‘EEK!’ a mouse’ and what to do about it
November 2, 2006
You’re sitting in your living room reading a book or watching the tube. Cold outside, comfy in. All’s well with your world.
Until you see a flash of brown along the floor near a wall.
What was that? You ask. But you know it was a mouse. A little critter, maybe 2 inches long, a solid one ounce or less.
How did it get in? Mice can squeeze through the tiniest of gaps – just a quarter inch is enough for them to slip through -and make themselves scarce so days go by until you see that brown streak. Then you notice those little dark pellets around the kitchen – tiny things, but lots of them. Time to get down to business, mouse business.
You’ve got several choices. If you’re wealthy you just call an exterminator and take a weekend vacation. But most of us aren’t wealthy so we resort to do-it-yourself techniques. Depending on your sympathies, you can go for the kill or go for the trap and release. If you’re Buddhist, it’s release. (Buddhist monks are not supposed to garden because of the danger of them stepping on something alive and killing it, forbidden in Buddhism.)
So, if you’re against violence, here’s one nifty trick.
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• Retrieve a toilet paper tube from the trash. Crease it to form a flat-sided tunnel.
• Put a treat on one end of the tube: A cracker and dab of peanut butter works great. Cheese is not good, mice don’t care for it.
• Get a tall (at least 20 inches) trash can or bucket.
• Balance the tube precariously on the edge of a table or counter with the treat hanging directly over the tall-sided can.
• The mouse will scurry to the treat (they like tunnels) and fall into the trap.
Set the fella loose at least a mile away from your abode.
Okay, so that’s a little fanciful. Let’s look at tradition:
This was invented in 1895 by Hiram Maxim (who also invented the Maxim machine gun). It is a flat piece of wood with a heavily springloaded bar and a trip to release it. Bait is placed on the trip: oats, chocolate, bread or meat. Butter or peanut butter is also quite effective. (Some set out traps unset but baited for a few days so the mice lose their caution around them.)
When the mouse takes a nibble of the bait, the spring-loaded bar swings down rapidly and with great force. The design is such that the mouse’s neck or spinal cord will be broken, or its ribs or skull crushed, by the force of the bar.
Pick up the trap and go to your garbage container, lift the bar and let the mouse fall into the trash. Fini.
These are designed to catch the mouse alive and later free it (again, a mile from your home). Do this quickly as mice can die from stress, and you don’t want that. Put these traps along walls where mice like to zip along. Check them often.
All kinds of such traps are available at home and garden stores and probably at your local supermarket.
Glue strips or glue trays will trap the mouse in a sticky stuff from which the mouse can’t escape (users can free the mice from the glue by applying vegetable oil).
These types of traps are effective and non-toxic to humans. However, death is much slower than with the traditional type trap, which has prompted animal activists to oppose its use.
Another disadvantage to glue traps is that if the mouse wants to get away bad enough, it will chew through its legs to escape, usually dying from blood loss and/or shock, leaving a bloody mess behind it and a terrible odor from a dead mouse that one cannot find.
There is also a cheap way to eradicating mice. Fill a bucket with water or other liquid such as antifreeze and build a ramp up to it. Use some sort of bait to lure the mouse to the top of the container. The mouse will fall into the water and, being unable to get out, drown. The variations are many with some being single catch and some multi-catch. Some can also be used for live catch.
Strychnine-soaked grain pellets were a common substitute for mousetraps; but they are rarely used now because of the toxicity of strychnine.
So now you are armed to deal with mice. If you’re Buddhist and feel uneasy about killing a mouse, some monks have advised that if the mouse intrudes into your home, you have a right to dispatch it any way you want. After all, you were there first.
• Contact Sam Bauman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1236.