Home & Design

Green Acre #164: A Case of Entrapment

Tallulah and friend. / Photo illustration by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

WARNING: Mice ahead. 

The Prince appears to have reached an impasse with the raccoon so now he’s gone to war with my mouse. 

I call him mine because anything that goes wrong around here, and apparently it is very wrong to give shelter and the occasional crumb of sustenance to a mouse, is ultimately my fault. Or so I’m told. While some in this household (me, for instance) never assess blame, others do. As there are only two of us in residence, I’ll let you deduce or deduct or whatnot. 

Though . . . in this case . . . it’s possible . . .

There are four glue traps in the living room and another four in the dining room. There is also one of those mouse hotels, cardboard boxes with something lethal inside. The mouse is supposed to go inside and die. (Design-wise, these leave a lot to be desired. I, for one, wouldn’t be tempted to enter anything so shoddy and unappealing). 

These are the visible traps. I’m sure there are others. There are always others. The Prince knows I consider glue traps the worst form of torture and will throw them away. So he’s trying to fool me by leaving a few out, meanwhile sniggering inside his little brain: “Heh, heh. She thinks she’s gotten rid of them, I’ll show her.”

Meanwhile, the current resident mouse is getting the better of him. We chuckle about this, the mouse and I. 


I had a mouse as a child, I was maybe 8. I don’t remember his (or her) name. I do remember standing at the bathroom sink, deciding it would be nice if he (or she) smelled like Arpège, my older sister’s scent of choice. This did not come out well. The mouse . . . expired. 

My second mouse, Willie, was the pal of my teens. Living in a New York apartment, the pet choices were limited. No one wanted to walk a dog. 

Willie lived in a cardboard box on the floor beside my bed. His particular toy was a small brown paper bag that he’d stand on, wriggling his nose like a tiny puppy when he sensed me around. I’d take him out and we’d chat and so on. When I was out, he’d sometimes chew a corner of the box sufficient in size to escape and frolic around the bedroom floor, then hide in the closet inside a shoe. My mother did not care for him, but she was tolerant. My father had no opinion. 

His sisters, Bea, Ruthie and Mil, would sometimes visit. Though not triplets, they were identical in size and shape, scarcely five feet tall in heels, with button noses, nice legs and little round bodies. They wore their hair in identical short curls, only the color differed: blond Bea, red Ruthie and salt-and-pepper Mil. This was pretty much how you could tell them apart. They’d sit on the living room sofa in a line, little legs dangling, and I’d bring Willie out to say hi. This never went over well. 

Returning to the subject at hand. 

While we were out of town last weekend—and unbeknownst to me—the Prince had deployed traps on the arms of the living room sofa and one rather large one on the middle seat cushion. 

We came home and I observed that the traps were undisturbed but there was a little dropping, delicately positioned on the sofa back. Just one. As if to say, “Point made, buddy?”

He’s a bold little thing, this mouse. Strolls about the living room searching for crumbs while we’re watching TV. We wink at each other. But either the Prince is oblivious or he’s too enraptured by another rerun of Sherlock or “Midsomer Murders” to notice.

I suspect he, at heart, has mixed feelings. 

Last year when Tallulah, our granddog, was visiting, he took her to the park for her night romp. She was chasing the tennis ball for the 400th time when he noticed she’d frozen in her tracks, back rigid, hair standing on end. Wandering over, he saw a field mouse, a tiny gray thing, like the one in our living room, reared on his hind legs with paws posed pugilistically, as if to say, “You wanna fight, Dog?” And Lu, bless her 65-pound soul, backed away very slowly. 

All of which My Prince gleefully described when he got home. He even confessed a fondness for that gutsy little mouse, and I sensed a yearning to have him as a . . . pet? 

Have I mentioned that earlier this summer I saw a sign on a lawn in Rehoboth Beach, “Please do not empty your dog here”? This was so wonderfully polite. And neither here nor there,  

Several years ago I wrote about our little mouse problem, or is it a problem with our little mice? They seem to have no problems, except us. Anyway. I included directions for freeing a mouse from a glue trap, which I wrote about so well that I do not see the need to rewrite and will just recount: 

 All you need to do is coat the mouse and the trap with a little oil, being careful not to drown the mouse, “NEVER USE ANY KIND OF PETROLEUM, SYNTHETIC OR LUBRICATING OIL . . . and do not submerge the mouse’s mouth and nose in the oil,” the instructions stress. I love instructions.

If the mouse has gotten really stuck, you may have to poke it a bit, but use something well padded because he or she is probably pissed off—even if you had nothing to do with its predicament—and might nip.

Now place the oily mouse on its oily trap into a plastic container with a lid and “lock it down” because the mouse will work its way free in a few minutes and leap for the safety of behind the stove.

They suggest driving the mouse to a place far away, at least a mile, otherwise it will come right back. A fairly ridiculous suggestion in the middle of a city.

Personally, I would make the gesture of releasing it into the garden* where it might consider partaking of the hospitality of one of our neighbors. I might even point out a promising direction or two.


—Stephanie Cavanaugh

* See how cleverly I managed to insert the garden into this column, which is theoretically about gardening? 

LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” does not restrict herself to writing about flora. Sometimes the subject is fauna.

4 thoughts on “Green Acre #164: A Case of Entrapment

  1. Bonnie Mitchell says:

    You watch Midsomer Murders too?

  2. Jacqui: uh. I have? it works. The traps ARE inhumane HORRIBLE… and a constant argument around here (clearly).

  3. Maggie Hall says:

    Photo-shopping at its best! Though, have to confess, took me a while to realise not “real”….it isn’t, is it? So well done.

  4. Jacqui Michel says:

    Glue traps?! Have you seen a mouse tear of an appendage trying to get off? Not nice. Who is going to gently use oil to remove a mouse? Most people lose it when they see one.

    Advocating this route of removal is optimistic at best, and inhumane as a matter of course.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *