The House Mouse: A Study in Affluence

Last month, we had a mouse. A teeny, cute little mouse – entirely too cute to subject to the cruel fate of a mouse trap.

At first, we’d just hear a rustle here and there, with bits of mouse bedding strewn all over the cupboard and of course, lovely little mouse turds. I could see where he was getting in – a tiny little hole in the back of the cupboard. All I’d have to do is seal it off, maybe with some duct tape, or something stronger if he could chew through that. But, laziness got the better of me – besides, why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

The mouse got bolder, basically taking over the entire cupboard. He was clearly enjoying his new digs. But, the first sign of trouble came when I heard rustling in the cupboard that didn’t instantly scurry away when I approached. In fact, I still heard it when I opened the cupboard to find the culprit. I saw no mouse, but I did see a lone box of long-stale crackers, oscillating back and forth on the shelf. Yes, our little friend had gotten himself stuck in a box of crackers too tall for him to climb back out.

Well, this certainly made the job of mouse disposal more humane. I took the box, went outside, and released him into the yard. Silly me. I’m sure he did a quick risk/benefit analysis: “wide open expanse of yard patrolled regularly by hawks” versus “cozy cupboard full of stale crackers”. He was back within 24 hours. He had moved on from the box of old crackers to a box of ancient pasta, which he dined on every night. (The sound of a mouse eating dry spaghetti is unmistakable. *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *pause* ….. *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *crunch* *pause* …) Sometimes if you opened the cupboard slowly enough, you could see the strands of spaghetti disappearing slowly down into the hole, one at a time, like tree branches into a chipper.

Unfortunately, this paradise of unwanted carbohydrates proved to be his undoing. Just before I was about to finally seal up that hole (no really!), Amanda awoke one morning to find our mouse, laying in the middle of the floor, all four legs pointing straight at the sky. He had moved on to greener pastures.

What killed him? Who knows, maybe old age. My theory? He died of mouse diabetes. A diet of nothing but spaghetti and crackers can’t be healthy. Amanda thinks that he did us a favor and died in the middle of the floor instead of rotting in the back of the cupboard, to repay our kindness (laziness).

The moral of the story is: affluence kills.