Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Mousetrap

This is a sad story.

Once upon a time, I saw a mouse run across my kitchen. Now, at first thought, this might not seem so sad. Mice are almost teeth-rottingly cute, right?

Well, as it turns out, they're only cute until you decide to make some eggs for breakfast.

This is Chase the Wonderdog.

Chase comes across his name honestly. He'll chase anything.

So I figured that the mouse would be quickly taken care of. Chase the Wonderdog would run after it, scare it senseless, and it would flee and never set foot in my kitchen again. Right?

Wrong. The only things that moved were his eyes.

Husband wanted the mouse out. I wanted the mouse out too - except that I didn't want to hurt it. Chase the Wonderdog just wanted a cookie and a bellyscratch.

Negotiations ensued.

I was very clear and vocal about my stance: I wanted that mouse unharmed. I didn't want to break its mousy little neck with a spring trap. I didn't want to liquify its mousy little insides with poison. I wanted something gentle and kind and humane. I wanted to take that mouse by its furry little paw, and lovingly lead it outside to its new home.

Enter the humane mousetrap.

Just to be clear, this is a reproduction. The original trap wasn't made out of cardboard and scotch tape.

The idea is that you bait the mousetrap with peanut butter and wait.

Eventually the mouse comes sniffing at the trap, dreaming of peanut buttery goodness. It pushes its cute little whiskered nose through the trapdoor and, when the mouse is fully inside, the door closes behind it, trapping it safely and humanely.

Then, you drive far from your house to a forested area, lay the trap gently on the grass and open the door, wiping away a tear of joy as you watch the mouse scamper gratefully away into its woodsy new home.


At first, I checked the mousetrap a dozen times a day, fully expecting each time to have caught my furry little friend. I felt let down - almost cheated - every time I opened that trap to find it empty. After a few days, my inspections dwindled away: five times a day, three times a day, twice a day, once a day while muttering something about "stupid worthless traps".

And every single day, I found mouse droppings in my pots and pans. I couldn't make eggs without disinfecting the entire kitchen first.

After about a week, our landlord called. He told us that he'd "taken care of the problem". He started telling me about stuffing holes with steel wool and laying traps and poison, but I cut him off. I didn't need to hear about the mouse torture that had gone on in my own home.

Besides, the fact was that I was pretty relieved that I didn't have to worry about mouse droppings anymore.

The following week, I decided that I may as well throw the mousetrap away. I reached behind the microwave and pulled it out.

Could it be...?


I mean, I checked that trap every day.



No. There's no way. Absolutely not.

Of course not.

In real life, I opened the trap to find its tail, not its sad little face.
It's called "artistic license".

The thought of it still crushes my insides: I let him die a slow, cruel death by dehydration and starvation. In a humane trap.

I told you that it was a sad story.

But at least I was able to fry an egg again without disinfecting the kitchen.

So I guess it was sort of a happy ending.



Edited to add comments on December 19th.

I can't seem to fix Intense Debate comments on this site, so I'm going to switch back to the Blogger commenting system, at least for now. I didn't want to lose all of your lovely comments, so I've decided to copy and paste them directly into the post:

Lisa: Omg, that's funny and awful!
We did the not-so-humane traps when I was a kid. I remember my sister and I really respecting the traps, and then our (naughty) cousins came over and took plastic hangers and set them all off (and broke the hangers too). I never actually saw a dead mouse in a trap, but my sister did (and screamed).
The humane traps...my dad used for the woodchucks....those were big and scary (and not in the house...they were burrowing under things in the yard).

Cathy: oh, stephanie, you tell a good story!
thanks for the warning that it's a sad story - but you made it very suspenseful!
you get A+ for effort in trying to be kind to poor mousey. let's just blame chase the wonderdog - if he had done his job and chased the mouse outta the house and into a field, the story would have had a happier (if more boring) ending.
love your mousetrap reproduction and the artistic license comment - thanks for a fun tuesday story! (and i agree with putting your stories in one blog - we can click over!).

Abby: Hey, you tried. I can only imagine how you felt--I would've sobbed my eyes out!! But, you tried to do things the humane way, and you get major points for that.
PS: I totally followed your new blog. Yay!

forgottenbeast: If it makes you feel any better (maybe?), "humane" mousetraps often kill the mice relatively fast when they get inside, realize they are trapped, panic and their hearts give out. Is that comforting? Probably not. But he might not have starved to death.

Leauxra: Aww. So sad! Honestly, though, be happy that Chase the Wonderdog left the mouse alone. I have seen what happens when cats and dogs get a hold of mice. Or voles. Or baby rabbits. It ain't pretty.

Kiah: Oh no! You poor thing. I am terrified of mice and snakes, the former because of their affiliation with the former.

reccewife: My dad had a gopher problem outside. He went to the Fish and Wildlife store and told them. They led him to the guns. He said he didn't want to shoot them, so they looked at him strange and took him to the traps and poison. He said he didn't want to kill it. They stared. Blankly. The told him to try the humane society. They gave him a trap like yours and he diligently to this day retraps the same friggin gopher over and over and releases it back to the wild where it returns the next week.
This blog made me think of how we tease my dad to t his day for not stopping at the guns. You are so cute :)

Zo@strivingcynic: Aww. Poor mousey. I can totally see myself in your place in that story. Sounds exactly like something I would do.
I do not, however, have your way with plasticine. They really work with your stories!

Lindz: omg, that squirrel made me burst out laughing! This was awesome. You are so great with the plasticine, seriously. Mad skills.
This reminded me so much of the humane mouse trap my Dad got for our house...it was plastic, and looked exactly like your depiction actually. haha. But when he caught the mouse he would take the trap and hold it underwater, drowning the mouse! I was horrified. What was the point of a humane mouse trap in the first place?!

shell flower: Aww. Poor mousie. This is the perfect example of good intentions going bad, and told ultra-hilariously, of course. I love Chase's eyes in the plasticene. I'm pretty sure that's all my cat would do, too.

Justine: You are still worlds better than my neighbor, who traps groundhogs in a humane trap so that he can shoot them the night before garbage day. He's a ninety year old farmer, in case you were wondering.

Murr Brewster: There's a quarter-inch crack between a brick wall in our cabin and the ceiling. One day we saw that a mouse had gotten his face stuck in there. His whole body was hanging by his nose. It was all over by the time we noticed. He just gets flatter and flatter by the month, but still intact. And he did it all to himself.
In a previous life, I was responsible for the direct torture and execution of thousands of white mice. They will no doubt figure prominently in my personal hell.

brokencookiesdon'tcount: Poor baby...I mean you, Stephanie. It wasn't your fault. I probably would have had the same thing happen.

blissflower: Oh honey! I actually had tears well up. I'm so sorry- that sucks. But you tried to do the right thing, so that totally counts as karma points for something.

Jen: Aw, you had really good intentions. And if it makes you feel better, My cats have killed four mice this winter alone. And we have to find their sad little mouse bodies, covered in teeth marks, on our kitchen floor. And my cats don't seem to feel guilty in any way. At all.
You really are awesome with the plasticine!

Jonelle: As much as this story made me laugh...I have NO compassion for rodents. I don't even like the squirrels that scamper *shudder* around my apartment complex. (They rank #3 on the phobia hierarchy between balloons and dolls, yes I have weird phobias). But as always your plasticine stories are hilarious :)

Candace: You're a hoot! When they pooped in my silverware drawer the second time it was on. I warned them that I was going to accelerate their karma and not feel guilty about it! It was all on them.


  1. After you told me about this, my husband stopped checking the traps. I told him we weren't running a mousy Auschwitz and I keep an eye on them still, though we have closed up the hole they were coming through and have not seen them at all since.

  2. I love the illustrations! Such a funny and sad story, i almost fell off my bed! Don't feel bad, you wanted to help the little thing and in someway you did!