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Eye of Newt

Posted by Mummy Dearest on May-28-2002

A few winters ago, I picked up a piece of trivia which might be useful for animal lovers to know : you can toss a mouse out of a second floor window onto a brick stoop and it will be fine. No broken bones, no splat, just one cute lil’ fella scampering down the street as fast as his dear, wee legs will carry him. I learned this during ‘The Winter We Had Mice’. Let me add that we had lived in this house for 11 years and that was the first time that we had spotted a mouse here.

I recall that it was winter as there was a thick ( by dutch standards) layer of snow on the ground. The Father and I were reading in bed late one night when he suddenly jumped out of bed and pointed over to the fireplace . I turned to look and saw two mice running across it. Now, The Father loathes mice as much as I loathe insects and would no sooner be able to sleep in a room that had mice than I would be able to sleep in a room where Brian’s 2 Praying Mantises had gone missing. So he grabbed his pillow and went off to the attic.

The next day we discussed what we should do. Obviously, we had to de-mouse the house- either that or The Father would move back to his mother’s. Poison was out of the question, not only did we have small children but who wants a mouse carcass rotting away somewhere in the deep recesses of their house ? The traditional mouse trap was also out of the question, as I tend to be soft hearted about animals as well as the fact was that I would be the one who had to gather up the traps containing squashed mice. First thing in the morning. No way.

So The Father took off to a pet store to buy one of those doesn’t-kill-the-mouse-traps. It was actually a very nice looking contraption, made of clear brown plastic with attractive lines ( almost Scandinavian, one would think- chic, yes, sleek). It was shaped like a rectangular tunnel with a levered door on one end. The bait was placed inside, balancing on another lever. When mouse takes the bait he knocks the lever causing the door to slide shut with an audible click. The tunnel is a bit too narrow for mouse to turn around in, so there he sits until you release him. The brochure that came with the trap also said that one should check the trap regularly, as it was very stressful for the mouse to be in the trap for too long of a time.

That evening I set the trap up by the fireplace using a small cracker for bait , then went to sleep. Click, rattled- rattle and I shot out of bed. My first mouse. I flicked on the light and looked over at the trap : sure enough, there was a mouse in it. I ran downstairs with the trap, put on my coat and boots and headed out of the kitchen door, into the snow. I felt very sorry for the mouse, so I released him in our shed, saying to myself, well, there are mice in here already, what’s one more ?

Back upstairs I reset the trap – after all, we had seen two mice. About a half an hour later, I was jolted out of bed by another click-rattle-rattle. Turning on the light, I saw my second mouse caught in our trap. Once again I ran downstairs and out into the snow, to release the cute little fellow.

I ended up catching three mice that night. In fact, I would catch at least three mice every night for the next 6 weeks, with a high point being 7 a few nights ( by then, we had bought a second trap). I started keeping track of how many I caught on a calendar in the kitchen. We all placed bets on how many we would eventually catch.

The first 10 were released in our shed, then I thought, well, enough is enough and trudged through the snowy yard in the wee hours of the morning, into the alley behind our house and released them in the church yard. The charm of these late night 100 yard dashes into the snow began to wear thin very quickly, so for a few nights I tossed the mice over our wall and into the neighbors yard. Then, feeling somewhat guilty about that, I began perching on a small bench at the back of our yard and tossing them over our gate and into a parking lot.

Finally, almost all of the compassion that I felt for these rodents, my fellow creatures on this God’s good earth, had evaporated. I was tired of running out into the snow in the middle of the night, in fact, I was just tired from the broken nights. One evening, The Father and I were downstairs watching TV when we heard the trap upstairs click. Turning the sound on the TV down, we could hear the familiar rattle-rattle of a mouse scrabbling on the wall of the trap trying to get out. I went upstairs to get the trap. The bedroom windows were open, and I succumbed to the temptation- I dumped the mouse out of the window.

I then ran downstairs and opened the front door. You see, the front door is right below our bedroom window ,the same front door that the kids and I use every morning to go to school. It wouldn’t do to start the day with a stoop littered with dead mice , mice that our beloved offspring actually wanted to keep…’as pets’. There was no mouse in sight. And so, I began to dump the mice out of our bedroom window.

Later I would actually spot a few after their fall, running down the street, apparently unharmed.

I ended up catching over 200 mice that winter. They all came from a knothole in our bedroom floor and I never found traces ( aka: mouse shit) anywhere else in our house. And after that winter, we never spotted or caught another again.

Until last night when I turned on the light in our bedroom, and saw that there was a mouse on my nightstand. I dusted off my traps and thank goodness that The Father is away for a few days. As a tip from a pro, mice seem to favor shoestring potato chips .

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