Sunday, March 04, 2007

Weapons of Mouse Destruction II: The Battle Continues

As you may recall, my first mammalian kill (not counting the flesh foods I consume daily) was of a mouse that got stuck in a glue trap by my fridge this past summer. One of several little fuckers I saw scampering around that week, I felt quite a bit of guilt over its contorted form - it had suffered for hours in a twisted, grotesque position before I discovered it. What to do to put it out of its misery as quickly as possible? I had an old frying pan at hand. I put the mouse in a newspaper, took it and the frying pan into the alley behind my building, set it on the pavement, and raised the pan high over my head...

The resultant blow, while dramatic, may not have killed the mouse, but I didn't really want to CHECK, dig? I tossed the paper AND the old frying pan in the dumpster and returned upstairs. I had lived in the building for two years without a single mouse. A friend who has lived over by City Hall for several rodent-free years also was reporting mouse activity, and a friend since has said she's been seeing mice: perhaps this is connected to all the gentrification in Vancouver, with mice abandoning demolished old buildings and seeking new, safer homes?

A few weeks later, a second mouse was caught in a snap trap in my "living room" area (that section of the bachelor suite where I entertain, in other words). It wasn't killed; I was sitting at the computer when the trap snapped shut, and it began to squeak in desperate protest, dragging the trap behind it as it crawled along on its forelegs. I worried it had been paralyzed by spinal damage, as I rushed to free it into a trash bin, but it seemed ultimately okay. I took it some blocks away and released it - I didn't want to kill again.

For awhile, I was mouse-free. This winter, its started up again. I returned home from a film to see a fat, apparently pregnant mouse scurrying for safety under my Morris bed area (which I use for storage). I put out more traps - I'd left out a couple of glue traps from the initial summer panic but I didn't want more, since they obviously cause suffering. I put out two humane traps - nicely designed and so far completely useless - and a couple of fresh snap traps. A week ago, I got back from work to find a mouse stiff and dead in a trap in my kitchen. Scoop it up, throw it away, put out a fresh trap.

Today I discovered that one of the glue traps I had had somehow moved. I shone a light into the corner: a mouse was curled inside, apparently in a position of repose, but not, it seemed, dead. How it dragged the trap two feet, while completely stuck, I don't know.

I really had no idea how long it had been in there, and I was out of old frying pans. How to deal?

A hammer. All I've got. I mean, what - a buddy suggested filling a bucket and drowning it, but who wants to be drowned? One swift, decisive blow would be better... but there's a problem: how to protect yourself from being spattered by mouse blood?

Okay: I put the mouse and trap in a plastic bag. I peek inside at the mouse while doing so and make the mistake of inhaling through my nose; I learn that the smell of a dying, scared, shitting mouse is similar to the smell of the sulphur off a lit wooden match. Sharp and unpleasant and given to lingering.

I wrap my hammer's head in plastic bags too, and I double bag the mouse.

But with the mouse in a bag in a bag - how can I know if the mouse is dead? How will I know, even, where to strike?

I get a better idea: suffocation. Less of a panic than drowning, maybe - it takes a bit more time. It's a recommended method of suicide, after all - Jerzy Kosinski killed himself by putting a bag over his head. It's even in the book Final Exit.

I quadruple bag the mouse, and take the package down to the dumpster. None of the terror of drowning, none of the violence or possible human error of a random hammer blow. It's the best I can offer - I am an amateur in matters of death. I don't fish anymore, since I kill so badly.

I throw away my last good glue trap, to be spared such future problems.

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