THE VERY COOPERATIVE MOUSE
This is probably irrelevant to everything else on my site. Reminded of it by a couple of mouse stories I ran across here: http://thesinglecell.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/who-let-you-in-here/ and here: http://jamieonline.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/the-day-i-used-the-unconventional-trap/, I decided that this story should be published somewhere, simply as one of the oddest things I ever observed. I have no witnesses, other than the mouse, and I didn’t get his name or phone number, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
In a small apartment that I inhabited for about 13 years in LA, I sometimes had mice. I have nothing against mice, either personally or as a species. If they could be housebroken and taught to touch and eat only as instructed, they might be quite pleasant roommates, but that’s not the case.
Some mutual understanding with them might be possible though. Read on.
I always relied on the old fashioned mousetraps, like the picture, with a big spring intended to mercifully break the critter’s neck or back as movement on the baited trigger releases it. When it works, it works very well. When it doesn’t….
Well, the mouse could approach from the other end of the trap, and get launched across the room or pinned belly-up, alive and struggling.
The trigger might not be sensitive enough. The mouse could have a pickpocket’s touch, and you could find yourself feeding the mouse repeatedly from the trap.
I learned to address the latter problem with some rather precise setting of the arm on the trigger. I also learned that, though peanut butter was great for attracting them, it could be licked off without disturbing the trigger. Something solid, like cheese, was needed to force some movement.
Anyway, one Saturday I was home and saw one of my unwanted visitors dart around the kitchen, back toward a place where I figured that they got in, by the kitchen sink. I set a trap there, and settled down for an afternoon nap.
Only ten minutes later, I heard the snap. “Well, I’ll just have my nap, and then dispose of the mouse…”
“Nope, can’t sleep knowing about that, not knowing how the trap performed.”
Walked in, there was the trap, upside down in its corner, and in the middle of the floor sat a mouse, for all appearances unharmed. Not so odd by itself. He might have just brushed against the trap and set if off without getting hit.
Every other time I’d seen a wild, uninjured mouse, it was for no more than a second before it was gone. This one was just sitting there as I walked right up to him.
“Ok, he must have been stunned, unable to move. So how do I get him out of here?”
The idea I settled on was to open the door, then try to scoop and pin him into the dust pan with the brush, while rushing out the door. It all had to be done rather quickly, not knowing when he might start jumping around, so I quietly slid the dustpan as close to him as I dared before trying anything.
He extended his nose toward the dustpan, then walked into it and sat down, just as he had been sitting on the floor.
The brush was unnecessary. Moving as smoothly as possible, I carried him out the door and set the dustpan down on the ground. He sniffed around a little, walked out of the dustpan, and sat down again.
It’s as if he understood me. I wanted him out, and he fully cooperated in the transportation. I never had another mouse after that.