As all readers know, I am a soft-hearted tree-hugging hippie liberal (except that I’m not a hippie and I rarely hug trees). So it may not surprise you that our house runs a catch-and-release program for most invaders.
Spiders, in particular, are captured and ushered outside; the same clemency is generally extended to centipedes, beetles, and (when possible) even flies. Mosquitoes, bees, and wasps forfeit their lives on account of their biological weapons. You see the boundaries of my beneficence.
This week, though, Nature raised the ante. We had a mouse.
I went to the kitchen around midnight on Sunday to see what was making the noise. I found it there on the stove, frozen. For a minute we watched each other. Finally I approached, and it dashed behind the microwave.
No sightings Monday, but then yesterday it dashed across the kitchen floor and ended up in the basement. I knew what I had to do.
I already had a no-kill mousetrap from an earlier, unsuccessful attempt to capture a visitor (it ended up finding a way to die on its own). This time, however, I had better luck. I baited it with peanut butter and went down every couple hours to check. By the afternoon, I had a mouse.
He was a cute little guy, tiny, smaller than I had thought when I saw him in the kitchen. Wide black eyes, gray fur, twitchy whiskery nose. I put on gloves to pick up the trap, in case he tried to bite me through the air holes (which he didn’t). He acted calmer than I expected, though I claim no particular expertise on the interpretation of rodent body language.
I took him out back behind the fence and opened one of the little trap-gates.
He didn’t notice right away – I had to tap and tilt to get his attention. When he did come to the gateway to freedom, he didn’t dash off instantly like I expected. He slowly, cautiously sniffed his new environment, half in the cage, half out. For all I know, he had never been outdoors before.
Finally he took his first careful steps out of the trap – and made a beeline for the nearest cluster of weeds, and disappeared.
Who knows, maybe an owl ate him last night.
Some people hate mice (and spiders, too) and I don’t blame them for that. But personally, I don’t get that much interaction with Nature. So when Nature comes visiting me, I find it awfully convenient.