Worth a Thousand Words: Of mice and  a man

For the better part of this winter, I have had an uninvited guest in my apartment. He is actually very quiet. He will usually disappear as soon as he spots me enter a room. In fact, I’ve only caught brief glimpses of him darting away.

If you haven’t figured it out, my guest is a mouse. Now, you might be thinking what is so unusual about this to warrant space in this column? After all, I, like everyone else, lives in rural Minnesota. And things like a mouse moving in during the colder winter months is far from a unique situation. I agree. This certainly isn’t the first winter I’ve had a guest.

But I have a somewhat unique attitude towards them. As much as it might make some people shudder, I usually pretty much let them be. For some reason, they haven’t been able to make their way onto my counter, nor have they managed to get into my food cabinet. The only thing they have done is get into something I absent-mindedly leave laying around like a plate or bag of chips with crumbs on or in it.

Another thing is that, I’m sorry, but those little guys are darn cute. I am definitely an animal lover, and I’ve always been hesitant to kill any sort of animals (with the exception of bats who get inside, but that’s a whole other, long story). Anyway, whenever one of those mice have encroached a little closer than is comfortable, I’ve used a live trap and then released the little guy(s) out into a wooded area a block or so from my place for the little guy(s) to make into their new home.

In this case, though, I dropped my live trap a while ago and never bothered to replace it. So, I’ve just been letting the little guy make himself at home, as long as he didn’t get too comfortable. 

As it turned out, I didn’t need to buy a live trap. The other night, as I was watching TV, I suddenly heard some sort of scratching sound coming from my kitchen. Recognizing it as the little guy scrounging somewhere, I got up to see if I could catch him in the act. While I didn’t see him right away, I could still hear him, so I followed the noise until I realized it was coming from my recycling garbage can, which I had recently emptied. Apparently, the little guy had fallen into it and was desperately trying to get back out.

Now, I’m not that foolish to not take advantage of him trapping himself, so I covered the top of the can, got dressed and proceeded to walk the can, with the mouse still in it, outside. But I also must admit that I did have a twinge of guilt in doing so. Unlike other years when I trapped the mice in the fall, this little guy was being released out into the sub-zero degree night. 

As I turned the can over and the little guy made a hasty dash away, I kept an eye on him, half expecting the shock of the cold and snow would stop him in his tracks. But it didn’t. After a short distance he stopped, turned, and scampered up a pile of snow and disappeared. 

So, I quickly retreated back into the warmth of my apartment, secure in the knowledge that he still had a fighting chance of living a long, healthy life, just not in my house. Sure, he might get eaten by an owl or some other predator, but at least his blood wouldn’t be on my hands. That’s just survival of the fittest.

Bill Stickels III is editor of the Isanti-Chisago County Star. He can be reached at 763-689-1181 ext. 107 or editor@countystar.com. 

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