Adventures in Mouse Trapping
Posted on November 4, 2011 Posted by John Scalzi 50 Comments
The shadowy form you see in this plastic container is a mouse, which I trapped in my bathroom after in fled from my dog, which only moments earlier had the poor thing in her mouth. She had been pouncing after the thing in the bedroom, which occasioned us learning that squeak toys are in fact modeled after the sounds that indignant rodents made when they are being hugged with a dog’s teeth. The dog was quite good at catching the mouse but didn’t appear to know what to do with it once the thing was caught, which is why the thing escaped from her, more than once.
It’s unusual to have a mouse in the house at all, because we have three working cats, all of whom we have verifiable evidence of being able to catch and disembowel creatures such as this. So how did this one get into the house? Why, the dog, who apparently caught it during its morning walk and then snuck it into the house to play with it some more. Krissy, who walks the dog in the morning, noted Daisy acting a little funny, cutting short the walk to go right to the door; now we know why.
This animal thus encased in plastic, I walked it out to the bushes and let it go there. Hopefully it will find its way home without further incident, and will learn in the future to avoid dogs. As well as cats and skunks and hawks and snakes and lawn tractors. It’s hard out there for a mouse.
My cat brings mice into the house, then lets them go for the dog to play with. Neither one is very good at it, so we end up with mice.
I thought it was supposed to work the other way around!
It matters not what you fight, but what you fight for!
We had a cat that took care of mice quite efficiently. Sadly, our current model has the same problem as your dog: loves to catch them but can’t dispatch them. We only let her out in our yard when we are with her (mostly for her own protection but also because we don’t want her killing things if she ever figures out how). One day she surprised a gopher & had it by the neck just as I opened the door to grab something for the grill. She made a mad dash into the house & we spent the next hour trying to get the stupid thing out!
I have a neighbor who traps squirrels live, and then drives them to the local college campus where he releases them.
We have two cats. Starbuck has caught mice, rats, birds, junebugs, and a squirrel. She even caught a flicker once, a pretty good-sized type of woodpecker, which she let loose in the house. Our other cat, Corbin, has caught a few mice and birds, but usually he catches worms. Big fat ones. He’ll bring them in through the cat door meowing proudly but distinctively because his mouth is full. Then he leaves them under the dining room table for us. At least they’re easy to catch and release.
I used to go home from work at lunch time. One day I arrived to find the cats howling and pacing. Eventually they led me to the bathroom. I thought it might be a litter box issue, but as I was checking that, I saw something moving in the toilet out of the corner of my eye!
Turned out to be one of those kangaroo ‘rats’ and, as evidence later discovered proved, it had led the cats on a very merry chase through the entire house, before going for a swim.
I guess the cats felt it was no longer edible at that point.
I rescued the poor thing (it was doing a breast stroke and going under for the third time from exhaustion) and for nearly an hour all it wanted to do was rest in my hand.
It took me all night to pack that mouse with cyanide, and the dumb dog didn’t even swallow it?!?!?
@Ben: Your neighbor’s trying to educate squirrels? Or is he trying to bring up test scores at the college?
Occasionally, our dogs will get out (we have a digger) and one misty morning, they were at the gate wanting in and one of them had a very large something in it’s mouth. As they got closer, it turned out to be a very large rabbit head with ears over a foot long. The boy dog brought it up and dropped it at my feet and then I realized it was a stuffed toy rabbit’s head. And they were so proud of it! I have no idea where they got it from and I feel bad that there’s a little kid out there wondering what happend to their bunny they left out in their yard.
“It’s hard out there for a mouse.”
That may be, but it’s the cheese who stands alone.
I remember our cats trapping a very small mouse once when we were on an extended stay at my inlaws, and the cats really didn’t know what to do with it. It was cornered, and it was very early in the morning (thus I was Not In The Mood). I reached down and snatched it up with my hand, walked into the kitchen where my inlaws were having breakfast and held it out. “You have mice,” I said, to their surprise. Then I took it outside and tossed in into the neighbor’s yard.
Unless you have an extremely large thumb, I’d say that is a diminutive mouse.
That delightful little piece was so well written I feel like we should be paying you for it.
So I need a plastic bowl with a lid at the end? No wonder my game of MouseTrap never worked…
Whats wrong with your cats?
We used to catch mice in little have a heart traps. Then go across the road and let them loose. They would then turn around and beat me back to the house. We finally got to rescue cats, but N’or looked like it was Bill the Cat and the other had no teeth. The mice continue to rule.
THIS is exactly why I have house plants. Although, they are trying to take over the house.
Sigh. Same problem, different kingdom.
My previous cat was blind, and the mice knew it. I saw one cheekily parading to the cat’s food bowl while the old, blind cat was asleep. Now, however, it is a different story. The current prey in the house are the stray waterbugs that wander in occasionally, and they are dispatched with alacrity by the feline denizens of the house. What they wouldn’t give for a mouse to drop by!
My thumb is in the foreground and the mouse is on the other end of the container. It was actually a fairly large mouse as these things go.
Inasmuch as the dog snuck the mouse into the house in her mouth, where the cats could not get it, nothing.
I have four cats. Only one of them seems to know what to do with mice, however. What she does with mice could be described as “catch and release” with the caveat that she then immediately catches them again. She has never eaten her prey: she just plays with her lovely new toy until it breaks, at which point she brings it to me in the hopes that I will fix it for her.
Once, she stuck a mouse in my slipper to keep it contained so that everyone could have a turn poking at it. Fortunately I noticed them poking at something before I stuck my foot in there.
I figure any mouse dumb enough to come into a house with four cats deserves what it gets. Natural selection at work.
(When the huntress has no mice ready to hand — which is most of the time — she hunts socks. When I hear her yowling triumphantly, I know she’s caught another one.)
…you do realize that its home is probably YOUR home, right? Putting it in the bushes is probably just going to mean one of your cats shall have a snack later.
Once I had a cat who woke me up one morning by presenting me with a dead mouse. Much screaming, shouting and throwing the mouse outside 3 times before she stopped bringing it back. Not many days after, I heard her meowing outside the door, in stead of just coming in through the window as she usually did, so I opened the door and she presented me with a dead pigeon – almost as big as herself. After a brief pause, I decided to praise her because I was afraid what she’d try to slay next if I scolded her for that too.
Naomi Kritzer: Hubby tells me of a time when he was a teenager, where he happened upon the two family cats playing with something. Turned out they were essentially playing field hockey with a mouse–they’d bat it back and forth until the poor thing became exhausted, the cats would get bored and go do something else, then when the mouse revived they’d start over again. Hubby thought this was hysterical, until my MIL realized what was going on. She scolded hubby and the cats, and released the mouse outside.
Many years ago, my parents had a Dalmatian who stayed outside during the day while they were at work. One day my mother returned home from school just in time to see the dog with a large, bushy squirrel tail hanging out of his mouth. She scolded him, he gulped, and the squirrel was no more.
Wow, you have some tough mice in your part of Ohio. The two that have gotten in my dwellings over the years have both died of fright when I tried to put large containers over them and release them back outside. Each time, I set the container down, slid the lid out from under and the previously alive mouse was dead. All in less than 5 minutes.
In the past my cats would bring me crickets (live and dead), various cat toys, and once a dead mouse. I think that they were trying to teach me to hunt and finally gave up in disqust.
If you catch mice alive, you have to take them at least a mile away if you don’t want to see them again. We learned this the hard way.
We have 3 cats who do at least some mousing and it really cleaned up a problem. We not only don’t have mice in the house anymore, they regularly do in the voles in the garden who had been murdering the fruit trees we planted. Nothing beats the surprise of opening the pantry where the cat food is kept and finding two dead hares neatly stored away behind the vacuum cleaner, though.
House was built somewhere around 1875 on a mortared rubble-stone foundation. IOW, there’s no way to stop the mice from coming in. Thankfully, I have a cat that lives for the chase and kill. I have another cat that can corner a mouse, but is utterly clueless beyond that point. My mouser is 7YO, or about halfway through cat life, so I’ll be taking applications from young mousers in 2015 or so (i.re. let the master teach the student).
I suspect that had the dog caught the mouse when hungry it would have figured out what to do next. Thankfully, you had a well fed and content dog and no tiny entrails to clean up.
Huh, a free-running mouse in my house would have a scrum of cats and dogs hunting it down. I say, check their temperature just to be sure….
It wasn’t free running when it came into the house; it was in the dog’s mouth. The dog then took it upstairs, where the cats were not. The cats are good at their jobs, but are not psychic.
Are you sure they’re not psychic? Maybe they just don’t always act upon their psychically obtained knowledge, sort of like how the allies didn’t always act on Ultra info so the Germans wouldn’t know we’d cracked Enigma.
Do you have a smiley face on your thumbnail?
I used to sit for a cat that would do this with bunnies – drag them into the house and then release them. Apparently watching his owners run around after a bunny was more interesting than doing it himself.
My three are generally useless. They’ll watch a cricket hop across the floor with a lot of intensity, but rarely bother to actually chase it.
When I was a kid we had a cat that did know how to dispatch mice, but she still brought them into the house to play with them, and I think she lost a few. She also didn’t take kindly to the dog trying to join in the play. It seems to me that if you have a mouser that spends time outdoors you are apt to end up with a low but non-zero indoor mouse population.
Now we have dogs who bring in bunnies and leave them among the scattered plush dog toys. Actually it’s been a while– they may have learned to leave them outside.
I have had a couple of cats who were great mousers. The first was the offspring of a half-feral barn cat. Malken cleaned up the mouse problem we had in our shed within a couple of weeks of arriving at the house, when she was about half-grown. She then switched to lizards. But the family cat story I love is that of my grandfather who had a big tomcat who was a very good hunter. The cat would bring him the birds he killed so that my grandfather would pluck and dress them for him. Apparently it drove my grandmother crazy. A side effect I suspect was at least part of my grandfather’s motive!
I actually watched the neighbor’s cat play with a mouse on their front doorstep one afternoon until I took pity and startled the cat and the mouse got away. It didn’t seem to run very fast, it was either injured or tired out.
“because we have three working cats”. Cats don’t work; surely you jest :)
The parade of disemboweled rodents on my front porch would like to disagree.
Somehow this reminds me of a long ago day, when I came home from high school to find my mother and the family dog in what appeared to be either a screaming competition or some sort of contagious fit. It turns out that some hapless mouse had entered the house (as near as I could figure out, it came in the front door). Mom had trapped it under an empty coffee can (open side down of course). To make sure the beast could not escape, it was weighed down with one of my father’s steel-toed work boots. I managed to slide a magazine under the can (and the mouse), and carried it across the street where I released it in what came as close to wilderness as you can find in suburban New Jersey. Darn thing beat me back across the street. Not to my house though. No, clearly the traumatic experience had addled it’s little brain. It ran next door, where five cats kept a family of three human.
Ghlaghghee: cat… sense… tingling… why….
[Daisy rushes through front door]
Ghlaghghee: Hey! You! Dog!
Ghlaghghee: Where have you been?
Daisy: mum mumble mum mumbleble
Daisy: mum mumble mum MUMbleble
Ghlaghghee: Wait, what’s in your mouth?
Daisy: … mum-ing
Ghlaghghee: No, not nothing. SOMEthing.
Daisy: mum UM!
Ghlaghghee: Remember the last time you lied to me I hired the neighbor dog to come over and chew up two-leg’s slippers so it looked like you did it?
Daisy: … [looking quite sad but saying nothing]
Ghlaghghee: So help me, I will cut you where you stand [extends claws]
Daisy: My mot a mod!
Ghlaghghee: You caught a what?
Daisy: a mod!
Ghlaghghee: A mouse?
Daisy: mi moned moo may mi mee
Ghlaghghee: he wanted to play with you?
Daisy: muh mah
(squeaking): I most certainly did NOT!
Daisy: [yelps] [spits mouse onto floor]
mouse: [takes out pipe, calmly lights it, takes a puff, and exhales] Professor Moriarty, we meet again.
[dun dunn DUNN!]
[fade to black]
Nice Great Mouse Detective reference! =)
But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Probably not a mouse – from the nose, looks more like a vole.
“Through the plashy fen scampers the questing vole”. Any
fens down your way?
I’m somewhat saddened to learn that I’m not the only one who can catch a mouse in a tupperware container.
Anyway, good job!
We had mice in the basement of the house I live in as a kid. We didn’t have a cat ( my mother isn’t fond of them) and the dogs weren’t allowed in the basement alone, so aside from the traps the mice had free run of the basement. Until the snakes moved in. That sure kept he mouse population down, but every spring was very exciting as some of the snakes decided to leave through the house, rather than however they got in.
Now my cat is barely competent to catch spiders. I’d hate to think who would win in a contest with a mouse.
Bast, my lady cat, used to bring me mice with one leg chewed off, and, then, proceed to show me in gory detail how to stalk, pounce, and dispatch it, frequently on my bed, before presenting it proudly at my feet for (vegetarian) me to eat. I couldn’t tell whether she thought I was her retarded kitten who needed to be taught, over and over, how to hunt or whether she was demonstrating a pointed critique of the kind of cat food I brought home from the grocery store.
You mean you didn’t tape bacon to the mouse?
It never fails to amuse me how proud cat and dog owners seem to be of our creatures’ hunting prowess, or their lack thereof. My cat definitely falls into the latter category: on the one occasion he had a clear opportunity to catch a mouse that had wandered into the apartment, Sputnik sprawled on the floor and observed aloofly, until my roommate accidentally killed the mouse while trying to chase it outside.
However, I do prefer that to the childhood cat who liked to stash his dead birds in my bed.
John, it wasn’t mice that made my mother-in-law scream from the bathroom for help from varmints. Every year the local river, the Trinity, ‘turns’ sending snakes and other critters up our pipes. The garter snake that emerged from the bathtub drain was Much more surprised than my MIL.
I was previously terrified of snakes until 3 garter snakes slithered up our bath tub pipe. I became rather blase about them, viewing them as misguided tourists. Now we have a grated stopper to keep the scaled tourists out.
And if you know anyone afraid of snakes, feel free to turn this long anecdote into a scary fireside story. “Then the deadly reptile slid into the bathtub, curling around Valerie’s ankles…'”
why did it have to be snakes?
Greg, I’m not trying to be flip or sarcastic, but snakes were the only ones to make it through the pipes.