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Home of World’s Most Famous Mouse Invaded by Rodents

July 18, 1992

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (AP) _ Orange County, home of world-famous Mickey Mouse, is being overrun by less loved mice in what experts call the worst infestation in a decade.

″I thought the stories were exaggerated, but then I checked into it. They’re coming into people’s homes, literally by the hundreds,″ said Dan Fox, president of Animal Pest Management Services Inc. in Chino.

Fifteen miles south of Disneyland, new tract homes in the affluent communities of San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niguel have been overwhelmed by thousands, perhaps millions, of rodents.

″They are just conquering us,″ said Jeannie Fuller, a sales coordinator for Mission Pest Control in south Orange County.

″One lady said she caught 30 in jars today. They were too small to trigger the traps,″ said David Perez, a clerk at Ace Hardware in San Clemente. ″One lady said they’re running all over her carpets. One said they were in her baby’s crib. I’m telling you, it’s crazy.″

San Clemente city leaders confessed that they were no Pied Pipers when residents demanded action last week. ″I’ve caught two dozen in my own home in the last two weeks,″ said City Manager Mike Parness.

The most likely reason for the proliferation of rodents is the abundant food supply after this year’s drought-busting rains set the foothills flush with fields of new shoots and seeds for the first time in five years.

Now that the food supply has dried up in the summer heat, hordes of young rodents are rushing into houses for meals.

The best advice for homeowners: Sit back and let nature take its course. The mouse life-cycle is one year, so the rodents will retreat by autumn, said Fox and Mike Chapman, an entomologist for Western Exterminators.

Otherwise, they said, homeowners can best cope by sealing windows, weatherstripping doors and vents, buying snap traps and glue boards, hiring exterminators or buying cats.

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