Of Mice and Boys

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, or catch a mouse

In the latest tale of mice and men, the score could be construed as mouse 0, man 1. However that wouldn’t tell of the sad fall from grace of my partner, Steve, nor would it describe my search for a better mousetrap.

I should start at the beginning, when my son yelled out to my mice-slayer in shining armour: “You killed nature!” We’d tried to get inside before they did to check the trap, but both children wouldn’t let up until we told them what was in the bucket.

Unfortunately, the answer was one small, cute, drowned mouse.

Andrew ran away from us, tears streaming down his face. “How could you? You didn’t have to kill nature!”

I’m feeling horrible for my six-year-old, and this, one of his first encounters with mortality, but at the same time, I worry that perhaps we all live too sheltered a life now. They don’t have to slaughter dinner, or pluck a chicken. Our meat is so nicely packed in the store.

Granted, we didn’t kill the mouse for meat, or fur, or any other productive reason. We wanted it dead because we didn’t want it’s diseases or feces.

(Did you know that mice have no bladders, so they leave a continual trail of acrid urine wherever they go?)

I went outside to where Andrew was sitting, and tried to explain to him that normally we wouldn’t kill “nature” and that if “nature” had stayed there, we wouldn’t have had a problem. Same goes for spiders: I don’t kill them outdoors, only in my house. (Please don’t preach to me about killing mice if you are not a vegetarian, or if you have ever killed a spider or mosquito.)

I also tried to explain to Andrew that mice pee and poo everywhere and they’d shred our furniture for a nest. All I got back was: “But you didn’t have to kill him! Why didn’t you just catch him and take him outside?”

Andrew had a point. In an ideal world, we could trap the mouse, and release him, but as when you catch and release a fish, you often catch the same fish within the hour. Mice come right back too. They now know the way in, and their scent trail of urine beckons their little whiskered friends to the party with better directions than a GPS.

Eventually I got Andrew back inside, and started showing him the mouse feces in way too many places. I explained that mice can carry and spread a number of diseases. He and his sister Audrey concluded quickly that mice might also want to chew their favourite stuffed animals, so within 10 minutes, Andrew asked if we could go to the store to get a trap. They even apologized to Steve for calling him a “nature killer.”

Audrey was opposed to drowning any more mice, so I told her about the spring traps that would kill the mouse in one quick snap. I bought one of them and we baited it with peanut butter. I checked the trap 10 minutes later and the mouse had licked the trap clean: I hadn’t balanced it properly.

Mouse 1, Nadine 0. The next morning, I’d reversed that score.

After all this, I decided to ask my friends on Facebook for a better mouse trap.

One said get a cat, but most cats are too well fed to bother with mice most of the time, and I never enjoyed them bringing me headless rodents as a present.

One said don’t leave out food that tempts them.

One said buy coyote urine and spread it around, but I worried it might attract coyotes.

One offered the same type of trap we’d used minus the water in the bucket. In this method, you drill a hole in the bottom of a pop can and feed a wire through it. Lay the wire across a bucket. Put peanut butter on the outside of the pop can. Put a ramp (such as a two-by-four) up to the lip of the bucket. Unless the mouse is a champion log roller, the mouse ends up in the bucket. Just remember that mice can jump 30 centimetres, so make it a deep bucket.

My mouse trap research led to way too many Internet searches, past single mouse traps, multi-mouse traps, ones that are reusable or not, methods that are safe around kids and pets (not poison or spring traps), contraptions endorsed by humane societies, or not, … leading to the inevitable trap versus dispatch decision.

I am still undecided on my next move in the war against my cheese-loving friends. But what I do know is that you’ll never see me trying to crush a mouse with the butt end of a rifle, whether I think it is loaded or not.

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