Of Mouse and (wo)Man

People live in the country. Mice live in the country.

It is inevitable that, at some point, their paths with intersect. Usually, it ends badly for the rodent.

I love animals. Almost all animals. I have nothing against mice – as long as they live outdoors.

My farmhouse, which will likely be in a never-ending state of repair, has had mice as residents much longer than the current humans.

Because I hate kill traps – both philosophically and because I don’t like to see little critters with their brains spattered onto my kitchen counter – I bought a bunch (a whole bunch) of live traps.

Here’s where the plug for my hometown comes in. Kness Manufacturing, which is directly across from my dad’s house outside Albia, has made “the better mousetrap” for decades. At least at one time, Kness traps were used in the White House.

In any case, the Pro-Ketch Multiple Catch Mousetrap does a dandy job – most of the time. Through the years, I have relocated dozens of brown field mice from the traps to, uh, fields, where they should live.

However, in recent weeks, one tiny gray house mouse refused to walk into the trap’s alluring tunnel.

Although I hadn’t seen Little Mouse, he left evidence. Lots of evidence. The kind that has to be cleaned up and the affected area sanitized.

Plus, the cat’s treats kept disappearing out of the container, which I would find knocked over on the kitchen counter every morning. In fairness to the cat, Mr. Magoo is blind and Little Mouse’s “trails” were mostly well above where the cat could have caught him. Complete lack of vision means Magoo never jumps up on counters or tables. That makes him an almost-ideal house cat in my opinion, but that’s a whole other story.

I eventually found a bunch of cat treats cached in a drawer where I keep the plastic sandwich bags. To his credit, it seems Little Mouse wanted the treats to stay soft and chewable.

About a week ago, I was in the basement and out of the corner of my eye, I saw something jumping up and down in the wash tub. Ah, ha! I finally had visual contact with the previously unseen culprit.

I took a coffee can and dropped it over Little Mouse. I ran upstairs to get one of the Pro-Ketch traps that Little Mouse obviously disdained. With no other alternative and facing a crazy woman armed with a can, Little Mouse made a dash for the Pro-Ketch tunnel.

He was apprehended.

I took the trap – with Little Mouse safely inside – for a nice long walk down a country road and released him into the grass.

For two days, there was no evidence of Little Mouse.

Then, the droppings were back. My Jim said it was time for more serious action. Off to the store we went to buy kill traps, those nasty pieces of wood that, when set and baited, will flatten a mouse’s head with a single snap.

But Little Mouse was so tiny that he didn’t set off the traps. He simply stole the peanut butter and escaped, unharmed and fortified for another midnight raid.

Apparently, Jim and I arose too early Monday and surprised Little Mouse well before sunrise. Afraid of the dealing with the crazy woman again, he scurried across the floor right into another Pro-Ketch.

This time, I took no chances. Little Mouse and I didn’t go for a walk; we went for a drive far, far away from the house. Little Mouse would have to ignore at least five other farmsteads to return to his former home.

Now, if that happens, I have only one option.

We will simply buy him a cage, adopt him as a pet and christen him with a name much more creative than Little Mouse.

Barbara Wallace Hughes is managing editor of The Messenger.