2013.01.23 Mouse could have used a better friend than me

Written by David Green.


I’ve been thinking—a bit too much, perhaps—about mice and rats lately. Luckily, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with any in my apartment. I’ve yet to have any since I moved to Fayette back in 2004.

I attribute that to Jeb, the late Fayette cat, and his friends. There is often a stray cat or two around the Dumpster in my apartment complex, and I’d guess they take care of any mice who show up looking for a meal. In previous apartments, I wasn’t as lucky.

In 1985, I moved into one side of a duplex in Adrian. The couple who was cleaning the apartment for the landlord  suggested I set some mouse traps as they had noticed signs of mice in the place.

I bought and set two traps and when I returned the following day to drop off some boxes I got a bit of a surprise. One of the traps was tripped and empty, lying about ten feet from where I had set it. Another five or six feet away lay a dead hamster. 

The hamster had obviously struggled to escape and actually was successful, but apparently had exhausted itself in the attempt. I still wonder if its owner had turned it loose or if it was crafty enough to escape from its cage. 

A few years later, I heard noises coming from the kitchen sink in the middle of the night. Something was rattling around the dirty dishes I should have washed before bedtime. When I got up to check, I found evidence of a mouse at work, but the culprit had made its escape.

This one made me wonder if it, too, was a high functioning hamster as it took me about ten days of moving two traps around to finally catch it. It turned out to be just a normal mouse. A smart one, obviously, but eventually, a dead one. 

I had much better luck after I moved to Blissfield. One day, I discovered mouse droppings in the basement and went to the local hardware store for some traps. I bought and set four traps in the basement and went back upstairs.

No more than ten minutes later, I heard a loud snapping noise downstairs. I went to check and found a dead mouse in one of the traps. I left the rest of the traps in place, but never caught another mouse or saw any signs that another could be lurking around. That invasion was handled rather quickly.

Shortly before I moved to Fayette, the Dumpster for the two restaurants nearby was relocated at the edge of my yard, only about ten feet or so from my side door. I wonder how many cold mice tried to come in to warm up that winter after getting a meal nearby? That was a problem for the next tenant.

Last week, while dining in a town outside of our coverage area, a man came into the restaurant from a pest control service. He was making a scheduled inspection and everything was fine until I left.

As I got near my car, I saw a small mouse outside the side door of the restaurant, trying to find a way in. Since the pest control guy was there anyway, I decided to give him something to do.

I went back in and told him of my discovery. The restaurant employee he was talking to wanted to see it, too, so we all went back outside. The employee commented on how “cute” the mouse was, whereupon the pest control man suggested she turn away.

He quickly dispatched the rodent with his boot, then disposed of the carcass in the back of his truck. When he came back, he said he hated to do that because he’s an animal lover himself. We agreed he really didn’t have much choice in the matter, although I felt a bit guilty for—BAD PUN ALERT!—“ratting out” the mouse in the first place.

And speaking of rats, over the weekend I rediscovered an article I had saved concerning a University of Chicago study on the empathy of rats. In the study, a rat was placed in a cage that could only be opened from the outside. Another rat was placed outside the cage.

Out of 30 rats tested, 23 ignored a nearby treat of chocolate chips to try to rescue the caged rat. Researcher Peggy Mason claimed that showed that rescuing another rat “is as important as eating chocolate.”

Maybe that’s true. Or maybe the caged rat told the potential “rescuer” that it was an experiment and to play along. Actually, I’m still not sure that rodents are that smart. Otherwise, why would a mouse try to get into a restaurant with a pest control truck in the parking lot?

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016