Tales of Tails and DIY Mice Extermination



Throwing a mouse out of a third story window is strangely satisfying.

At 5am this morning, my cat let out her forlorn screamy meow that distinctly resembles a yodel. A “MeoRAAARW!” ending in a falsetto squeak. She uses this meow for emergencies only.

“Whaaat is it, Kitty!?!??!” I cried, still half asleep.

Her name is not “Kitty” but it is when it is convenient. She replied with another, more insistent yodel. Grunting, I got out of bed and switched on the light. I looked down and there she was with a tiny black mouse squirming around in front of her.

LittleBoo! Now, Kitty is not a mouser. She was weaned too early from her momma and subsequently was unable to attend the “What We Like To Chase, Torture and Slowly Kill” lesson. The last time I put her in charge of a mouse (she was closer to it!) she batted it around a bit and then stared at it. It ran across the room and she just sat there looking at the place where it just was. “KITTY!!! GO GET IT!!!” I yelled. Nope. Kitty simply has other skills…like kissing, snuggling and being super cute for example.


I dropped to my knees and, flustered, picked up a pair of shorts that were on the floor of the closet beside me. I spread them out and, in a split second, wrapped the mouse inside. I ran to the sun porch, cranked the window open and set the thing – with my shorts – flying.


“The fall”

“The carnage”

It was a little surreal. Breathing a half-asleep sigh, I laughed. “Well, Kitty, what else needs killin’?”

This mouse appearance was not completely shocking. For weeks now I have heard rumblings underneath the kitchen sink and Kitty, of course, would periodically patrol the area. I would have preferred if she were more like me and chose to pretend it wasn’t there, but no, she was apparently raised with less dysfunction.

I have killed before. I owned – or rather rescued from the street – a very feral but lovable cat. He enjoyed bringing me live animals like mice and birds, but his favorite thing was leaving me their bloody carcasses right outside my back door. I ask you: what could be sweeter?

This cat came and went, inside and out as he pleased. (If I didn’t let him out, he would attack me). One day I was in my kitchen – the room attached to the back porch – studying for the GMAT’s I ended up not taking (that’s another story) and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something dark attached to his mouth. In a moment of similar panic, I smashed him – the mouse, not the cat – with a GMAT study book and screamed. Images of bloody mouse guts sticking to the other side of the book flooded my head.

The downstairs neighbor knocked on my door.

I answered, “Yes?”

She looked down at my rubber-gloved hands. One held numerous rags and the other a pair of tongs that were heavily swathed in plastic wrap. I looked like I had just robbed a linen closet.

“Mice?” she asked.

Clever neighbor.

When mice LIVE inside your home, you need more than a GMAT book.

I experienced my worst mice infestation in my former apartment located in Brooklyn, New York. Before I moved in, I’d had an exterminator come in to check for bedbugs. He instead found ridiculous amounts of mice feces on the floors, in crevices, and even on the walls which he had never seen before.

“Are they rats?” I asked.

“They could be, or just really large mice,” he answered. He told me what to do to get rid of them and I am proud to say that I eradicated the mice infestation all on my own.
How did I do it? Well, funny you should ask, I was just going to tell you.

For an entire two bedroom apartment (about 700 square feet),

get yourself to a hardware store and buy this stuff:


1. About eight packages of steel wool. Do not get the thicker grades, the threads will pierce through rubber gloves and cut your fingers. Stick with grade 00 or 0. The older your building is, the more steel wool you will need. If you have extra, use it for holiday decorations; the kids will love it.

2. One or two pairs of heavy-duty rubber gloves.

3. Two cans of expanding foam. Get the kind that will expand MORE than one inch. The more, the better. Check out the product here: http://www.expandingfoam.org/

(Yes, they have an “org” – who knew?)

This product will be located conveniently near to…

4. Four-six cans of caulk. It doesn’t matter too much what kind you get, something like this is fine: http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1419414&cp=2568443.2568447.2624903.2624915

The clear caulk is better for areas that can be seen such as wall/floor crevices.

I use the white caulk for larger areas like underneath sinks (for aesthetic purposes; petrified steel wool is ugly).

5. A caulk gun. (Bonus: if you like gadgets, it’s fun to use.)

6. A flash light and batteries.



1. Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting nasty and gross.

2. Do surveillance on your abode scoping out where the holes, cracks and crevices are in the walls and floors. Clear away any furniture and other belongings. Mice love to come in where water pipes are so clear out underneath your bathroom and kitchen sinks so that you have space to work.

Keep in mind that mice can squish themselves into a space as little as 1/4 of an inch. Channel your OCD self in order to not miss a single entry crack. If you miss one, your efforts will not be effective.


 1. Put on your gloves and open a package of steel wool. Spread out the steel wool pillow to make it easier to form. Stuff the steel wool into all crevices. For tiny spaces, use a butter knife or another implement to pack it inside. For bigger gaps, the wool will fall into the holes – add more steel wool until it is STUFFED and spilling out.

2. Open a can of expanding foam and read the directions. Attach the straw piece to the nozzle and shake the contents as directed. WARNING: Protect the areas around application as well as yourself. After applying, more foam spills out of the straw so have paper towels ready so that you don’t end up with foam in your hair like I did. (It doesn’t wash out, but it looks kinda cool).

Spray the foam covering the areas where the steel wool is, on top of it and around it. Mice CAN eat through both expanding foam and caulk, the point of these materials is to ensure that your steel wool is secure.

3. When the foam is dry – 20 minutes or so – use your caulk to seal around the foam.

The caulk is primarily for the places where expanding foam is not needed. The foam will only be used for wide gaps like those around the pipes underneath your sinks.


There. You are finished. I’m so proud of you.

There is a possibility however that you trapped some mice inside your home. After I plugged up the holes there were three more mice that were hiding underneath the refrigerator. They like to nest underneath stoves and refrigerators. You may want to get traps in advance for this purpose. They will come out when they get hungry. I will not tell you what happened to the three that were left with me but let’s just say they could’ve used parachutes.

I am happy to say that Kitty is now free of distractions and is back to her job of being cute and snuggly on a full-time basis.

Feel free to tell your own tales, tips, stories, commentary, blah blah blah!! xo