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Monday, November 10, 2008

There's a Mouse in the House

'Tis that time of year, and there are mice in the kitchen again.

I open the drawer to find the evidence: the corner of a new bag of brown sugar gnawed through, little black specks, you know. It's always a pain to deal with this. I pull out all of the silverware, the knives and all of the cooking utensils, the waffle iron, the coffee maker, the air popper for popcorn. Then I change my clothes into whites and bleach everything, wiping off the shelves and the counters and the walls so that the fumes are thick and acrid. Everything that tolerates it goes into the dishwasher. We live with a silverware tray on the counter for a week, and it drives me crazy because the kitchen is torn up and hard to work in.

There are at least three general kinds of non-feline mouse-elimination devices: poison, glue traps, and snap traps. Each has its advantages and drawbacks. I don't do poison because it takes awhile -- the poison is coumadin, I think, and this causes uncontrolled bleeding. If the mouse dies in the walls you're stuck with a bad smell (ever pragmatic am I). So I'm left with traps.

Traps need a dab of peanut butter to entice the mouse to approach. The glue traps are definitely easier to set: you simply put them down. However, I've been less than happy with the results. The peanut butter is usually licked clean, but that's about it. Sometimes the glue trap has been pulled into the area behind the drawer (where the heating pipes run -- don't ask). I can't remember ever actually catching a mouse, but imagine if the trap does, it's pretty unpleasant for the mouse -- he will die through a long, painful process of dehydration.

The snap traps, on the other hand, are quite intimidating to set. I just have one hint for these: DON'T PUT YOUR FINGERS ANYWHERE NEAR WHERE THE TRAP WILL SPRING. Trust me on this one. To set the trap, you pull a strong spring back and secure it with a bar that purposely barely holds -- when anything touches the trap, the bar comes loose. The spring often snaps as you're setting it, and it's startling and scary.

These traps are like life, aren't they? Often we face at least two solutions to a problem: one solution will be easier to do, the other is intimidating in its radical nature. However, the gentler solution may not work, and if it does, it may take a long and painful process to actually complete its job. The intimidating solution, on the other hand, while tricky to implement, sure works when it IS set correctly. I always use the snap traps, despite their scariness. The mouse is dead quickly without suffering. Overall, the radical solution seems to be the best choice.

Think about these mousetraps the next time you must figure out how best to solve a problem. This analogy doesn't work for every situation, obviously, but maybe it fits for more situations than we might have courage to implement.



Rosslyn Elliott said...

I love this post! It's worth considering that sometimes it may be worth getting a cat. :-) Whatever that means on a symbolic level.

Anonymous said...

If you can identify the area where they are getting in (and it can be small - those little "rats" are quite agile!), you can try blocking their entrance by stuffing it with steel wool. Mice will not gnaw through this for some reason. It is what has kept mice out of Barry and my kitchen and basement for about the past six years...and I've never had to change it out or deal with dead carcasses. (::shudder::)

Avily Jerome said...

Interesting way to relate that to life!

I hate mice. We had them a couple of times- maybe we have more, hiding in my roommate's room, but haven't seen evidence in the house for awhile.

We've used both the glue and the snappers. The glue has worked, and the mice have also escaped. Hit-or-miss, I guess.

I would love to just get a cat, but my hubby claims to be allergic. :)

So I, too, settle for the intimidating snappers.

I'm getting better about going for the snapper kind when it comes to life. Dealing with conflict when it comes up rather than letting the mice nest. It's a work in progress. :)