Build a better trap, or even a lousy one, and the dumb mice aill beat a path to it

November 09, 1995|By Kevin Cowherd

I GOT INTO IT with a mouse a few days ago, and it ended ugly, the way these things always do.

If you're going to get into it with a mouse, my advice is to keep it simple.

Forget those do-gooder traps where you catch the mouse alive and release him in the back yard.

Let me tell you something, Jack: That back yard better be in Wyoming. Because if you release him in your own back yard, he'll be back in your house before you are.

And this time he'll be the tour guide for a bunch of his buddies.

Nah, here's what you do. Buy yourself an old-fashioned mousetrap. What are they, two for a buck? Now slap a piece of cheese on that baby.

That's all it takes. Because quite frankly, mice aren't very bright.

Maybe you think that's a cheap shot against the whole mouse community, but hear me out.

Let's say you have three mice raiding this one kitchen cabinet for food, OK?

One night they all go out on a run, but only two of them come back the next morning.

Each of the two remaining mice is probably thinking: "Hmmm, wonder where Earl is? Last time I saw him, he was nibbling a piece of cheese on that wooden thing with the metal rods overhead."

But neither one says anything because, hell, Earl was kind of slow anyway. Maybe he just got lost.

So the next night, the two remaining mice go out again. And it's the same thing: lots of food, lots of laughs, life is good.

But this time, only one of them returns.

"Gee," he thinks, "I wonder where Sid is? Last time I saw him, he was nibbling a piece of cheese on that wooden thing with the metal rods, just like Earl was. Say, you don't suppose . . . nah."

Now it seems to me that if you're that last mouse, you're not going near anything that even looks like cheese on a wooden thing with metal rods.

Look at the whole thing logically: Two of your buddies are missing. And each one was last seen chowing down on cheese on whatever that God-forsaken wooden thing is.

But mice, they just don't seem to get it.

Because that last mouse, he'll go back to that kitchen cabinet the next night like nothing happened.

He'll be rolling along, singing a song, and suddenly he'll come upon a piece of cheese atop this wooden thing with metal rods.

But instead of shouting: "Whoah! That's the thing that killed Earl and Sid!" and high-tailing it in the opposite direction, he'll think: "Oh, how much can one bite hurt?"

Which is when -- BOOM!-- it's lights out for him, too.

This is something I could never understand.

How long have mousetraps been around? A hundred years? Two hundred years? And it's not like they've changed much.

You'd think the word would have gotten around the mouse community by now.

You'd think there'd be big signs everywhere with detailed pictures of mousetraps and the warning: "Yo, let's be careful out there."

You'd think there'd be hastily convened town meetings at which one mouse after another takes the podium and says: "Folks, a few weeks ago, there were 11 of us squeezing into this pantry at night. Now there's only five. I think it's high time we ask ourselves: What the devil is going on?"

That never seems to happen.

Anyway, this mouse I got into it with, he turned out to be even dumber than your average mouse. Which is really saying something.

Because as I was putting the trap out the other night, it occurred to me that I didn't have any cheese in the house.

But I put the trap out anyway, on the off-chance that I might be dealing with the world's stupidest mouse. And sure enough, when I checked it the next morning, there he was, stretched out like a drunk on a three-day bender.

Now, what exactly was the thought process here?

What do you think was running through his tiny pinhead on that last glorious food run, when he was scurrying along the kitchen cabinet and came across this wooden thing with metal rods -- no cheese, nothing yummy to eat, just this thing that had proven to be a killing field for countless numbers of his family members, friends, etc. -- and HE GOES AND CHECKS IT OUT ANYWAY!

Look, I'm not the brightest guy in the world.

But after dealing with a mouse like this, you walk away feeling like Galileo.

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