I have generally found the process of trapping vermin to be repugnant, but what happened tonight seems to demand that I bear witness: A rat trap set under my kitchen sink caught two small rats across the neck in one stroke. Is this as unusual as it appears?
RATS?! Oh my god that gave me the willards.
Actually we did have a rat in my house once, growing up. A big giant sewer rat. My mom saw it in the bathroom closet. We had heard scratching and thought we had a cute little mousie. Opened the door one day and there was a nightmare with black beady eyes sitting on the towel shelf. Mom screamed and slammed the door shut and called an exterminator. We didn’t open that door again for 6 months. We had to buy all new towels, shampoo, etc. The exterminator put out poison and traps in various places.
When we did open the door, guess what was inside on the towels? A glue trap with a 7" long tail still attached to it. Gnawed off at the base. No rat.
Um anyway two at a time seems unusual to me.
Sometimes the rat race ends in a tie.*
But, no, the event you describe, unlike political assassination, walking on the moon, defying a tank in Tianenmen Square, and all the myriad small and hidden cruelties endured by the blameless, and the host of minor kindnesses offered others by those who can’t really afford it themselves, does not call for a witness to bear the tale. It calls instead for a pair of tongs and a Hefty™ bag.
* Aren’t you glad I didn’t say “dead heat?”
I strongly considered breaking out my ancient digital camera and spending ten minutes getting it working before disposing of the pair of unfortunate rodents, but I decided against it as being unredeemably morbid.
My theory is this: It was a big trap, and they were small rats. The bait was pure almond butter, applied to the bait hook a week ago. One of the little rats climbing onto the trap to get at the butter wasn’t enough to trigger the trap; when the second one showed up to get his share, the bough broke.
My father loves to tell this story:
When my parents were newly married, they lived in a mouse-infested rental house. One winter evening, as my dad was going to bed, he heard one of their mousetraps snap shut. He took out the dead mouse, but he didn’t want to step outside in his bare feet to put it in the trashcan, so he just laid it down beside the trap. He reset the trap, and went to bed. Mom was already asleep.
My mom got up first the next morning, and began hollering for my dad. He rushed into the other room to see my mom pointing at the trap. It had caught another mouse during the night, so there was a dead mouse in the trap, and a dead mouse laying next to the trap.
Mom was horrified. “Do you SEE this?” she demanded.
Dad was confused. “Yes. What about it?”
Mom said, “Don’t you see what happened? These two little mice were playing here, and one got caught by the trap. The other mouse was so shocked and so sad that he had a heart attack and died!”
They were probably out on a rat date.
“Do you want to stop here and get a bite to eat, sugar puff?”
“Ooooo, that’s sounds divine! What do they serve here, snuggle muffin?”
“Looks like almond butter … your favorite!”
“It’s our lucky night! Oh, I love you sooooo much … .”
Once my dad found a dead mouse and showed it to us as he took it to throw outside. He had it by the tail and his arm was hanging down by his side. This was just too much temptation for our cat. She batted it out his hand while his head was turned. He damn near soiled himself when he felt the mouse “jump” in his hand.
As for the OP, it was obviously a murder-suicide.
I’m reminded of the Fairy Tale about the tailor bragging “Seven with one Blow!*”
*(I’m almost scared of the porn-links that might follow this post)
Wish me luck, Strain of Thought.
Even as we speak, I have three (supposedly non-lethal) mouse traps arrayed around my kitchen. May the gods of rodent removal smile upon my endeavors as they clearly smiled upon yours.
I’m worried that if the mice manage to trigger the no-kill traps without getting caught, the big “snap!” will scare them sufficiently that they’ll stay away from the bait if I am forced to bring out the “big guns” later. I could never bring myself to use glue traps, and poison is out of the question, too, as I have pets. (My kitty is too old and frail to do the job, although he was a mighty rodent slaughterer in his day.)
A friend of mine caught a tomato in a mousetrap once…
Imagine his surprise when he went to the garage to find the trap sprung and a tomato squished in it’s vice-like grip.
We’re guessing that the mouse knocked the tomato off of the shelf above but it still makes me tease him about his killer tomatoes.
UPDATE: Success! But at what a cost.
All three of my traps have already “borne fruit” of the grey and furry variety. I woke up 15 minutes ago to the sound of scrabbling in my kitchen. My extremely geriatric kitty was positioned in full kitty-stalking mode on the kitchen floor, having heard said scrabbling, and having determined that it might indicate the presence of mousie prey, but apparently NOT having figured out exactly where it was coming from. (Be kind, he is very, very old and not at all well, so I give him big points for having made the effort.) About seven feet away from the cat was Exhibit 1, a live mousie who was NOT trapped humanely inside the mousetrap, but was caught by the (probably broken) feet and trying desperately to escape, poor sod. Exhibits 2 and 3 were dead mousies whose heads were inside their respective “non-lethal” traps, and whose bodies were outside, they having presumably suffocated to death because the traps had come down over their necks. (I would like to think their necks were broken, but I doubt it.) The score: two tortured to death, one terrified and presumably maimed and left to die slowly in the woods (I drove him a little way away before I dumped him, just in case he was still mobile, but I couldn’t see if he managed to pick himself up and leave after I let him out of the trap because it was dark and because, frankly, I didn’t want to face the fact that he probably couldn’t because I didn’t have the guts to “finish the job.”)
REAL )(*&^%$#@! humane, that.
I must admit that a cursory inspection of the traps at the store had led me to fear an outcome very similar to this, as the traps were so small that it was obvious that all but the tiniest mice could probably reach inside for the peanut butter rather than climbing on in, putting their necks directly on the firing line, but it was ten minutes to closing at Home Depot and I had been startled into shrieking like a cartoon elephant not an hour earlier by the sight of a mouse running out of my oven and right past me, so something had to be done.
I am totally creeped out now because the unexpected bounty of my catch forces me to conclude that there are plenty more where those came from, and although I am not going to put the traps back out tonight, I have to decide whether to use them again or get the old fashioned “wire snapped across the neck” variety, which are probably kinder in the long run.
Well dang, Tenar. I’m sorry you had to go through that.
I’d extend my condolences to the mice as well, but they’re not capable of comprehending them, or any other form of human communication, which is why they must be removed from houses by such harsh measures. (I know this for certain because my mother used to scream “Get out of my house!” at the ceilings and walls whenever she heard her rats scrambling around, and it never convinced them to leave and spare themselves from the spring-loaded bar.)
You’re right to stay the hell away from glue traps; those never end well. In my limited experience with humane traps, I’ve found that a good one is many times larger than what you’re trying to catch within it, and not terribly sensitive: it should only go off when the animal to be trapped is in the correct position, and therefore if the animal doesn’t completely enter a good humane trap, the trap just doesn’t go off. Any type of trap triggering improperly has the potential to cause a great deal of pain and suffering, regardless of how humane it’s intended to be.
I haven’t made the effort to use humane traps myself because using them properly takes more patience and technique than I have the energy for; but if you’re determined to go the humane route, one type of trap I’ve always been curious to try is a bucket trap. They can be tricky to set up, but they don’t have the costs associated with buying a fancy cage, and if you set them up right it’s very difficult for the mouse to be accidentally tortured to death.
Here are some variations on bucket trap design I skimmed from the top of a Google search:
One particularly simple and interesting design can be found here, with accompanying video of it in action:
There are many, many more ways to build bucket traps; the only common element of all of them is that the mouse is coaxed into entering a large container from above, which they are then trapped within more by gravity than by any fallible closing mechanism. The humanity of a bucket trap varies with what you place at its bottom, which can be anything from bedding, food, and toys to an extremely angry cat.
Bucket traps can be scaled up for rats, but it’s a pain, and what I have is mostly rats; hence my not having tried them personally. The container used has to have smooth, steep walls to prevent climbing, be heavy enough that it can’t be knocked over by the occupant, resist chewing long enough for you to empty it, and be tall enough that whatever is in there can’t just jump out. (Mice can JUMP!) There are various ways of improving a container’s ability to withstand these tests; look around. A 5-gallon bucket from Home Depot fits the bill perfectly for mice, and a galvanized trashcan works well for rats, but generally rats are smarter than mice, and realize beforehand that they may end up in the trap with no way out.
Bucket traps aside, a traditional spring-loaded trap is economical, reliable, and reasonably humane. However, even a quality made, appropriately sized, properly set spring trap may sometimes leave you with something which is not yet dead but clearly cannot be taken into the woods merely to finish dying. If this happens, quickly find a bucket and fill it with warm water. Wrap your hands in a few layers of old grocery bags, scoop up the animal and the trap together, and hold the animal beneath the water until several seconds after it completely stops moving. Please, please do not do like some people and place the animal in an empty bucket before pouring water over it, or god forbid, drop it into the full bucket and wait for it to stop trying to swim. Whether or not this measure is called for is up to you to decide; if the mouse is just caught by the tail, it might still stand half a chance if you released it, whereas even a relatively ‘clean’ kill can leave the body twitching for several seconds, and drowning won’t speed things up all that much. Be aware that an injured animal- especially a large rat- can drag a spring trap away. There’s not much you can do about it except nail your traps to something heavy, and that presents problems with disposal. But if your trap goes missing, that’s likely what happened.