the errant trap


It’s been a few weeks since we attempted to clean the living room, so Joe and I gave it another shot. I use the term “clean” loosely, because I’m talking about removing enough crap to make a walkable path, not dusting and vacuuming.

Most of that crap belongs in the garage. The garage, unfortunately, is full of crap from the shed. And the shed, we discovered, is also full of crap. Mouse crap.

Since our last mouse encounter in June, we’d been setting and checking traps regularly, and made one kill so far. Then a few weeks ago, Joe reported that a trap had disappeared. We looked everywhere and couldn’t find it. About a week later, another one was gone.

We were stumped. No traps, and no bodies. Not even a tiny blood trail. How big, we wondered, would the rodent have to be that could sustain two non-humanitarian mousetraps and survive?

In my excitement to make my living room walkable, these recent events slipped my mind. Until I found one of the traps. The force of the spring must have propelled it backward off the shelf and onto the floor, behind a spare tire. Joe launched into CSI mode, donning gloves and grabbing a flashlight to show me the blood on the trap. And the search for the body was on.

As we emptied the shed, we uncovered telltale signs of the whiskered debauchery that had taken place for the past four months right under our noses. They’d chewed holes in bags of garden soil and through boxes, and of course, they crapped absolutely everywhere.

Worse, as we withdrew more gnawed, nested-in, and pee-reeking items, Joe discovered among them, to his complete outrage, his former hockey pads and $500 skates. The mice had used the latter as twin latrines. I may have smelled something worse in my lifetime, but I can’t say what.

Joe’s a packrat, so by default it was mostly his things that were destroyed, and he was out for blood. And while I don’t blame him, I couldn’t help but think of the tiny, furry lives that played out in our backyard, day by day, just as ours had played out a hundred or so yards away.

We deduced, for example, that at some point one mouse must have fallen from a rafter into an open air conditioner box, only to discover his only means of escape was to gnaw through the cardboard to freedom. This kind of detail is far too intimate to know about a creature you want to kill—or may already have snuffed—and it made me feel like the villian in a Disney movie.

My moral compromise was this: We left two baited traps inside the shed—fair’s fair, and mice do not pay or even contribute toward my mortgage. But the next day when I discovered Boo toying with a field mouse, I slammed a bucket over it, had Joe transfer it to a glass jar, and released it in a nearby park.

Live and let live. As long as you do it outside my shed.



2 responses to “the errant trap

  1. Wow, that really sucks. I’ve been lucky so far in that our two cats seem to have kept the mice at bay. Though I do see evidence of them burrowing in our basement. I don’t know if that’s recent or if it’s from when the previous owners lived here. Our cats have only brought us one prize mouse. Here’s hoping that was the scout and when he didn’t return to the pack, the rest of the mice decided our house was a no-go. 🙂 Best of luck!

  2. We have mice every year in autumn, when it gets cold outside. Doug faithfully baits traps, and we catch half a dozen or so. (What do I mean, “we”? I never touch them!) It’s a ritual, and I sort of think it’s preferable to having the cats (back when we had cats) leave the lil’ corpses lying around the house. Though I am haunted by the occasional “SPROOO-ONG” of a trap that’s followed by anguished squeaks …

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