Is presented as a public service to readers in...

THIS ITEM

November 16, 1992

THIS ITEM is presented as a public service to readers in the wake of a report that ranked Baltimore as the city with the nation's fifth largest mouse population. How researchers figure out such things when the Census Bureau may not have even counted the people correctly in the cities is beyond us.

(Possibly, Mickey's cousins heard how the Inner Harbor draws ++ more visitors than Disney World and figured this would be a great place in which to winter.) Anyway, for those concerned about waves of intruding mice, we offer this advice from %J experience:

Take no prisoners.

The marketplace offers a bounty of mouse control products, many of them seemingly born of a concern for a kinder, gentler nation.

One of them traps the little beastie in a box so that you can rush it into the trunk of your car, drive like crazy for 30 miles or so down the interstate and deposit the critter safely in a meadow in another ZIP code, far from your own abode.

Another product seduces the mouse with a sex lure, then traps its feet to a sticky pad. "Don't pet the animal," advises the product container in two languages beside a cartoon depiction of an angry fang-bared rodent.

The homeowner is supposed to deposit the mouse in the trash, where it will starve to death, but the advertising on the package seems to imply that at least one can take comfort in not having butchered the little visitor.

However, for our money -- and a call to our extension agent confirmed our suspicion -- nothing beats the old-fashioned, spring-loaded mouse trap -- you know, the kind you set the cheese on, although a dollop of peanut butter seems to work better.

Wear gloves when setting the traps, because they go off at a touch. No children should be around, and watch your step once you set them. Mice do their scurrying at night and can get in and out of spaces you wouldn't believe. And if your concern is humanity to animals, rest easy that the mouse won't feel a thing.

So, read our lips. Make your day. Don't be a wimp. Stand up and fight.

As a colleague who experienced a similar dilemma told us, for all the disruption and anxiety the rodent caused in his household, it might as well have been a mountain lion.

Whoever first asked a coward "be they man or mouse," clearly had no concept of how ferocious a mouse could seem.

* * *

NOT EVEN the more well-heeled areas of Baltimore County appear to be immune to Malcolm-mania, if a recent sighting in suburbia is any indication.

Between the words "Malcolm" and "Circle" on a street sign in Cockeysville, an "X" was scrawled, apparently by a fan of the black leader slain nearly 30 years ago.

Voila!: Malcolm X Circle.

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