Mice Phobia

The fear of mice is a very common phobia known as musophobia or miceaphobia, people who deal with this fear can experience anything as small as a start, or as detrimental as full blown anxiety attacks and, as a psychotherapist, it’s a phobia I encounter quite often. I also work from my home so that clients are more comfortable opening up to me, hopefully you understand where I’m getting with this. A few weeks ago I discovered my dog, Ruger, barking and scratching at my dishwasher of all things, it was odd behavior but I just brushed it off; until I opened the pantry door and a mouse ran across my foot right underneath my stove! I cannot afford to have the nasty, little creatures running wild in my home, especially if I’m in a session with someone who suffers from musophobia!
I took action immediately, I laid traps in the pantry, behind the dishwasher, and underneath the stove, and even laid poison outside (in places my dog couldn’t get to it). I took every precaution I knew to take, but last week I found another mouse in my food storage, perfectly content and snacking on a Hershey’s Almond Chocolate bar. I tried to catch it but the darn thing was too quick, there was no way I could grab it, so more traps were bought and set up. I thought I had it under control until, DURING A SESSION, one of the little rodents ran right through my office. Luckily my patient wasn’t particularly afraid of mice, but it did give us both a start. After that I called in the professionals, I just couldn’t risk it any longer.
Now these guys were fast, they were at my house three days after I called, and they could have been the ghostbusters with all the gear they had ready for me. They set up nine traps total, seven in my house and two in my garage, placed kill boxes (small poison boxes) outside to stop them before they could run in, and they sealed up any hole the mice had chewed in the wall so they couldn’t keep sneaking their little butts around. We’ve already caught two and it’s a huge relief for me. Now any client in my home, with a mice phobia or not, won’t have to ever see them again.

Snake in the Wall

My life became Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets last year when we found out our snake was in the wall. Benny is a Boa Constrictor that my daughter was given by a friend who was moving to Alaska and just didn’t have room for the massive 6-foot snake. We didn’t either but since Sasha loved him so much, we did anyway, without exactly understanding the caretaking it would require. Although we had been given the giant aquarium for the snake, he wasn’t done growing and sprouted two more feet in the next month or two making him too large for the cage, but we just couldn’t afford his new home just yet, BIG MISTAKE. With his strength and length, it didn’t take him long to figure out how to push the top off and sneak out from his home. Luckily we caught him and were able to more adequately secure him inside, or at least we thought.
While my husband and I were at work, and Sasha and her sister were at school, Benny the Boa had plenty of time to plot his escape. I’m still not sure how he did it, but he definitely did and by the time we got home, we were trying to solve the mystery of the vanishing snake. We looked everywhere, high and low inside cupboards and behind dressers. We searched here and there and everywhere but we could not find him! The Amber Alert went on in our house for about a month, but it seemed like he had slithered himself into the woods and out of our lives. I’ll admit I was a little relieved but Sash was heartbroken by his disappearance so we kept our hopes up and our eyes peeled, I mean how hard could it be to spot an 8-foot giant?
As it turns out, it was pretty hard. Benny had to find us. About two nights ago while Kaitlyn (my other daughter) was sleeping, she woke up to find that the sneaky snake had intertwined his scaly, slippery body with her legs and the bed posts and was trying to climb behind the bed. Fortunately she was too sleepy to be startled and instead just untangled him, carried him upstairs, and plopped him onto Sasha’s bed with a disgruntled “I found your snake”. He had been crawling around in the walls and the air vents, probably just feeling out his new jungle since we had never let him. Everyone’s glad to have him back, and I’ll admit that even I’m a little pleased with the return of our snake from the wall.

Raccoon on the Roof

As much as I love to chase balls, playing with the raccoon on the roof was much more fun. Hi, my name is Trigger. I’m a four year old yellow lab and I love, love, love chasing animals, almost as much as playing with my human, Carson. Ever since my family moved to Huntsville, Utah, I’ve had all the animals you could dream of chasing. Mice, deer, cats, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, and even cars (but I don’t know if those count as animals), my mom always yells at me to leave them alone, but I know she really appreciates when I keep them far away from Carson and our house. Dad sometimes takes me on special trips where all I do is chase ducks and bring them to him, those are my favorite days, but the day I chased the raccoon on the roof was one of my favorites.
It was just a regular night, mom and dad were asleep and I was laying at the bottom of the bed keeping watch, that’s when I heard the black-masked bandit sneaking around. I warned my parent’s with a loud ‘WOOF’ and ran outside to investigate further. What I found was unbelievable! The raccoon was trying to get off of the roof! No way was I going to let that happen, dad would be very disappointed if I let it get away without paying its penance for disturbing my watch. I jumped up on the wall and barked as loud as I could at it, he tried to escape to the other side of the house but I met him there, still howling and snarling. As he ran from one side to the other, I followed close behind, running laps around the house. I could have been Usain Bolt I was moving so fast!
Eventually mom and dad came to make sure I was okay, they told me I was a good boy and brought me inside, dad took care of the raccoon on the roof while I was rewarded for my bravery. Although it wasn’t chasing ducks with dad or mice with Carson, it was the best day because I protected my family and saved them from disaster. Never again will any creature mess with Trigger, they know how tough I am, but secretly I’ll miss the little guy, I’ve never done something quite as bold as rescuing my family from the raccoon on the roof, yet.

Squirrels Chewing Christmas Lights

Now I don’t know if anyone else is having this problem, but I’ve got squirrels chewing the Christmas lights that are wrapped around my house. Every year I’ve dealt with them but never like this, the lights are stripped to the wire in some places, chewed at in others, and completely gnawed through in one or two! I couldn’t believe it when my daughter called to tell me that the lights had shut off after only a week of being up! It seemed unreal to me that any of the bulbs had gone out, but I crawled up anyway to check it out; and, very much to my surprise, I found them split in two right where the cable crossed underneath the pine next to my house. Well after that I had no doubt who the culprits were, after all, squirrels have just about the sharpest teeth you’ve ever seen.
Since I couldn’t just up and replace my lights every time one of the pests got their hands on them, I had to figure out a way to keep my lights in one piece, and the squirrels too. I tried the pigeon spikes, no luck; cutting the branches that hung over the house, they climbed up the stucco. After my ideas were all out the window, I took it to my most trusted advisor; Google. As it turns out, several other people had been dealing with squirrels chewing at their Christmas lights as well, but the universe was on my side. A man in Maine had just this problem, and had the solution for it as well.
So, following the tips I got on my favorite search engine, I ran some of the extra electric fencing I had left from my horse pasture along with the new lights, and plugged it in (on a very low setting). If it could keep my horses in the field, it could keep the squirrels off my lights! I kept my eye out for any funny business that night, and sure enough around 8 o’clock, my unexpected victim hopped from the tree to my roof. It sat next to the bulbs for a minute, looking around for any predators, before it grabbed at them, and BAM, just like Holly Holms and Rhonda Rousey, it was lights out for the squirrel! I haven’t had any problems since, but it might not have been the best way to deal with squirrels chewing on my Christmas Lights.

Mice in the Walls

My mom told me that it was just mice in the walls, that the scary scratching, running sounds were nothing more than that, but daddy told me a secret. He said that when little girls like me turn 6, the boogie monster will hide in the closet and under our bed to steal all my stuffed animals, and I just had my birthday! I want to believe mom that it’s just a little, fuzzy mouse, but sometimes at night, the walls and floors make creaky sounds like it’s coming for my favorite stuffed bear and I know something as cute as Mickey Mouse wouldn’t do that. When I told my brother Joey about it, he told me I was being a baby and put teeny, tiny traps in my closet, but monster’s aren’t that small, so I came to my own rescue.
My unicorn is stationed with Growly the bear inside the closet by the traps, just in case he gets past them, and for double back up, I put all my Barbie’s and my brother’s old army men around my bed just in case he came from under there. Then, all I had to do was watch and wait for it, but he must have put a spell on me because I fell asleep. When I woke up all the toys were gone, shoved into the toy dresser! He snuck right under my nose, and so that night I set up an even BIGGER army, this time I put thumbtacks I found on moms desk under the window and locked it shut and I dumped my brother’s Lego’s right in front of my door, I wasn’t going to let him get away this time! The last piece of the puzzle was bait, I set out my favorite animal, Mr. Fuzzy, right in the middle of the room. Then, since he made me go to sleep last night, I pretended this time so he would think his spell worked again.
It took a long time but eventually it got dark enough and late enough that the monster woke up, I heard him start scratching in the walls and my closet, then I heard a ‘SNAP’ sound, a few seconds later there were big footsteps in the hall. I couldn’t take it, I hid myself under my covers and hoped he wouldn’t see me, and then it opened the door. Luckily my trap worked and the monster stepped on the blocks and let out a howl, then it said my name! I peeked from under the blanket to see my dad on the floor holding his feet, he was coming to check the mouse traps because sure enough there was a big fuzzy something in the trap. I guess it was just mice in the walls after all.

Family of Skunks

A few years ago my family discovered a family of skunks living under our home! To clear a few things up, my house isn’t your everyday sort of home, it’s built from old, one-room log cabins that were used in the 1800’s and those didn’t exactly have a foundation so there are spaces you can crawl into underneath. And these skunks found one right smack underneath my home office.
This was a problem for two big reasons, the first is obvious; skunks stink. Period, the end, we all knew that, but the second problem was that I run my work from my house, and it’s a real business buster when all the clients can do at your house, is smell the surfeit of skunks nesting under their feet. I could not get rid of the pesky things! I set out the big, clunky traps, I laid bait, I did everything short of calling a professional (which I probably should have done, but as I said business wasn’t exactly booming for me) and I just gave up!
The worst part of this whole debacle wasn’t just the smell at my house, but the fact that when we (I have two daughters) would leave the house, IT WENT WITH US. I kid you not I went to church and someone complained that it smelled like skunk, I told her it was me but she brushed it off and closed the window, and it only got worse when it couldn’t air out! When she realized it was me she was so embarrassed she brought me a scented candle later, which was when I had had it. The great thing about having kids is that they never run out of energy. I picked out some classic rock and roll and we had ourselves a week long dance party, with the music blasted as high as it could go and the three of us jumping around, the intruders didn’t stand a chance. When I was sure they were gone I made a trip to Home Depot for some nice, thick cement and spent my day off sealing the hole.
My advice is this, although the dancing works, my ankles have never forgiven me and I HIGHLY suggest that, if you can, get a professional to take care of the issue before you have to explain to your friend that it is you that smells like an entire family of skunks.

Trapped Squirrel

Hello; I’m writing to you from the inside of my small, dark prison as a trapped squirrel. I don’t remember how I got here and I can’t tell you when, time is practically untraceable in the blackness that surrounds me, but the incident that led to my capture is clear as day, so here it goes. My brother and I found this house a couple weeks back, the neighbors were nice and it was clean so we decided to bunk here for a while, there was no sign of any other residents (or particularly dangerous predators nearby) so we didn’t think we’d be doing any harm. Occasionally, a strange beast would come in and stomp around but didn’t cause any trouble; until he saw us crawling around the attic, when that happened he let out a small roar and chased us all over, but there was no way a creature like him could catch two squirrels as quick as we; until he brought in a larger, much quicker animal that threw my brother out and proceeded to trap me INSIDE.
I wandered about for a good day or two, crawling through the stuffy walls and around the attic, searching for a way out, any way out, but the tall, naked creatures were everywhere! After my encounter with the first two I was careful of where I ventured, as to keep my whereabouts hidden to them. That was until I found myself inside the walls of the smallest human’s room, running for my life from who knows what. A booming voice had sounded from her side of the wall, one only capable by a giant surely, yelling (or singing possibly) something ‘from the other side’. I moved faster than I had ever moved before, and yet somehow it caught me and now here I am, sitting in a steel trap that has yet to prove escapable. I think the beasts are trying to torture me for I often find the walls around me heating up rapidly and making loud whirring sounds, many times these are followed by the smell of various foods. So here I sit, a lonely squirrel just waiting for whatever fate has in store for me, I’m going nuts. If you have received this message, tell my brother what happened to me and please send help.

A trapped squirrel

Bats in the Roof

Recently, I discovered bats in my roof. Here in St. George, Tuscan Roof Tiles are common, and so are the infamous winged creatures. While re-tiling my roof a few months ago, I discovered what seemed to be an infestation of small, brown bats living underneath the tiles! It was unreal the number of animals that had been nesting unbeknownst to me right above my head for who knows how long! Now I’m no wimp, but when I pulled the first tile and those little things flew at me, I screamed like a was a two-year old that had just discovered my own shadow and jumped higher than a startled cat. Of course I can tell now how foolish my reaction was, but it didn’t change the fact that I was scared of the harmless bats.
After taking a couple minutes to regain my cool, I brought my son up to see if I could get the same reaction out of him. I swear he peed his pants when they burst out, I was in tears watching him jump and squirm (I know it wasn’t the nicest thing but how could I resist?). We both decided that it would be even funnier to see how my wife would react so she was the next victim, embarrassingly she wasn’t even afraid. She let out a small squeal of excitement and quickly unveiled more, my son and I were red from our head to our toes when she scolded us for our “childish behavior”.
When the fun and games came to an end, we all knew what had to be done, we had to get these bats out of our roof, but how? It’s illegal to kill bats in Utah so we had to be careful when dealing with the small bats. The best thing we knew to do was call in someone with a better handle on the situation. A professional. He, in fact, had been in plenty of circumstances like this, of course not usually with a colony of bats like I have, it’s more often only one or two. Anyway, we ended up taking ALL the tiles off the roof and putting asphalt shingles on so that there were fewer spaces they could crawl into. Let me warn you, it’s crazy to have bats in the roof.

Raccoon Break-In

A few years back I responded to a home invasion turned raccoon break-in. I’ve worked for the Salt Lake Police Department for 10 years now, and this was definitely one of the better cases I’ve worked. During the summer of 2006, we received several calls from a woman who was hearing sounds in her basement and feared it was an intruder. We checked it out the first time but to no avail, no one was breaking into her house, of course we hadn’t considered that it wasn’t a person. A few weeks after that first call she called again, this time in hysterics that there was definitely someone in her basement and she was no longer in her home. We responded quickly, searching the perimeter first and then entering the home. There was no evidence of forced entry on any doors or windows so we proceeded quietly inside, guns and lights drawn. As we stepped into the foyer the silence was broken by the creaks on the old wood floors, and the loud sounds from the kitchen.
We slowly made our way toward the noise, only to find that the intruder had a black mask, a striped tail, and big, eyes that were fixed on us. As we put our guns away and turned on the light, the culprit was revealed, a large, angry, mother raccoon who had been stripping the cupboards of their food. We laughed at the incident and moved to shoo her from the house, but our actions were hasty and she quickly stood on her back legs and let out a growl like none I’d heard before. If you took a cougar and mixed its roar with the scratchy sound of a record player, you’d have just about what we heard. As embarrassing as it is, my partner and I were out of there faster than lightning.
Later we checked in to find that she had called in professionals to take care of the problem, turns out she had a nest in the basement with 4 kits, no wonder she was so aggressive. Besides all the food the woman had to replace, she also spent $2,200 in reparations! Even if the bandit didn’t steal anything, that was one expensive raccoon break-in.