Monday, October 18, 2010

Some creatures are stirring

“Have a nice life,” I said, turning the humane trap upside down and dumping its confused occupant into the grass. The mouse looked a lot like a prisoner seeing sunlight for the first time in quite a while, because it was. I was hoping he’d make more of a show of appreciation, perhaps scampering towards the woods and turning back to wave goodbye, wiping a single tear and giving me a look that conveyed just how much he understood that a traditional snap-your-back trap would have cost three bucks less.

But we didn’t have time for a drawn-out goodbye, since I had to get into the office, and he had to get on with living somewhere other than my garage.

Our mouse relocation program began a couple of weeks ago, after an unfortunate spell of apparent rodent suicides in our garage. I don’t know how familiar you are with the aroma of dead mouse, but I’d be very surprised to see that scent at Yankee Candle anytime soon.

“I think they’re dying in the walls,” my wife Kara said. “We need to get one of those cameras on the end of a hose so that we can shove it back there and see what’s going on.”

“I really don’t see how giving our garage a colonoscopy is going to help anything,” I replied.

“I bet we could rent one of those cameras,” she said.

That night, I set out the humane mouse trap, hoping to avoid unnecessary and costly medical procedures on our drywall.

When we bought the humane trap, I was horrified to see that glue traps are still being sold, the sticky squares that trap the mouse until it can think of an inventive way to die, probably days later.

You might not like Jehovah’s Witnesses coming to your door, but you don’t throw a giant sticky welcome mat on the front porch.

“Hey, Earl, what’s that commotion out front?”

“Oh, don’t worry about them. They’ll get free just as soon as they figure out which parts they need to gnaw off.”

It’s clear that Kara and I wouldn’t be making much progress if we didn’t employ some sort of trap, though. When I came back from a walk yesterday, Kara was brandishing an umbrella.

“I think there’s a mouse in the pantry,” she said.

“What are you doing? Singing a duet with it?” I asked.

“I was going to herd it,” she replied. She would have had to herd it pretty far; I’ve read that if you don’t drop a mouse off at least a mile from your house, it’ll come right back. That’s why homing mice used to be so prevalent, before pigeons were invented.

So I’ve been taking our furry guests to work with me, dropping them off near an inviting clearing with woods in the back, where they can soak in the sunshine, start a new life and frolic about with several different species of raptor.

The irony is not lost on me that I’m going out of my way to keep these tiny animals alive, then going out and ordering a quarter-pound burger for lunch. The problem with being an animal lover is that it’s so easy to love animals in both their cuddly and flame-broiled forms.

But now that our mice have forced me to think a little harder about my priorities,

I’m realizing that as I get older, I’ m becoming less and less comfortable with the idea of having animals killed so that I can eat them. Which is why I’ve decided, after careful thought and consideration, to become a big fat hypocrite.

Oh, did you think I was going to say a vegetarian? Please. I’ve tried tofu.

You can catch and release Mike Todd at

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