Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Eight captured, two killed.

After catching mouse number eight in the live traps, the mice learned a new trick: how to steal from the traps. In all our use this year and last, no mouse had ever stolen the bait from a live trap! I'd bait them, and sometimes they were tripped accidentally, but they always had either bait or a mouse in them. I thought it was a fluke at first, but I kept finding unbaited traps.

Last night I saw two mice hiding in the stove, and I'd had enough pussyfooting around with the live traps. I went to the hardware store for some old fashioned neck breakers. The death traps we used last year were left outside and rusted. Now they're lost under the snow.

Standing in the aisle at the hardware store, I marveled at the dazzling array of mouse control devices. The more you paid, the more humanity you got. You could buy a trap that electrocutes the mice. You could buy something that makes a high pitched sound to drive the mice away. These were the most expensive. The cheapest traps were the ones I came for: blunt force trauma, intended to kill without being guaranteed. A step up from those were killer traps that were covered so you didn't have to see or deal with the maimed mouse directly.

As I gawked at the assembled counter-mouse techniques, a cat walked past. The hardware store had a cat, and it was on patrol near the weapons of mouse destruction. It was surreal.

I set the death traps in a couple of strategic places in the kitchen. In a couple of days we had two dead mice. I can't tell if they were the same two mice I'd seen marauding about. I wondered whether they worked together to steal from the humane live traps, and I considered the neck breakers a lesson: smart mice will be dealt with harshly. Think of it as evolution in action; in this house, we select against the mice who can figure out how to avoid being safely relocated.
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