The other day our cat left us a gift. When Troy went to let the dog out in the morning, he saw a dead mouse waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs. Neat.
Fast forward a couple of days. Troy was up at men's retreat when I saw a mouse skitter across the floor and underneath my refrigerator. Double neat.
I shoveled the boys into the car and went straight to WalMart to get traps. I have a serious fear of setting those cheap wooden ones. It's not that I'm a total girl, it's just that I like all of my fingers and I don't really feel like losing one in the process of setting a trap. Oh, okay, I'm a total girl. So I splurged and got two slightly more expensive traps that advertised in big red letters that they were easy to set. The traps had teeth that resembled ferocious jaws. These will be effective, I thought.
I filled the food wells with peanut butter and I put one trap behind the refrigerator and the other on the floor of the pantry behind my big, heavy, wonderful KitchenAid mixer. You try finding two spots in your kitchen where it's safe to have a mouse trap. Two spots where your curiously stupid but lovable golden retriever won't wander for a tasty lick of peanut butter thus amputating a chunk of his tongue. Two spots where your cat won't reach his tiny little paw and retract it with a trap hanging off. Two spots where your eight month old won't grab at the interesting new toy thus losing a few digits in the process. And two spots where your three-year-old won't step for the sole purpose of getting a cool new shoe--and losing his big toe.
I checked the traps constantly. Nothing. Late that night, as I sat watching the end of a movie, I heard the snap of a trap. I waited several minutes and then checked the trap behind the refrigerator. It was still set. I opened the door to the pantry. The trap was sprung and lying on its side. Shining a flashlight into the small darkened area I saw a little mouse jerk its head.
It's not dead! I said, audibly. Loudly. Apparently, easy to set does not necessarily mean easy to kill.
Using tongs I pulled the trap out. The mouse was frantically thrusting its upper body around in an attempt to free itself. It was pinched in half but I couldn't detect any blood. It stared at me. "Help me!" It seemed to cry. And all I could think about--all I could think about--was Remy from Ratatouille. This wasn't a rat (thank heaven!) it was just a little mouse but still. When it looked at me with those little eyes and wriggled its nose it very well may have opened its mouth and whispered, "Why? Why have you done this to me?"
Again with the audible part, I said, You have to kill it. You have to end its suffering. And I began to sweat uncontrollably. I considered leaving it for my husband to deal with but then it wiggled its nose at me again. I used the tongs to carry the trap out to the garage and I got a gardening tool. Okay. You just have to hit it. Hard. And fast. You can do this. But then the logistics of the trap confused me. There was a big plastic piece in the way of my clean shot to the mouse's skull. I was afraid I'd hit the plastic piece and the trap would go flying with a live mouse still inside. I decided to take the trap outside, open it (with the gardening tool) and see what happened. If the mouse ran away I would just cross my fingers that it didn't end up back in my house. If it was paralyzed, I would have easy access to the entire mouse and I would hit it, quickly, with a hoe.
I released the trap. That mouse ran faster than a speeding bullet and I'm not even kidding you. It was as though those stupid jaws had somehow managed to miss its spinal column entirely and all it did was merely pinch the dumb mouse for awhile. Into the snow it ran and then disappeared into the dark. Au revoir, little mouse. Please don't come back into my house.
It's been two days and we haven't caught another one. But I think I'll let the cat take care of them in the future. He does a much better job than the traps.