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A Better Mousetrap or Rodent Cruelty?
It is without doubt a better mousetrap.
‘Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door’
– Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
Not only can it be set up without any danger of losing a finger, it actually kills mice, and I don’t give a hoot whether they are killed painlessly or not. It certainly kills them attractively and they are shuffled off in style, with tasteful collars around their necks. I don’t think there is such a thing as rodent cruelty, but my granddaughter disagrees with me.
We live in the countryside, with the result that we have mice. There are two times in the year when the mouse commute becomes an intolerable flood – during the hottest summer months and during the lead up to winter. Mice don’t like suffocating heat nor freezing cold any more than we do; we’ve reached the ‘freezing cold’ months, and the first trickle of rodent refugees are arriving. When the snow starts falling in earnest, the first tentative trickle turns into an assault on the beaches; occasionally, rats or voles slip in unnoticed, but these pests require a different eradication process.
So far this year the only gnawing rodents are mice, and their presence is easily identifiable by their droppings and by the holes nibbled in plastic, paper or fabric as they line their nests for the winter. It is essential to rid the house of mice as soon as possible, as the next thing they could start nibbling is electric cable; this will shock the mice to death but it might also burn your house down.
Over the years we have tried many ways of killing the little varmints off. The general purpose mouse trap works up to a point, but at the danger of fingertips. The problem with general purpose traps is the senior citizen mice. The mice that have survived the generic trap, are becoming better and better at passing on their knowledge. You can imagine the grandpa mouse in its rocking chair, rocking back and forward, propelled by its long sinewy tail. The infant mice sitting adoringly at his paws as he expounds the wisdom of his experience, between puffs at his pipe. ‘If the cheese wasn’t there the previous day, and you think this opportunity is too good to be true – it usually is,’ he will expound. ‘Use your head, not your nose.’
A finger chopping mousetrap
A mousetrap that works by sound
The Sound System
Because of this point of view, we tried a different system – a sound system. It is the same size as an electric plug, and once you’ve plugged it in, it emits a high pitched noise that is supposed to frighten off mice. The only problem with this system is that it only emits in a straight line; if there is furniture around the plug point you’d have been as well to save your cash. True, it can reflect off other surfaces but it is a pernickety system.
(Being senior citizens with ‘elder’ hearing, the high pitched noise doesn’t trouble us, but we do have to unplug the frighteners when we have visitors. The visitors, being polite, don’t mention the noise, but we kind of suspect they hear a noise when we see them wincing and stuffing their fingers in their ears.) What we do hear during visits is the sniggering of many rodents as they launch more assault craft.
So, it was this sniggering ringing in my ears that I went out to Home Hardware to get another type of mouse trap; a mouse trap that no rodent would sneer at more than once – the last time.
The Garrotting Mousetrap
An Eviction Notice?
And when I saw this new type of trap in Home Hardware, I just had to try it. It promised no more circumcised fingers, and with any luck, senior mouse instructor hadn’t kept up with progress, and was still talking of the good old days.
The trap is made by Nooski, a firm I’d never heard off, and when I first saw the label I thought it said ‘no ski,’ which would fit in with Canadian winter, but on closer inspection I realised I’d made a mistake (the same type of mistake I made when I first saw ‘RUB A35.’ You have to admit it was an easy mistake to make.) The packaging promised, ‘A Better Mouse Trap.’ Being of a cynical nature, I picked up the package and said, “Yeah, right!” The instructions on the packaging seemed to imply that the mouse was throttled by a small rubber ring. This I had to see; I bought it and took it home.
The most difficult part of the trap was opening the package, but at least it did open without me screaming at it and attacking it with a meat cleaver. I logged on to noosevideo and followed the directions on the video. It was surprisingly easy, although I did set it up apprehensively; ready to extricate fingers in an instant. The first time I tried it, I didn’t hold the trigger and the trap misfired, but it didn’t hurt me at all. The second time I set it and placed it in the cupboard under the stairs where the pesky rodent was settling in, without bothering to ask the rental fee. As I did so, I quoted the package promise aloud.
“Lethal Every Time, Mr Squatter, and in case you aren’t bilingual, I’ll repeat it in French; ‘fonctionne á tous les coups.’ If I don’t see you tomorrow morning, rest in peace.”
The next morning was disappointing. I hadn’t heard the trap going off through the night, and when I opened the cupboard door, there was no sign of a dead mouse. I was about to close the door when my wife looked over my shoulder and asked, “Where did that piece of string come from?” She moved forward, bent over to pick up the string, and was within a few inches of it when she screamed, bolted upright, hit here head on the lintel and shouted ‘It’s a mouse! It’s a mouse!”
I winced at the visibly rising bump on her head, but still couldn’t see the mouse. “Is it beside the string?” I asked.
“It IS the string,” she sobbed from the washroom where she was downing two painkillers. “That’s the mouse's tail.”
And so it was. I almost said – ‘and thereby hangs a tale,’ but decided in time that I much preferred breathing to being beaten to death by a concussed wife. I couldn’t understand why the mouse was so far from the trap and decided I’d better read the instructions again.
The instructions did say that the mouse ‘dies next to the trap with no mess.’ Usually the mouse is caught in the trap, causing various body fluids to be ejected, necessitating a clean-up-crew, i.e, me. It didn’t make any sense….…..oh crap; of course I hadn’t heard the trap – it didn’t make a noise. What it did was strangle the mouse with the bilious green band. The only noise I might have heard was a garrotted mouse choking to death and scrabbling to get the rubber collar off its neck. As it panicked and gurgled its last breath, it would be trying to get away from its killer, hence the distance.
Yeuch! Don’t go there. All I wanted was a dead mouse, and I had one.
Cruelty to Mice
Before I had a chance to dispose of the departed pest, our granddaughters came over to visit, and the mouse with its bilious green collar, had to be shown off and the mouse trap explained. As I was explaining the workings of the trap, the 7 year old nodded in immediate understanding; she gave me the long, disgusted look - the one with the curled up lip.
“It must have taken ages for the poor mouse to die; you’re cruel Grandpa.” She turned away, shaking her head. I wondered if she knew how much she resembled her Granny
Her 4 year old sister, who’d come up unnoticed, put in her three ha’pence worth,
“Do the rings come in different colours? That shade doesn’t match the mouse’s fur.” Now that’s what I like – a practical point of view.
So, before the newly beaten path to your door becomes a super highway, Nooski, our granddaughters have two suggestions.
1. Make sure the garrotte is so powerful that it kills on the spot. (I need to maintain my Grandpa credibility.)
2. Find other colours for the rings. As the 4 year old pointed out later, “I would
have to check on the colour of the mouse before planning the trap, so that
I would have the right colour of collar."
p.s. Do the rings come in tartan?
Today, if you build a better mousetrap, the government comes along with a better mouse….Ronald Reagan. (1911-2004)