A Live Mouse Trap

If you can't bring yourself to kill the little varmints, the live mouse trap described here will allow you to capture and remove them far from your home.

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    A group of mice the author easily captured one night in his live mouse trap.

  • 065 live mouse trap2

Now, I don't have much against common field mice—as rodents go, they're timid, relatively harmless, and even quite cute—but my wife Della finds them somewhat unnerving ... ever since a pair of the pests scampered across her feet as she picked potatoes from our patch.

In fact, that particular summer, during which a drought prevented new mouse-sheltering growth in the hayfield, we found our thickly mulched orchard and straw-covered spud patch infested with those pesky varmints.

I'm sure the little animals had a grand time tunneling intricate mazes of mouse highways in our mulch, gnawing the bark off our young saplings, and taking nibbles out of each potato they ran across. My wife, however, adamantly refused to cook spuds that sported even the slightest tiny tooth scar. I tried to explain that she merely had to trim around the bite and the potato would be good as new ... but the argument failed to convince her. I reasoned again, "None of our cats ever got sick from eating mice, so how can a mouse-chewed spud hurt anybody?"

She didn't go for that piece of logic, either. "I'm not a cat," was her only reply.

Now Della and I aren't fond of killing animals, but the potato problem soon reached the point where something had to be done. I tried ordinary mousetraps ... but managed only to bruise the noses of several neighborhood dogs and cats, and the surprised pets howled their indignation day and night.

There must be a way, I decided, to catch my mice without disturbing other critters. Then I recalled a live mouse trap setup I'd used as a child on my family's farm in Illinois. The device consisted of little more than one of the copper tubs that were commonly employed—in those days—to launder clothes.

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