Mice move into suites, common rooms

When students moved back into their dorms this semester, they quickly became aware that their rooms had been far from deserted during break.

Students in Branford, Jonathan Edwards, Saybrook and Calhoun College have reported sightings of mice throughout the colleges since late last semester. Ian Hobbs, facilities superintendent for Branford and Jonathan Edwards, said he has received roughly eight separate complaints from the two colleges he oversees, adding that mice typically hide in dorms during the winter to escape the cold. Although some students said they welcome their rodent companions, others have expressed fear and frustration over the creatures’ steady presence.

“I was sitting on my bed, typing up a paper, when I hear a noise and turn around to see a mouse on top of the shelf next to me, touching my mattress,” Branfordian Tara Rajan ’15 said. “It ran under my bed, and for the next four days, I couldn’t sleep.”

Branford College Master Elizabeth Bradley wrote in a Jan. 13 email to students that mice had had “full run of the house” during winter break, adding that students should remain patient as the pests readjust to humans.

Catherine Harmer ’15 emailed Hobbs on Jan. 27 concerning a mouse infestation in her Jonathan Edwards dorm, and Hobbs responded the next morning and had black bait boxes installed in Harmer’s common room shortly after. But the mice have only appeared with greater frequency in the past few weeks, and Harmer’s suitemate Maya Fishbach ’15 said she has deduced that there are multiple mice residing in the dorm based on the varying colors of the mice.

Some students have developed creative solutions to combat the onslaught of pests. Tom Morley ’15, an engineering major in Calhoun, constructed a mouse trap from a Tupperware container, string and a broken plastic fork. He said he did not believe his suitemates about the mouse’s existence until he heard it rustling beside their refrigerator, so he scattered popcorn on the floor to lure the creature into his trap. Morley later released the captured mouse outside Calhoun — but not before he and his suitemates dubbed their furry friend “Mousimus,” after the character Maximus Decimus Meridius from the 2000 film Gladiator.

“He’s part of the family,” Morley said.

Jonathan Edwards College Master Penelope Laurans said students can take practical steps toward preventing mice from entering their suites, namely by keeping food in air-tight containers and calling the building supervisor as soon as pests appear.

Though Rajan said she has removed all food from her room since discovering the mouse infestation, she added that she is a vegetarian and relies on self-bought Indian food to maintain a healthy diet. Given the amount of money students pay for room and board, Rajan said, the mouse problem is only an incentive for students to move off-campus.

Apart from the discomfort they can cause, mice do not pose a substantial health risk for students, said Ronald Breaker, chair of the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Department. He pointed out that Hantavirus, one of the diseases commonly transmitted by mice, is not endemic to Connecticut.

“We have relatively safe mice,” Breaker quipped. “It’s more about the ‘ick’ factor than a concern about disease.”

Students with mice infestations can find contact information for relevant facilities staff on their colleges’ websites.

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