Monday, April 27, 2015

Unwelcome Guests by Susan R. Hughes

One of the frustrations of home ownership is the uninvited guests who drop by. I’m not talking about your distant cousin from out of town who needs a place to stay. I’m talking about those creatures that come in through tiny cracks and crevices and are sometimes nearly impossible to get rid of.

When we moved into our house that backs onto a public path, we had no idea the mouse problem we were in for. They appear in our house year round, leaving evidence of their presence on our kitchen countertops. Disgusting as it is, I hate killing them. Their little twitchy noses and beady eyes are so endearing. I used to catch them in a humane trap and take them to a park six miles from my house to release them. Then I came to realize that they would probably starve in the snow, get eaten by a predator, or find their way into someone else’s house and be killed there, so why was I bothering? Besides, I got tired of chauffeuring a mouse to the park every few days. 

I got cold-hearted and started buying snap traps. But they don’t always work the way they’re supposed to, and I can’t stand causing suffering to any animal. So last weekend I spent $30 on a trap that is supposed to electrocute mice quickly as soon as they walk into it. I set it up on the kitchen counter, loaded it with peanut butter bait, and waited. In the morning, I found evidence of a mouse in the kitchen, but no one in the trap. Sometimes I think they are smarter than me.

Now that’s it’s springtime, the ants are back too, marching two by two into my kitchen. One of my five-year-old twins delights in whacking them with a fly swatter. Borax traps seem to work fairly well. Every summer, bees somehow get into our basement. They die quickly if they can’t escape, but we recognize the value of bees and always trap them as soon as we see them and release them outside. 

There are outdoor critters to contend with as well. The racoons are cute when they appear at night and lounge on our deck furniture, but not so cute when they take up residence in the crawlspace above the bathroom, and then fall through the eaves. Or rip through our trash bags and scatter garbage everywhere. We hope we’ve blocked things up well enough this year so they won’t be back. 

Meanwhile, rabbits and groundhogs who live under the deck drive me crazy chewing up my garden. If I don’t cover my vegetables with netting, the plants are quickly reduced to stumps. 

But what do we expect? We've encroached on their habitat, and we can hardly blame them for taking advantage of a free meal, can we?

What critters do you have invading your house and garden?

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Susan R. Hughes writes contemporary and historical romance novels set in Canada. Visit her website here. Want to keep up with news from Sweet Romance Reads authors? Sign up for the SRR newsletter today.


  1. Gophers, possum, woodpeckers, hawks. I prefer these to what's at my daughter's home - recluse spiders, snakes, coyotes.

  2. Get a nice outdoor cat and your mouse problem will be greatly reduced. I have three cats and two of them are fantastic mousers. I pity the poor, hapless critter that sneaks into my house. My cats go into a frenzy. Yum, snack time!

    As for the raccoons, etc., a nice Labrador or other hunting dog will take care of that! We had to put a special screen on our fireplace chimney to keep the coons from coming down into our fireplace, but that's it. I do have to be careful about cat food on the deck, though. It draws raccoons and opossums at night, especially the 'possums. For some reason, they love cat food.

    I live in the country and see all kinds of wildlife in my back yard. My favorite is the flock of Sandhill cranes that nest in the wildlife area next to my neighborhood. One time a doe dropped her newborn in my neighbor's empty horse barn for a day and, of course, I had to go over there and see it.

  3. Wow, sounds like you sure have your share! I just finished trapping and closing up a hole from two squirrels.

  4. Last year neighbors on both sides finally cleared their lots to build. We got all the mice! We even tried the large sticky traps until one of the dogs got under the cabinet and walked out flopping the trays that were stuck to his hairy feet. Luckily between all the filling of holes and the brush clearing finally ending, we have been mouse free for a year. But I do hear them trying again. Last year they got into the oven insulation and we had to replace the oven. The possum on our fence a couple of weeks ago scare me to death. It was at least 20 lbs and ugly. I hope he find new territory.

  5. We used to have problems with voles and rabbits invading our yard and our garden. Our big tom cat took care of that!

  6. I just moved into my apartment in March and am finding Ladybugs. I carefully pick them up and take them outside to a bush. I can not kill a ladybug. I carry two glass ones given to me by my Aunt who passed away, they move from purse to purse.