A true story – about me, Oktay and a mouse!
Eeek! There’s a mouse in the house! Add this to the list of things I never thought I’d have to deal with when I started my new life in Turkey!
To set some context, it’s important to know that I live on a boat in the Mediterranean. Not only is it my home, it’s also my place of business. My partner (Oktay) and I host private charters in Turkey and Greece aboard the boat. It’s set up like a boutique hotel – 4 guest cabins, each with private bathroom facilities, a kitchen where our chef prepares meals, a bar, indoor and outdoor dining areas, and lots of places for our guests to lounge and enjoy the Med.
So our story begins…
About two weeks ago, after returning from a cruise in the Göcek islands region of Turkey, I thought I heard some rustling in one of the kitchen cabinets while I was drifting off to sleep. I reported my suspicions that a mouse may have boarded the boat during our cruise to Oktay in the morning, but he assured me that I was imagining things.
I heard the noises again two nights later, with the same results.
Now, you may be asking yourself, why don’t I investigate the noises myself? Well, quite simply, because I am a coward, and mice scare me. I used to live on a farm in rural Alberta, alone, and was forced to deal with mouse issues when they presented themselves. “Dealing with it” involved much shrieking, broom waving, then sending a cat or dog to dispatch the offending critter. Now, I live on a boat on the Turquoise Coast of Turkey, with a partner, and have no qualms assigning him responsibility for rodent control. (I do the laundry and cleaning, which he calls “woman’s work”. Applying the same logic, heavy lifting, boat repairs and boat maintenance (including finding and killing mice) falls squarely into the domain of “man’s work”.)
Sometimes, there are funny, but very benign, noises on the boat. I let it go.
Fast forward a day or two…
Oktay notices some ‘evidence’ of rodent activity in one of the guest bathrooms – a partially chewed up roll of toilet paper and rodent poop in the cupboard under the sink.
He excitedly calls to me, finally believing my suspicions of an unwanted critter. After assuring me that the mouse is not in residence under the sink, I cautiously approach the cabinet and took a look. Good God – those aren’t mouse turds – they’re practically the size of pony poop! We don’t have a mouse, we have a frigging rat! And suddenly, we find rat crap and chewed up “stuff” everywhere we look. Under the kitchen sink. In the storage area under our bed. In the under-bench storage areas where we keep our extra linens and crew uniforms. In the engine room. The damned rat (or, more likely, rats) has invaded the boat!
Fortunately, we are between tours and, for the first time ever, I am glad that terrorism has temporarily decimated the tourism industry in Turkey so I don’t need to deal with passengers and pests at the same time.
Oktay phones his uncle, who lives on a farm, for advice about dealing with vermin. I hit the internet, googling the availability of various rodenticides in Turkey. Armed with lists of poisons, we visit the garden shop and pharmacy and stock up on the most toxic stuff we can legally get our hands on. We buy green putty-like blobs, little blue blocks, and beige pellets. Each container is marked as “extra strength”, and we are assured by their respective vendors that “this is best”.
Back at the boat, Oktay dons gloves, and carefully spreads small piles of poison in the areas the rat has frequented. We are acutely aware that it would not be good for business to poison a guest, so carefully track the amount and location of each “poison pile”.
As soon as Oktay’s finished laying out the final pile of poison, we check back on spot #1 (under the kitchen sink). All gone – the bait has vanished. So he lays out some more. We check the piles again, and replenish as required. Back to spot #1. All gone AGAIN. Plus, in the space of about an hour, the critter has eaten the rim of the plastic container holding the poison, a sizable part of our wooden spatula, the corner of a scrubby sponge, and the sink’s plastic drain pipe!
“Maybe he’s thirsty,” suggests Oktay, as we mop up the puddle of water leaking from the chewed-through tubing. So we crush up some of the beige pellets and dissolve them in a metal frying pan filled with water, and leave that under the kitchen sink. Oktay continues checking the poison piles, I start washing absolutely everything that the vile creature(s) may have come in contact with. We normally keep a very clean boat but absolutely everything gets re-washed – with detergent AND bleach.
Remember I said that we run a hotel-like business on the boat? That means we have a lot of bed and bath linens, allowing us to change beds during and between cruises. I wash, dry and iron 30 sets of bed linens, 50 sets of bath linens, 15 linen table cloths and 100 cloth napkins. Oktay scrubs floors, cabinets and cupboards in all of the cabins, the engine room and all the common areas on the boat. Our chef washes and disinfects all of the pots, pans, dishes and cutlery. And throughout the process, we replenish poison as necessary.
Fast forward a few more days…
I’m happy to report that we’ve successfully eliminated our uninvited visitors from the boat. We’ve had 3 days of “all clear” – no actual mouse sightings, nothing chewed, no droppings, and all of the poison piles have been untouched. We removed all the poison this morning, will give the boat a final inspection this evening, and look forward to welcoming our next group of “real” passengers tomorrow morning.
In three years, we’ve never had a problem with uninvited “visitors” on the boat. No rodents, no bugs, no reptiles. Touch wood, it will never happen again. (We installed rat rings to minimize the chances of rodents hoping on board again!)
And, as a bonus, Oktay will probably believe me the next time I hear things go bump in the night…
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