The Mousetrap

It was late in the night when I heard the distinctive ‘snap’ from the kitchen. I had been debating, until I heard that sound, whether I should just get up and throw the infernal device into the garbage. It would have been so easy to get rid of. But now the thing was done.

Baiting the mousetrap with a large hunk of cheese, I snapped myself twice and was surprised that the force of the spring felt so weak. My briefly-imprisoned finger retained only a faint shadow of red where the metal bar had caught it. I worried that the mouse eating the cheese would not fully die, and that I would hear its pitiful death throes into the night.

But when the ‘snap’ finally came, there was no sound. In the morning, I opened the door of the cupboard to see a long grey tail snaking away into the shadows where I had left the mousetrap on the previous evening. I recalled the skittering sound of little mice feet running through the walls of my old apartment building; I thought of the brief movement I had seen out of the corner of my eyes as the small creature ran for cover in the kitchen.

I cried as I moved the stiff corpse of the mouse from the cupboard and tossed it, mousetrap and all, into the garbage. It seemed a silly thing for me to do, to kill this animal. I saw no purpose to its death – there would be many other mice living in the walls of this house, who would not harm me save for the track of their feet through my cupboards.

Certain creatures – such as cats or dogs – have taken on greater value to us as humans through their long association with us as pets. When I saw the small and vulnerable mouse in its place under my cupboard, I couldn’t fathom a reason why this creature shouldn’t also have value. Did it not gambol with its fellow mice, find pleasure in cheese, and seek to reproduce? My collusion in placing a tempting piece of food on a spring-loaded trap intended to kill seemed a harsh allegory of life.

There are many ways to live in harmony with house mice. And I think that starting with kindnesses to these little creatures could lead to other, greater kindnesses to all organisms constituting the complex web of Earth’s ecosystems, as detailed by the tenets of deep ecology. Either way, that’s the last time that I’ll be baiting and setting a mousetrap.

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