Sunday, December 07, 2008

Mice in England and America

Sad but true, my life seems to develop short-term themes. Last year it was plumbing. I replaced a sink and faucet at home in the U.S. and replaced some parts in a toilet in the U.K.

This year it was mice.

Before we left for England, we realized we had a mouse in the house when we witnessed one running across the top of the garage door. A brief, depressing debate about how to deal with this ensued.

It turns out that the "humane" catch-and-release traps are actually not that humane. Consider: mouse is stuck in a small box until some human comes, takes him to a place he's never been before, and releases him. Lock yourself in a closet for six hours and then go to the middle of some foreign country with no resources and see how long you'd last. At best, the mouse usually gets eaten - at worst, just dies of shock anyhow.

So, even though we concluded that "kill it quickly instead of torturing it" was a more humane method of dispatching said mouse, the first trap we came across was a catch-and-release style, so we went with it.

As did the mouse.

And the mouse chewed his way out within about six hours. Time to go to the hardware store (instead of the grocery store) and buy a real mousetrap.

Now, I was taught to be afraid of mousetraps. My family went out of their way to make sure that I didn't play with them when I ran across them. So when I was presented with two styles of trap - one traditional snap and one like a clip, I went for the clip. When you dispose of a mouse from the clip, chances are you won't have to touch the little corpse. That sounded like a better option to me.

Ha ha. I had a very quick disappointment. We baited the traps with a little cheese and the mouse investigated, but the traps snapped mouse-empty. Back to the store with us. We then picked up two traditional snap traps with a fake-cheese integrated bait and set them along with the clip traps. Voila! We got a mouse - in one of the clip traps.

So, over the course of the next week or so, I set the traps in lots of different places around the house and switched to peanut butter as bait. I dispatched several mice, and at no time did I ever suffer a bait-snatching incident. I concluded that this was the product of an overactive imagination:

Then we went to England where, one afternoon, we came face-to-face with a very alert-looking little unwelcome house guest.

Now, we knew there were mice in the house. He'd left his calling card everywhere, and in fact, when we ran across him, we had already vacuumed up a couple of nests and had been setting traps for several days.

This mouse could steal bait off a snap trap. In fact, he was really good at it. He could also steal bait out of a rocker catch-and-release trap. We didn't catch him until the last day there - using a clip-style trap (which he had managed to set off without incident a couple of times already) which had come pre-baited with - you got it - peanut butter.

Eight days of being outwitted by ONE mouse ... English mice would seem to be smarter than American mice. Just sayin'.

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Anonymous Bobbi said...

Ahh, but the best way to catch a mouse is with peanut butter, not cheese. And speading that gooey stuff on the bait portion means they can't get to it without actually getting on the trap.

December 14, 2008 9:26 AM  

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