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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cold-blooded killer

We have mice. The uninvited, unwanted, un-pet-type. Lots of them.

We started with a few traditional traps and killed a handful right off. Then we felt too cruel and switched to a more "humane" catch-and-release model. We caught a LOT of mice...released them...and caught more. Or maybe we were just giving the same handful a nice snack every evening, topped by a quick field trip to the great outdoors, where they'd be challenged to make it back in time for the next evening's snack, who knows. We relocated probably 40 or so in this manner before one finally chewed through the plastic on the humane trap and we decided that enough was enough and started killing them again.

What else can we do? Little so-and-sos are pooping in the silverware drawer (shudder).

Of course, they're learning. We've had a number of mornings where we wake to find the trap picked clean and yet, it remains unsprung. How do they do that? I can't even manage to set the doggone thing without snapping my fingers. I guess weighing an ounce has its advantages.

Tonight...well, tonight I had my own private torment. We were watching TV and heard the snap. About an hour later, I finally came out to the kitchen to get rid of the little corpse. I slid open the drawer (empty of silverware at this point in the game, by the way) and found a LIVE mouse, with the bar pinning him not at the base of his skull--oh no!--but at his pelvis. My hated nemesis had now become a Helpless Creature Of God who had been lying there all of this time, partially paralyzed and, presumably, in pain.


Now, I am no fan of the drawer-pooping menace. But I am a big softie. And it has gotten far worse since I've become a mother. I can't NOT want to comfort things in distress. And here I had a mortally wounded mouse. So you know the decision that had to be made. Let it suffer? Or end it as quickly as possible?

I should also mention that I've lately been shooting off my mouth to my Dear Husband about how his brother's farm is overrun with chickens and how they should use them for eating instead of just egg production (kinda) and pets (mostly)...scoffing at their emotional attachment and declaring that I would go out there and do the slaughtering myself. So here I was, with egg on my face (and yet, still--poop in my kitchen drawer. Have I mentioned the poop?) and a dying mouse in my hand, determined to suck it up and do What Needed To Be Done.

I figured stomping its little head would effect the quickest and least cruel demise.

Which it probably would have if I hadn't been so freaking squeamish about splattering mouse brains on my shoes.

I thought nothing could make me feel sicker than the soft crunching sound of his bones under my foot. But then I raised my foot and saw...labored breathing.


So I had to crunch him again. Then his little legs wiggled. And I had to crunch him again.

And now I feel like crying.

Of course, I still want my silverware drawer back. But I think I reminded myself of just how tough I'm not, when it comes to that old circle of life.


  1. Heaz, how awful awful awful! I know that creepy feeling so well, of torturing an innocent creature. We used one of those evil sticky traps once and still live with the echo of that poor frightened squeaking, screaming itty bitty baby. We didn't know it would be like that. You have captured the whole experience so well, and timely too: we have mice also. I am going to print out this post for my kiddos to read.

  2. I just posted this on residentmuse's site and figured it belonged here as well.

    * * * * *

    Update on my mouse saga! We went back to the catch-and-release traps and this time opted to imprison–er, “house”–the detainees, with plans for a future long-distance relocation. We caught one on Monday night, who has been living in a glass tank and delighting the babies to no end. (Her name is Marcy, or Donkey, or Paco, depending on who you ask.) No other trap activity until–surprise!!–one sentence into typing this very post, I heard the telltale rattle of *someone* finding themselves caught.

    It’s a paradigm shift, really. Now they are “pets”…we just have to convince them that they prefer captivity to a life of freedom and drawer-pooping.

  3. Heaz, you write so wonderfully and captured this experience perfectly. I was right there with you shuddering at the drawers full of mouse poop and shivering at the job that had to be done. And I'm glad to see that you've gone back to the catch and release. Although I suppose you know not to release them on someone else's property... or in a cemetery ;)