the mice, we came up with several solutions, some more humane than others. Our family has actually acquired a few cats as a rodent deterrent. But when faced with the information that for every mouse you see, there’s really 10 more, I became pretty alarmed.
That’s when we made a trip to the hardware store for some De-Con, which apparently the mice eat, and then they get thirsty, and they go off seeking water and die. A few weeks after we set out the De-Con, a neighbor of ours who lived several doors down from us, came by and asked if we had a problem with mice.
We told him, “not anymore.” I guess that since water travels downhill, and we had some landscaping, the mice followed the downward descent of life-saving water.
We also had a squirrel living in our walls at that same house one summer. This guy turned out to be all alone, and not the head of a household of ten. But boy, was he a nuisance. We used to be able to see his eyes and face through the ceiling fan in the downstairs bathroom. He would spy on us and make taunting noises. And then one day, our fan stopped working because he had eaten through the wires.
That’s when my husband began to have a battle with him that got kind of personal. We made another trip to the hardware store, this time to purchase the more humane Have-A-Heart trap. We lured him with peanut butter spread on Ritz crackers and once we caught him, my husband drove about 10 miles up the No. 6 U.S. Forest Service Road before releasing him. I thought the distance my husband drove before letting him go was a little excessive, but he was determined that we never be bothered by that squirrel again.
Then we patched the hole where the squirrel had found access into the walls of our house, and then we sold that house, and that’s the end of the story!
Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.
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