Monday, January 4, 2010

International Brotherhood of Wild Rodents, Local 305

Living out in the country means that a plethora of germy little dudes wangle their way into our house every winter. Since I’m the first one up in the morning, I’m the one who – joy of joys - finds the evidence of their nightly raids on the kitchen counters, behind the cookbooks, in the sink, and in especially cold years, in the silverware drawers and the pantry. Nothing like cleaning up a load of poop to brighten your morning routine.

Since we don’t have cats like the rest of our neighbors, we have to rely on the next best thing. But since we also don’t have the stomach to kill the little guys outright with contraptions that snap their necks, we’ve been using have-a-heart traps. Theoretically, these allow mice to enter, which trips a little door, leaving them harmlessly captive until you can get in your car and drive them at least a mile away from the house, where they become someone else’s problem.


Seems that our mice have been taking a correspondence course in Trap Evasion 101. They can now enter the have-a-heart, scarf the bit of cracker or peanut butter or potato chip we bait them with, and leave.

Yep. Leave.

The inequities in this action are unacceptable. We go out of our way to use the kindest traps possible, always release our captives in lovely fields with ample cover, waterfront views and food potential, and they’re taking advantage of us.

So I lodged a complaint with the local wild rodents’ union, and to date, have received no response.

We offered to bargain regardless. If we kept our prisoners of war enemy combatants in small holding pens replete with clean wood shavings, fresh water and adequate food until the most auspicious weather conditions (say, daytime temperatures above freezing), would they then allow that trap door in the have-a-heart to close?

Still, no response.

We implemented our proposed work action regardless. And voila, one mouse complied. From the trap he went quietly into the holding pen, and seemed to be tolerating, if not at times enjoying, his slices of Granny Smith apple, bits of sesame cracker, and diced carrots. Organic carrots, mind you. Nothing but the best for our prisoners of war enemy combatants.

We would have released the mouse on a nice day, keeping our end of the bargain, but we hit a stretch of frigid weather. While we argued about the cruelty of setting him free when it was so cold out (Husband) versus the cruelty of keeping him in a pen about as big as the average lunch pail (me) and the general creepiness of having a wild rodent sitting on the bookshelf next to his mother’s ashes as if he were a pet (me) even though it has fur and would survive being out in the elements just fine (me), “Mousie” continued to live with us, day after cold day, and morning after cold morning I’d wake up to find my little pink-and-blue striped hand towel wrapped around the pen to keep him warm, and new bits of food dripped into his habitat. When it got especially frigid, “Mousie” got to come upstairs for the night, where it was warmer.

Today was supposed to be Amnesty Day. With temperatures topping out at 30 and the sun shining, Husband was going to put Mousie et al in the back seat of his car and drive him to the rodential equivalent of Disneyland.

The plan would have been executed as designed, except that Mousie had escaped. Flown the coop. Chewed his way to freedom, gnawing a mouse-sized hole in the hard plastic ventilation grating at the top of the pen.

Little bastard.

OK, I know that we didn’t have an official union-sanctioned bargain, but we’d made a tacit agreement with that mouse that would have held up in any labor arbitration.

And now he’s probably wiggling his way into the cereal drawer.

That’s it, we said. No more Mr. and Ms. Nice Guy. If we can’t get the union to back us up, we’re going to get tough. We’re going rogue.

No, that doesn’t mean waterboarding harmless coercion tactics.

But no more Granny Smith apples.

No more sesame crackers.

And definitely, no more organic carrots. We have to draw the line somewhere, after all.

(Image found on

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately...I know exactly what you're talking about. Only your version is far more amusing!