How to catch a mouse

Automated disclaimer: This post was written more than 13 years ago and I may not have looked at it since.

Older posts may not align with who I am today and how I would think or write, and may have been written in reaction to a cultural context that no longer applies. Some of my high school or college posts are just embarrassing. However, I have left them public because I believe in keeping old web pages alive—and it's interesting to see how I've changed.

So today I talked with the Facilities guy who was installing mouse traps in the apartment. He explained what he was doing as he worked:

  • Mice can't be sealed out of older buildings, unlike rats. They're ridiculously tiny, their fur stands straight out (making them look bigger than they are), and their skeletons are flexible. They can get in through the holes where a baseboard heater pipe passes through the wall.
  • The fur stands out (like whiskers) so they can feel the walls and ceilings of the narrow spaces they frequent, like the underside of our baseboard radiators. Even in the dark, they can tell when they've passed a potential side-tunnel.
  • Warfarin, the traditional rat poison, is so passé. Mice have built up a resistance to it, so it has fallen out of favor in the last half-century. With 10-12 generations per year, new rodenticides must always be in development.
  • Mice are neophobes, though not to the same extent as rats. This means that they shy away from new things that appear in a familiar environment, including traps. They're more likely to explore and display curiosity when moving into a novel environment. Therefore, it is essential to keep traps in the building at all times, even if they are empty, broken, or sprung. When the time comes to bait and set, the mice will not fear the traps.

Also, he gets to use a digital borescope, which is excellent.

Responses: 1 so far Feed icon

  1. Marcos Wright Kuhns says:

    Made me think of the This American Life episode titled A Better Mousetrap. It has stories about people trying to come up with better solutions to age-old problems... like how to trap mice.

    Also very interesting about the mice being neophobes.

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