At least I didn't actually jump up on a chair . . .

It all started with an entirely different household pest - the ants. The ants and I have been at war lo these many years. Every summer (according to the exterminator) they are driven into our house by either severe drought or severe flooding. Or evidently if it’s day or night, or cloudy or sunny, or if our neighbors bait for ants or if they don’t, or if it’s a day ending in “y.”

The other morning my husband announced that the countertop was suffering a large invasion. He killed what he saw, and went blithely off to work. For several hours, I killed one or two at a time, but they kept popping up on that counter. It looked like they were coming up from behind the stove. So I decided to pull out the stove and see if I could block their entry.

I admit, I had not cleaned behind the stove since we moved in. There were crumbs, and yes, even some hair from the previous occupants’ dog. But it wasn’t too bad. Until.

Until I saw a small roundish lump covered in fine gray fur. The good news - it wasn’t moving. The bad news - how long had it been there? My skin started crawling. You read about that and it seems like a metaphor, but no it actually felt like my skin was trying to ditch my body and depart for somewhere devoid of rodent corpses.

So I sucked it up and did what any competent, modern woman would do - I shoved the stove back and called my husband at work. He promised to remove the mouse when he got home. Unfortunately, my three year old daughter heard me tell him there was a dead mouse behind the stove. When I hung up, she asked me about it. I told her it wasn’t anything terribly scary or bad, it was just icky. And I did a kind of “this is really icky, my skin is trying to crawl off my body” dance to illustrate, mincing my feet on tiptoe and shaking my hands as if trying to dislodge some imagined contamination. She patted my arm and responded with sympathy and understanding,

“Oh Mommy, don’t be like that, it’s just a dead mouse.”

Duly chastened by the superior coping skills of my toddler, I finally decided to do the heroic thing, namely to wrap my hand in three thicknesses of grocery bags (the good sturdy Target ones) and wad five paper towels in said hand, the better to insulate me from any possible sensation of oozing, squelching, or crumbling, never mind actual germs. I told my daughter to stand back, and pulled out the stove once again.

Boldly I peeked into the revealed space. Steeling myself, I leaned a bit closer. And I noticed the mouse’s ear was a weirdly vivid pink. Wondering what grotesque process of decomposition had caused this effect, I looked closer, only to discover the horrifying truth . . . it was a cat toy.

Suffering equally from shame and an adrenaline hangover, I grabbed the dissembling novelty and trashed it. And now I must live with the knowledge that not only am I a lily-livered pantywaist, I am also no smarter than the average housecat.

Sometimes it’s easy to confuse one thing for another.

AerynSun, I wish to thank you for a good belly laugh! I needed it!

Many is the time I have nearly broken bones trying to avoid putting my weight on what I believed to be a portion of cat anatomy under my foot, only to discover it was a cat toy and not an actual cat.

As an aside, what kind of ants do you have? Are they the large, black ones? If so, then those are carpenter ants, and if you get as many as you say you do, year in, year out, then they probably have a nest going in the frame of your house. It’s hard to get rid of them once they settle in like that. When I was growing up, we got them every summer, and my parents even called some exterminator and he sprayed crap everywhere but they still came.

Last fall they tore off the old front porch we had…the front porch that was essentially just rotted wood…well, guess what was rotting it? Yup…ants. Well, that and water, but mostly ants. With all that old, ant-infested wood gone, and a shiney new porch installed, nary an ant has been seen this summer.

AerynSun, you did more than I would have done. I didn’t marry and produce two sons just to have to dispose of dead vermin (or anything resembling such) myself.

For future reference, if you don’t smell it before you find it, it’s not a dead rodent.

I was thinking the exact same thing. One of these days I’ll tell you about the mouse that died under the stove on thanksgiving while the turkey was baking. Not an aroma I want to remember anytime soon.

Not entirely true…

Just this past weekend, I got roped into helping my wife and her co-workers, who were repainting their workplace. The place probably hadn’t been painted since around 1983, so things had been a bit neglected.

Well, they had several very heavy filing cabinets that had to be moved for this painting party, so move them I did. And naturally, underneath many of them was the Dust of Ages.

My dear wife was cleaning the carpets for taping. Suddenly, there came a scream. What she’d just picked up, thinking it was just a wad of dustbunnies, was in fact a long-dead mouse. She realized it was a mouse, she later said, when she saw its face. It should be noted that my wife is seriously mouse-phobic, and won’t even approach the “rodent” cages in a pet store.

As the husband, mouse disposal is my duty. So, I got some paper towels and removed its little dessicated corpse from the premises. It was indeed a mouse, complete with tail (turned black long ago). It had been dead so long that it was basically a skeleton with fur, which was pretty gross to pick up.

Okay, technically, I disposed of it after I went behind the cabinet, wadded up an empty towel, pretended to pick it up, and tossed the empty towel to her. She was not amused. Although her scream was quite funny.

I have an old, old house, and in my time I’ve run across both varieties of mouse, the dessicated mummified mouse (while remodeling) and the manky, runny mouse (while trying to figure out why the living room smelled like a salt marsh at low tide). I prefer the dried version. But I’m pretty sure that the mummified mouse passed through a smelly phase on its way to immortality.

I also have several cat mousies lying about, and back when my mouser was still alive and in the habit of bringing her trophies upstairs for me to admire, I would often step on something in bare feet in the middle of the night and hope desperately that it was a cat toy of the inanimate variety.

astro, I remember that thread, and I remember feeling bad for you. :wink:

bouv, our ants are only a few millimeters long, so I doubt we have the same problem. I think the persistence is largely due to us living in a human habitrail, where the first order of business was to raze all existing nature, scoop off the topsoil and sell it, and then put in lawns over bare clay. I’m sure it resulted in weird habitat anomalies, such that in drought the ants come in seeking water, yet when it rains it almost instantly flash floods (at least from an ant’s perspective) because there’s nothing to soak up the water, so they run away looking for high ground.

And yeah, I figured it might be a mouse mummy, all dried out and jerky-like from the heat of the oven or something. Creepy enough, but surely preferable to a gooey mouse.

Thanks to your user name in conjunction with this post, I now have a mental image of Claudia Black with an oversized gun pulling back the stove to go after a toy mouse. :smiley: