Thursday, July 30, 2009

Buddhist Rodent Relocation Strategy: Updated

This one really works.

In principle, I don't mind mice all that much; in fact, they can be amusing. However, in practice, I would prefer that they be amusing elsewhere.

Lately, we have been experiencing the annual mouse infestation. They run around, annoying the rabbits, and then the rabbits start thumping to demonstrate their displeasure. It is the middle of a hot summer night, you have scurrying mice, thumping rabbits, and alcohol on the altar. In Detroit, that would be enough to start a riot.

Mice on the altar are particularly troublesome. There are usually grain offerings, the aforementioned alcohol, and butter lamps. Suppose the mouse knocks over a burning butter lamp, or topples the alcohol into the flame? There is also the issue of hantavirus to consider -- it is not unknown hereabouts -- and the fact that mice attract rattlesnakes.

We tried the "humane" mousetraps, but they don't work. We caught two or three, and then they figured out how to free themselves.

What does work is illustrated above. Caught two little stinkers last night, in short order.

You get a toilet paper roll, or paper towel roll, and dab some peanut butter in the very end. You balance this precariously on the edge of the altar, as shown. Beneath this, you place a very tall vase, and then you put some padding in the bottom of the vase. You can also put a cookie or something down there as well.

The mice run through the roll to get the peanut butter, the roll tips into the vase, the mouse lands on the padding, and there he sits, pondering fate, until you pick up the vase and relocate him elsewhere.

The experts say this should be two to five miles away. I laughed -- nay, I scoffed -- when I heard this, but it turns out to be true. I set a mouse free about a quarter mile away and he got home before I did.

Now, you can pray over the little wretches while all this is happening, and I applaud you, but I gave them a strong lecture about urban scavenging in contrast to the virtues of rural life. That, and the mani mantra six times... then it is off to Rodent Re-education and Rehabilitation Camp No. 6, to learn new ways of being.

While We're At It

Ants = cinnamon
Flies = basil, or clear plastic baggies filled with water, tacked over the door
Mosquitos = lemon eucalyptus, or geranium
Hungry Buddha-pests (with no sense of humor) =

Model 1928 Browning water-cooled .30 caliber machinegun

UPDATED: To the legion of readers who wrote in -- each doubtlessly hoping to be the first -- yes, this is only with reference to Buddhist rodents. I cannot speak to the issue of Hindu rodents, Muslim rodents, Christian rodents, Wiccan rodents, or what have you.

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12 reader comments:

Anonymous said...

We got a live trap when we were in Bodha. The best bait was supposed to be peanut butter, just like you say. They told us when you catch one you have to carry it over a river before you can let it go & that way it won't find its way back. The live trap never did work until we got it back to the U.S. where the mice were dumber. My brother in law caught 9 in one night with the same trap, which meant a lot of trips, I'll bet.

Mama Mojo said...

what are your recommendations for moths.... that's an ingenious way to trap mice. i've been wondering lately how to get them out of the walls, though.

TENPA said...

It takes political will, superior training, reliable logistics, and a strong mind... but, they can be outwitted... sometimes.

TENPA said...

Moths, huh? I've had bad luck with moths. They ate up a couple of Brioni suits -- the rack suits didn't feel right, I guess. People say cedar, and I think the trick is to activate the cedar with cedar oil. Can't prove it by experience, though.

Anonymous said...

What about a Tomahawk Cruise Missle?

TENPA said...

I'm not going to lie to you. It came up.

We let it pass because of the collateral damage issue.

Anonymous said...


hamish said...

Several years ago we renovated, and found that mice had chewed up and made holes through all the insulation, making it virtually useless, and had also chewed on the plastic coating on electrical wires, which could have, but fortunately didn't, cause an electrical fire. Mice can also die inside the walls, which makes an unbelievable stink for such a small animal. About 15 years ago I had a rat get in to the building by enlarging a hole mice were getting in. Rats are incredibly destructive and filthy, and can cause major damage to a building, especially to the wiring.

Some suggestions:
You need to carefully check the exterior of the building to find out how the mice are getting in. They can squeeze through tiny holes, smaller than a dime, and under doors with just a quarter of an inch space. These holes need to be filled with either cement, aerosol foam, steel wool (can't chew through this) or wire mesh.

Places to check:
the mortar between cinder blocks
the sill plate where the cinder block walls meet the wood frame of the house
all the places plumbing and wiring enter the building. Contractors are famous for not sealing these areas securely, which become an open door to rodents and insects
the corner edging of the vinyl siding - mice can run up these into the attic and then work their way down inside. I put steel wool inside the bottoms of all these

Please turn off the mama eye you poona nana putting kuru soha. Please. Its making me crazy..

Anonymous said...

A dear lama friend got a little overrun with mice, though she referred to them as rats, a distinction that was lost on me. Since she is more of a fierce dakini type she called the pest man. He set some of those eat the poison 'til you drop morsels. The bodies were left to me. It seemed they enjoyed dying in comfortable places judging for where I ferreted them out. I imagine there were prayers for their passing before hand but I have no comment about that part. Did I say she is sublime? So I don't question her.

Anyway I had to take care of the bodies. Taking them out to a country spot and some proper prayers.

I figured somethng needed to be done besides giving the critters a quick boot to another realm. I told her to make a little Medicine Buddha shrine on the east side of the house right down at mice eye level, and to maintain it.

Last I heard mice never came back as of a few years back but I can't confirm that today since I also got the boot. You know what I mean!

Oh there was also the cruise missle approach envoked: Kilaya.

Your mileage may vary.

TENPA said...

There is no legitimate lama on the face of this planet who will hire pest control to poison and kill living creatures. You need to get that firmly fixed in mind. If she did this, she is neither a lama, nor a dakini, nor sublime. No way, no how.

You think this is what Buddhism teaches?

I am so sorry that this happened to you, but there are things you can do at this point to get back on track.

Anonymous said...


Did you miss the irony of this true story? Parallels abound in our tradition. The story was not just about mice but about people and our tradition. Critical thinking is a good thing particularly in that dance between the sacred and the profane.

Then there are bad actors like me to consider, banging away at a drum and ringing a bell with all the right teachings and empowerments and forty years of dim witted practice who find themselves in the most extraordinary situations where that distinction between sacred and profane is blurred, sometimes by ignorance, sometimes not.

I know you are not naive, we've both been on this circuit about the same amount of time even some of the same teachers. Don't feel sorry for me Tenpa.

Longchenpa had this advice from the heart in his thirty stanzas. I am sure you are familiar with it:

In these decadent times one may reproach the crude people around one.
Although one thinks it will be useful to them,
it is just the source of poisonous thoughts.
To utter peaceful words is my advice from the heart.

So now we have lectured each other, the pot calling the kettle black. Wonderful!

all the best. I enjoy reading this blog.

TENPA said...

I believe that one day, our capacity to make excuses for doing that which we should not do will run head-on into the tree of our excuses for not doing that which we should do, and all excuses will be finally be recognized as having the same origin.