Originally Published: September 16, 2013 6 a.m.
There's a mouse in the house! Yes, that's right. Running down my hallway, scampering through the kitchen, with long squiggly tail, furry little body, big ears, beady eyes and razor-sharp teeth, this beast has unleashed all manner of rodent terror. "Home sweet home" has become a battle of wits, a place to fear (what if the mouse got in my bed ?!?!), a screaming, gasping, heart-pounding rodent home! My husband Doug, calm about most things, says "not to worry" about a little mouse, that he will catch and dispose of in short order. Of course, I should worry! It's a mouse!
Did you know that fear of mice is one of the common phobias in the world? Sometimes referred to as musophobia, it is defined as an irrational and disproportionate fear that leads to a compelling desire to avoid all contact with the little critter. For someone with musophobia, just looking at a mouse can cause anxiety, sweating, nausea, panic and shortness of breath. In other words, a mouse can induce a heart attack! Of course, all reasonable people know that a little bitty mouse cannot really cause grave bodily harm (unless you consider the panic attack a problem), but a mouse in the house can cause plenty of "calm folks" to get excited.
Since my "intruder" arrived I have had lots of time to ponder why I am so disturbed by Mr. Mouse. If I grab a flake of hay in the barn and notice a mouse scurrying away, I pay no attention. If I see one running into my garage I usually try to "shoo it out" with a broom and shrug my shoulders. If I go in my tack room and find a mouse I ignore it. But in my house? When my husband heard a loud scream coming from the kitchen, he came running in with his gun in hand, ready to protect me from the monster who was attacking me. When I yelled, "there's a mouse in the house," and pointed to a little fluff scurrying towards the living room, Doug laughed for a full minute. What's so funny?
Game on! I will conquer my fear (phobia)! Okay, so I have to wear my slippers at all times so I don't step on this rodent. What if he runs up the bedpost and burrows into my pillow at night to stay warm? And should I guard the cupboards in case he somehow manages to get inside? Hey, I have heard of mice liking to sleep in shoes or boots. And haven't they been known to run up a pantleg? I read somewhere that a woman fainted when she put her hand under the sink to reach for the wastebasket and touched a live mouse!
Doug got a couple of those "no kill" mousetraps. He remains cool and unbothered as he puts a glob of peanut butter and cheese inside the contraption, confident that it will work and then peace and safety will be restored. He served in the military and is a former police officer, so why should he fret about the evil beast? He points out that we are nature lovers and a "cute, little mouse" is nothing to stress about. Just because someone uses the word "cute"' doesn't mean I have to believe it. I reserve that word for puppies, babies and bunnies. Not mice!
A lady in Chino Valley emailed a few weeks ago saying that since the rains her barn has been "a kingdom for mice." She then thinks her husband brought a few in the house when he carried some old boots into the mudroom that he thought he would polish. Since then, she said their "happy life" has become a "living hell." Now, her house has so many mice running around that she is "a bundle of nerves" and screams on a regular basis due to "mouse stress." And the mean little varmints keep taking the cheese out of her traps but never get caught. Yikes, sounds like a horror story!
Back at the ranch, one tiny "cute" mouse was finally captured. Doug took him outside so he could find his mouse friends and all is calm. I do not need to tiptoe around the house and fear a mouse attack every time I put on a shoe or reach into a cupboard. Blood pressure is back to normal. Happiness restored. And in the future? No more musophobia for me!
But I did hear that elephants are deathly afraid of mice and have been known to become agitated when they encounter one. A well known circus elephant named Bella, got so frightened by a mouse during one of her performances that she stomped out of the show-ring screeching, knocking audience members over as she ran wild. And a man in Phoenix claimed he "freaked out" when he opened his garage cabinet and a mouse jumped out at him so fast that he fell backwards and landed on the cement floor with a bruised hip. A lady in Prescott emailed to say one Christmas night a mouse got into a bowl of chocolate candy that was on her coffee table and the mouse had eaten so much he evidently overdosed on the cocoa. Next morning he was found "dead as a doorknob, laying in an exquisite cut glass candy bowl." Throw out that bowl! Dear Readers, we must erase that image from our minds.
Of mice and men... I will take a man with a plan, a trap and some cheese.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor who lives in Skull Valley. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.