Maxwell’s House

Maxwell’s House

Maxwell – By House Mouse Design

Perhaps you have noticed the funny mouse illustration on your dentist’s wall, the one with the big tube of toothpaste and the tiny, scruffy-looking mouse doing its best to squeeze the tube and maintain a fresh grin.

The creator is Williston resident Ellen Jerackie. Her company is called House Mouse Design. Her illustrations are famous, as are the little rodents she depicts with great affection.

As an animal lover, I find the idea of exterminating these “friends” rather difficult to swallow, but I noticed a distinct change in perspective the day I came nose to nose with a cute rodent in my kitchen and found the trail of little black gifts it had left throughout a utensil drawer and on the night stands.

My clean, organized space had been invaded and though my house mouse was rather cute, it was not welcome. We installed Have-a-Heart traps the next day. Our rodent guest never stepped in it, of course. The rodent population seems to have a way of conveying our human tricks to each other and eluding every new one. Perhaps there is a secret house mouse society. They meet at the intersection of water pipes and rafters, sitting in perfect alignment for a daily lesson from the great Booba of mice (ordained, not elected) who possesses knowledge beyond the cracker box and sock drawer.

Thus the house mouse continued to visit daily, around dinner time, until one day it disappeared. It was winter; a very cold one at that. I began to worry. House mouse had not come home to its warm bed, wherever that may be. On the one hand, I was glad it had taken it upon itself to search for a new home. But what if it had died of starvation, or frost, or worse yet, what if it had entered a home where the humans used a new extermination method it had not yet learned about in the greater school of rodent life? Could the great house mouse Booba have been wrong?

Meanwhile, between the four walls, humans have other concerns on their minds. Home buyers in search of insight frequently post their concerns on Real Estate Forums. They generally ask, “I have an offer accepted on a house.  When the home inspector and I climbed up to the attic, we found many traps and dead mice. I have to give sellers my response in three days. I’m not thrilled about buying an ‘infested’ house, but if the correct actions are taken, then I’m comfortable with going forward. How much can I expect the seller to do?”

As the seller, your best “defense” is to be pro-active and take care of the problem upfront, before even being asked. Unless you have successfully eliminated the problem a long time ago, and are certain it is a thing of the past, also disclose the issue and the steps you have taken to remedy the situation. You would want the owner of your next home to do the same, would you not?

In any case, do take the buyer’s requests to heart. It is not unreasonable for the buyer to require you to purchase an extermination and removal program and that you take steps to seal gaps and points of entry. If the presence of rodents was detected in the course of a regular home inspection, and if there is evidence of a serious problem, it is not unreasonable for the buyer to request a separate, pest-specific inspection. These are only examples of possible expectations on the part of the buyer. Communication is key to coming up with creative and constructive solutions that will satisfy both parties. Most of all, talk to your Realtor.

In the more rural settings we inhabit, mice are part of the territory, not inevitable, but possible nonetheless. For a mouse, a palace is just as good as a shack. The newest and most pristine construction can be infested. Mice do not make any distinction. We do. However, most home buyers recognize that the presence of mice does not diminish the good social standing or credibility of the home owner.

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