Opinion: Of mice and men


There has been a lot of activity in the Wolfsie bedroom lately. Sadly, this column is not going to be as interesting as you might expect. Our home has been the chosen hangout for a variety of critters, mostly outside in our yard, but now an animal of some kind is loose in the air vent above our bed.

Mary Ellen and I are both animal lovers. In our basement, we recently set humane mousetraps marketed as “catch and release.” Word must have spread in our backyard woods that a good meal could be had in the Wolfsie basement, accompanied by free transportation back to the nest. Were we played by rodents? What rats!

I called my friend Tim Evans, a longtime respected journalist at the Indianapolis Star. He has a hobby of collecting unusual mousetraps, a fascination that began more than 40 years ago when he and his father found an old one, circa 1915, while restoring an old home. He has since acquired dozens of these devices.

Tim is drawn to those that reflect a Rube Goldberg-approach to mice murder. He has traps that crush, decapitate, or strangle. One of his favorites entices a mouse to literally walk a plank to tumble into a little tub of water. All are relics of the past.

The mousetrap is a metaphor for the inventive spirit of America. The mechanism comes in all shapes and sizes (so do mice, by the way). The brains behind these traps, those steel-trap minds, have come up with dozens of ways to effectively part company with our rodent guests.

Tim wasn’t aware of the newest techniques for eliminating mice, but he says his home is free of the pests. It must be known throughout Rodentville that his house is a ghoulish museum of ancient torture techniques.

I was surprised to learn online that cheese is no longer the bait of choice. Peanut butter is recommended. My wife feels strongly that a last meal should always be special. Death in a Jif!

We bought an electronic trap that works quickly and humanely. The technology can sense mice have entered the compartment and the system triggers a shock that “knocks ’em dead.”

The ad for this device says: “It kills over 100 mice per set of batteries.” That’s the kind of product research missing on most merchandise. Wouldn’t you like to know how many times you can change the channel with your remote or open and close your garage door with a couple of AAAs? That useful information is never included. But deaths per battery? It’s right there on the box.

Mary Ellen has been torn by this whole situation. She humanizes the creatures, and her heart goes out to them. I suggested we try to not think about it for a night and just watch a fun movie.

“Ratatouille” was probably a bad choice.


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