Aw Rats! The Giant Atomic Pest Control Mouse Is Leaving Memphis

photo by Vance Lauderdale

First we lost the Big Shoe, and now the Giant Mouse is moving away. The 10-foot-tall mouse that was the much-photographed symbol of the Atomic Pest Control Company on Elvis Presley Blvd. is moving out of Memphis. Company president Carese Rice has confirmed that her company is merging with Allied Termite and Pest Control, and I guess Allied doesn't need — or want — the big mouse. So Carese gave it to her brother, who will move it to his own pest control company in Georgia.

On Wednesday morning, the mouse will be removed from Atomic Pest Control's offices at 2371 Elvis Presley Blvd. A crane is supposed to arrive between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. to take it down from its rooftop perch, so if you want to see it one last time, this is your last chance.

As you might expect, I've written about this creature before. Carese, you see, is the daughter of Lester Tubbs, who founded Atomic Pest Control back in 1958. The 1,200-pound creature began life as a fiberglass promotion for the 1971 movie Willard, a charming tale about a lonely boy who befriends a pack of rats. It was showing at the old Crosstown Theatre on North Cleveland, and when Len saw the rat (or mouse), he realized he could put it to good use as an advertisement for his company after the theatre was done with it. At first, he just put it on a trailer and hauled it all over town, promoting his pest-control services, but it's been safely perched on the company's roof since 1978.

In case you're wondering, his whiskers are made of three-foot-long sections of thick wire, and that big piece of yellow cheese stands more than six feet tall. A few years ago, Carese had someone give him a fresh coat of paint, so he's always looked pretty spiffy. And quite eye-catching on the stretch of Elvis Presley Blvd.

Needless to say, he (I guess it's a he) has always attracted a lot of attention. Carese tells me that people stop by all the time to snap his picture, and he's been featured in the syndicated comic strip Zippy and even mentioned in an article by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Andrei Codrescu. One time, Carese even contacted the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records, who told her that, unfortunately, they had no official category for "world's largest mouse." Well, they certainly should, though I guess it's too late for Memphis. What a shame.

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Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

About This Blog

Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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