When Benchley the cat joined our household, we soon realized he was a good mouser. He brings us birds, moles, mice---and it is a little sad that we don't appreciate him more for it. He would have made someone SUCH a good barn cat. We've discussed how we didn't want to hurt his feelings by rebuking him in any way when he thinks he is being SO good---but that on the other hand we wished he would, er, STOP.
That was before we realized the mice were COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE. Well, or else Benchley brought some in and didn't sufficiently kill them, and THAT is the reason we now have a thriving mouse metropolis. But if they were here already and he's been doing his little cat job by killing them for us, that changes my whole point of view on the issue.
I first noticed mouse droppings and little tufts of mouse fur in the oven drawer. Then in the laundry room, on the windowsill over the washer and dryer. Then I went to get a bag of chocolate chips from the shelves in the basement, and it had been gnawed open, and fully a third of the bag was gone, and I was PRETTY SURE I would have used scissors if it had been me.
So. Getting rid of the mice. The thing is, I know there are various virus/germ/dirt/wiring/takeover reasons that mice should not be living in our house, but mice don't horrify me OF THEMSELVES (though you can bet I'd be screaming and leaping back if one SKITTERED OUT when I didn't expect it). I would, in fact, like to have mice as pets, for our next Household Pet Acquisition. So I briefly looked into the idea of capturing some of the mice we apparently ALREADY HAD, and putting them in a cage---but as you may have instantly intuited, this is not a good idea. Wild mice are not the same as mice that have been bred to the cage life.
I started with this 12-pack of Mice Cube no-kill mouse traps. I could just return the mice to the outdoors! We have several wild areas of the yard where they could live peacefully! This plan would be a total fail, of course, if there was an undiscovered place where the mice were coming into our house (I'm picturing a Family-Circle-style cartoon where Swistle is lovingly freeing a series of mice into the yard, each of which follows a dotted path right back into the house), but would work pretty well if our mouse population was the result of Benchley sparing the lives of two captured mice who subsequently found love in the oven drawer.
I put out just three traps to start with: one in the oven drawer, one in a gap under the cupboards the cats have been keeping a very close eye on, and one in the laundry room. The next day, the bait was missing from a trap, but no mouse was in the trap. Another trap, the one from the laundry room, had been tipped off the windowsill, and contained neither mouse nor bait. The third trap had a mouse in it. A terrified, quivering, ADORABLE SOFT LITTLE mouse.
I prepared to release it into the wild, and this is where I ran into the part of my plan I should have thought of already: it is WINTER outside. There is SNOW on the ground. Tossing a mouse into that snow would be the same as killing it with a mouse trap, except it would take longer and the mouse would suffer more and we'd end up with a carcass in the yard---or possibly a carcass brought back into the house by a cat.
I took the mouse back inside to think further about this. And the result of all that thinking was, I gently turned the trap upside down (which allows the door to open), and I put it back in the oven drawer, and I closed the oven drawer. My thought process was this: I have not ADDED anything to our mouse population; I have merely canceled one poorly-thought-out transaction and given myself time to think things through with the new information about what season it is right now.
The problem was, I still didn't really want to kill the mice. And yet, they are eating our pantry supplies and/or possibly spreading disease, and that can't be allowed to continue. And yet, it is going to be winter for quite some time.
So. My second purchase was of the Victor M2524 electric mouse trap. It kills the mice with a quick electric shock. It claims to meet "International Humane Kill" standards, which was comforting even though I've never heard of such a thing and have no idea what those standards are. For all I know, the standards are "Anything it takes to get rid of the little suckers HAR HAR HAR!" But it SOUNDS good: electric shock is one of the two ways we execute PEOPLE, and I couldn't find little mouse-sized lethal-injection needles. More important to me is that it doesn't use poison and it doesn't snap.
I set the trap before bed, and in the morning the green light was blinking---meaning it had caught a mouse. I removed the mouse and re-set the trap. In the evening I checked the trap again, and the light was blinking again. I removed the mouse and re-set the trap. This morning I checked the trap again, and the light was blinking again. I removed the mouse and re-set the trap---and ordered a second trap so I can put one in a second location.
The trap is EXPENSIVE ($20) and the reviews are mixed, and if you try one I highly recommend reading the very helpful review by CF, which has a lot of troubleshooting stuff. It's not that it's a complicated trap (you put batteries in, you put a smudge of peanut butter in, you flip the switch on), but there are a few things it would be easy to do wrong (like putting in too large a portion of peanut butter) that the instructions don't give you any idea about.
In short: I like both kinds of traps, but I'll use the no-kill traps when it's nice outside, and the electric shock one when it's not---or if the mice keep coming back in.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...