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Location: Austin, TX, United States

Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Of Mice and Women: a Tail with a Happy Ending

It was the month before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature stirred, not even a… Wait. Stop the track. Something was indeed stirring in my house.

I recently moved into a 26 year-old Colonial with a nice big yard that backs into open space – an ideal setup for my two dogs, who finally have room to run. Ideal, that is, until I went to the finished basement a few weeks ago to bring up more boxes in need of unpacking. Mouse pellets. I told myself they were probably from a mouse long since moved away, took out the vacuum, and put it out of my mind. A few days later in the kitchen, I came face to face with a very tiny creature who seemed as alarmed to see me as I was him.

I need to clarify here that I am not scared by mice – indeed, I had a pair of mice for pets in my teens, and this little fellow looked more like Fievel than a sewer rat. No screaming ensued, but this did not mean I was willing to share my living space with him, no matter how cute he may have looked. I promptly went to the hardware store to find out my options.

The helpful gentleman at the store introduced me to various implements used for catching mice, one more torturous and brutal than the other: glue traps, poison pellets, and modern descendants of the guillotine. All of the descriptions were delivered in a matter-of-fact, business-like manner. I was horrified. While I did not want to live in the same house with him, I was not ready to play cold executioner to a helpless small animal who was only doing what mice do – trying to survive.

Disheartened and sickened, I returned home and googled the internet for alternatives. There were indeed plenty of options for humane traps which would catch my critter unharmed, and provide a live release in a field (or galaxy) far, far away.

The first one I tried was a Havahart Live Animal Trap (about $15 at Home Depot). After puzzling over the directions for some time, I finally figured out how to rig it, set my bait (peanut butter rolled in oatmeal flakes), and waited.

Next morning, the goodies were gone, the trap was sprung, and I had caught… nothing. Hmm. It turns out that my mouse was small enough to get through the bars. Just to be sure this was the case and I hadn’t somehow set the trap wrong, I tried again. This time, the trap had not even sprung – my mouse had been too light.

Plan B was a set of plastic M007 Live Mouse Traps from Victor (about $4 at Home Depot). A pair of gray plastic coffins about five inches long, they would tip like a seesaw when a mouse would go to the end to get the goodies, and the little door would trap the mouse inside.

I clomped to the basement the following morning, my excitement growing when I found both traps closed. I got into my car, drove the traps to a field about a half mile away, and opened the traps. No mice. No treats. Puzzling. After a few more nights of my visitor eluding me and laughing into his peanut butter, I still could not figure out how he was doing it. I even considered he might have an accomplice who was holding the door open for him! However my Houdini Mouse was doing it, it was clear I had to try yet another way.

Next, I tried a trap called “The Tin Cat” – a metal box with doors that close after a mouse enters ($12.99 at I think perhaps my gentle visitor did not like the metal for, in the space of three nights, he never made any attempt to get into the box to get the midnight snack to which he had grown accustomed.

By now, as you can imagine, I was starting to get desperate. I could just see my whole family, come from overseas to celebrate the holidays, gathered around Christmas dinner, when Pal Joey would make a dramatic entrance. Though momentarily entertained by the vivid visual of my mother going into hysterics, I knew I had to find something to relocate my furry friend. One last try before I would have to call the exterminator to wreak all the horrible things I had so tried to avoid.

This time, I ran into an article about a humane trap called “The Smart Mouse Trap,” the only trap endorsed by PETA. The trap’s manufacturer, Seabright Laboratories (, advertised their trap as the only one to trap the really smart ones, the ones that kept eluding every other trap. By now I was convinced I had the genius lab rats from “Mrs. Brisby and the Secret of NIMH” camping out in my basement. One of the reviewers reported catching fifty-five mice with the trap – I was sold: I only needed to catch one mouse, at most a mouse and his sidekick. It can be ordered from Abundant Earth; 2 traps for $18.95.

Two days later the trap, a little green plastic house, arrived with directions to set a saltine cracker with a dab of peanut butter at one end. The mouse would enter, the trap would shut, and the mouse would be ready for deportation. I set the trap at 8pm. An hour and a half later, I went downstairs to take a peek and, to my enormous surprise, I HAD HIM! I had caught Supermouse!

Talking to him comfortingly, I took his little house to the field, opened the trap, and away he ran! I was elated.

Just in case he had a partner in crime still loose in my basement, I reset the trap. At midnight, sure enough, Sancho Panza Mouse was also caught and taken to the same field to rejoin his friend. In the span of four hours, “The Smart Mouse Trap” had caught the nefarious twins who had outwitted me at every turn for what felt like an eternity.

It has been a few weeks now, and neither culprit has returned. As I told the bewhiskered brethren, I hope they lead long and happy mouse-lives, just not in my house. Thanks to the “Smart Mouse Trap” we all seem to have a happy ending.

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Blogger swa 246 said...

I know you didn't mean to post this as a review but a blog but this is the best and most informative thing I've read on this product. We have mice in our house and one died in my bed (eww!). It was fairly young so we checked the house over. The previouse owners of the house had left poison in the attic and once this mouse had crawled in my bed after comsuming some. we cleaned the poison because we have dogs visiting all the time and they could ingest some. I looked up humane traps on the internet because we are surounded by miles of wilderness to release the mice.

January 26, 2009 11:54 PM  

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