Smellingsworth part II: funk-no-more.

Last week I posted about a little problem. To recap: mouse invasion, lazy cats, sloppy kids, crappy traps, POISON = dead mouse in inner sanctum of fridge.

Try googling “dead mouse smell” and you’ll find many anecdotes about coping with the unholy hand grenade that is an un-locatable decaying rodent in one’s home. Nothing can quite prepare you for such a situation, but it is comforting to know that others have endured and taken the time to share their own stock of knowledge. Across the board, I found a pretty consistent projection of 3-4 days of intense smell. Unfortunately, by Saturday afternoon (Day 5) the stench had reached astronomical proportions, permeating all three floors of the house and out into the yard. We had had enough.

This is our old flashlight.

It’s what we were using last week in our unsuccessful attempt to locate the decaying carcass. As mentioned previously, it only pretends to be a flashlight and should be sold strictly as an accessory to Star Trek costumes.

Now armed with new blinding Workforce (read WORKHORSE) flashlight

we were ready. My husband again unscrewed the back of the fridge and began the quest anew. The smell was unbelievable, pouring forth as he poked around, until lo and behold – he found it!

The body was a mess, lodged right next to the fan (which would explain the powerful circulation), in a stage of mid-decay, covered in writhing maggots. I of course knew you’d want to see for yourselves:

Ah, what a birthday present! We disinfected the entire region and even poured a little cleaning solution into the well in the back of the fridge before reassembling everything. I can’t tell you how lovely the smell of Simple Green is wafting though the kitchen. Hooray!


Tuesday morning we go downstairs to the kitchen and my husband starts sniffing around near the fridge. “UGH, do you SMELL THAT??!” I stop what I’m doing and go sniff with him, and *gag* YES I do smell it. What the hell is that?? It’s disgusting. It smells dead.

Two hours later, cabinet unscrewed from the wall, back of the refrigerator disassembled and shop vac in hand, we realize that the mouse who’d deigned to die inside our beautiful stainless steel appliance was not coming out. Why? Because we couldn’t find the little sucker. Rather than pass away conveniently near the back or at least somewhere a human hand could fit, Mickey wanted extra privacy. It didn’t help that our only flashlight is a crank-wind wonder with barely enough power to light the inside of one’s mouth, let alone the deepest recesses of the underfridge. So, unfortunately we are now coping with the stench of putrefying mouse and I in particular am wondering how long it is going to be until it goes away and I can joyfully return to my beloved kitchen.

I don’t mean to sound so cold-hearted about the little guy’s death, after all, I used to keep mice as pets and do appreciate their sweet furry charm, but my husband and I have HAD IT with the freeloading field mice that have taken up residence in our otherwise happy home. It’s one thing to adopt a pet and commit to providing it with food, water and shelter, but it’s another thing entirely when a bunch of thieving vermin decide that your pad is the best one around and invite the whole stinkin crew to move in. All of the houses around here have mice – they’re old with lots of convenient entry sites, plenty of space in the walls, etc. – and all of the neighbors see them once it gets cold. But our mice moved in last winter and never left.

We have tried everything. We encourage our lazy cats to take an interest in defending their home – no luck. We lecture our kids not to eat outside the kitchen and dining room, never to bring food upstairs, and we sweep up crumbs with an almost religious fervor. We keep all food sealed in cabinets, all dishes out of reach, we even got rid of our third-hand macaw (another story altogether), who besides being incredibly vicious was so slovenly with her food, she single-wingedly provided enough vittles to satiate a whole village of mice. Then we hit the hardware store. First, I bought those humane traps, which leave you feeling happy initially thinking you are doing a karmic service to these poor misunderstood creatures, but then leave you angrier because oh by the way they don’t work for crap and you’re now out 5 times what you would have paid for the cruel snap traps. So then we bought the aforementioned kill traps, which only caught the one dumb mouse of the bunch. So then we succumbed and bought the horrific glue traps, which killed the slightly stupid cousin, and then were avoided completely by the rest of the brilliant mouse family who’d run right past them, leaving their droppings as calling cards to our frustration. Finally, we bought poison. I am ashamed to write it, but I actually welcomed the poison and with gusto asked my husband to hide it all around the house. We sat our daughters down, showed them the boxes of green pellets and warned them they would drop dead if they ate it. They – fortunately smarter than the mice – don’t touch it. The mice, left with few food prospects due to our “lock down,” have not fared so well.

It makes me sad and guilty, but I have to be realistic. It’s unhealthy to have a mouse infestation in one’s home. Our cats have killed three mice – but only outside(!) leaving them as presents for me on our front steps. We tried reasoning with the mice, to no avail. And now another one bites the dust.

It was fine having all our windows open the past couple days because of the warm weather, but this morning it’s cold and rainy and I’m getting even more salty about the whole thing because I can’t close them. Perhaps it’s divine retribution that I now have to live with the reeking remains..

On a much happier note, I am getting very excited because the countdown to birthday is on. Just TWO DAYS!! Don’t know what’s planned, but I looooves my birthday!!! and can’t wait to see what fun and goodies await. Not to mention CAKE. Woohoo!

Also, our dear neighbors across the street are retiring and in preparation for their move have begun weeding through furniture. I scored BIG TIME the past two days, nabbing not only some great garden gating and a small vintage plant stand, but this absolutely gorgeous oak dresser. What a bday present. Almost makes up for the stench.