I am a killer

Last night I killed. My victim was unknown to me, but I planned the killing meticulously in advance. Afterwards I disposed of the body in my garden.

It wasn’t the first time I have killed. I will kill again.

My victim was a mouse. A poor little mouse killed by a mousetrap in my kitchen cupboard.

Living in the countryside, we are surrounded by fields. All kinds of creatures share our house – mice, bats, wasps, ladybirds, spiders. Mostly we get on fine, but sometimes the creatures start to become a problem.

Sometimes mice get into our kitchen. These are not the cute white mice children keep as pets. They are brown field mice, ravenous and destructive. They’ll eat anything they can find, whether edible or not. They rip apart plastic wrappers to get at whatever’s inside. They’ve eaten a pair of rubber gloves. They poo relentlessly all over the kitchen. They cannot be allowed into the house.

I’ve tried to stop them. I tried to find out how they are getting into the house, but can’t find any means. Either they already live in the house, underneath the floors, or they use some kind of unfathomable mouselike cunning to gain entry.

The real problem isn’t the mice. That problem is easily fixed by a couple of mousetraps. The problem is my feelings about the mice. I like mice. I want them to live happy, prosperous mousey lives.

But outside. That’s where mice should live. Not in my kitchen.

It’s curious that humans feel like this. Humans have the greatest capacity of all creatures to kill, and yet we’re burdened with guilt about it. Cats don’t have this problem. They just kill, and seem to enjoy it, like psychopaths. Animals don’t feel remorse. Why do people? It’s probably our ability to empathise with others. It requires a sense of self-awareness. A knowledge of our own mortality. Animals live in the moment. We tend to dwell in the past and in the (imagined) future.

So that’s my situation. A problem (rodents in the kitchen) is easily fixed (by a mousetrap) but leads to an even greater problem (guilt-ridden angst). Being human is harder than it looks.

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35 responses to “I am a killer

  1. Expect some serious jail time 🙂

  2. Ha! I feel your pain. In my old home, a drafty, 115 year old Queen Anne Victorian, I had mice and bats. And the fact is that if you see one (or two or three) of those critters, your house probably has a whole lot more. I used mousetraps on the mice, but my daughter got very angry and made me buy “humane” mouse traps. They’re made out of slightly tinted plastic. They lure the mouse inside the elongated plastic cube with cheese or peanut butter or some other mouse-enticing tidbit. An once the mouse goes for the tidbit, a spring-activated plastic door closes shut, trapping the mouse but not injuring it. The idea is that, once trapped, you can transport the mouse to a field and let it go to live another day.

    Then my daughter got her own place and moved out. Sorry, but I reverted back to the regular, neck snapping traps, which were more effective, albeit not at all “humane.” But here in the States we have these “Stand Your Ground” laws that you might have heard of. So I have the law on my side. And, to be honest, when I see all those little mouse turds in my pantry cabinets, I don’t feel any angst whatsoever.

    • We have bats too – around 50 of them live in our attic. Bats are a protected species though, and cause ‘relatively’ little damage.

      • Bats are a protected species? Not around here. We had our attic bat-proofed and set bat traps (sticky things that if they fly into, they’ll get caught). They carry rabies, so they are not protected over here. We did put up a “bat condo” in our backyard, though, once we sealed off our attic.

  3. Ellen Morris Prewitt

    Mouse cunning: I found mouse poo in a covered sugar bowl one time. “Yes,” the exterminator told me, “mouse could’ve lifted the lid on that bowl, had a snack, put the lid back on.” I hate to “take care” of the mice (I’ve swept them into paper bags and released them back into the wild), but not in the kitchen.

  4. What you need is a ‘hunter’ cat. The mice moved out of our flat once we got lady Beatrice. As a 7 week old kitten, she caught a mouse within days of her arrival. The mouse families did not wait for her to mature into an adult cat, they packed their bags and left. None seen since.

  5. We lived on a farm. Mom ran out of cheese for her trap. That night she rubbed a picture of cheese on the last cheese wrapper and set the trap.

    During the night, she stirred at the snap and rattle of a trap. She settled back to sleep.

    Next morning she checked her trap. Success, sort of. In it was a dead mouse picture.

  6. The right cat will likely get rid of the mice AND your feelings of guilt.

  7. Well, I like to think we spare cats the duty of murder … I suppose, if possible, it would be nice if mice stayed in their mice area and we stayed in ours. However, we are determined to intertwine ourselves. We have a small cottage in the French countryside, and while they eat everything and its intestines, they are curiously adverse to killing mice. So, Benoit has taught me to keep everything sealed tightly shut … meaning any mousey meal, and put discouraged owl statues on the concrete by the back door. I know, I know. Yet, somehow, it works. However, it might be a peculiarity of French mice?

  8. I’m right there with ya. We’ve killed some of the little guys here…and I feel horrible about it. Like you, though, we can’t deal with the mice in the kitchen. With all of the fields and crops around our house, it seems that just keeping them out of the house is not an option. 😦

  9. Brilliant opening paragraph there, I was slack jawed!
    I have mousetraps down all year round and still scream when `I catch sight of an unexpected body, then of course when I see mousey outside I’m all ‘hello there cutie”

  10. Good thing there’s no such thing as reincarnation. You would come back as a gnat! (Like the rest of us 🙂 )

  11. My favorite line: “Cats just kill, and seem to enjoy it, like psychopaths.” 🙂

  12. Fan of Dickens

    A friend told me once that she hired a pest controller to persuade her squatters to leave without killing them: seemingly he used some sort of device which emitted a sound only the mice could hear, which repelled them. She didn’t actually see them running away from the house with their little paws over their ears, but they never came back. I know this sounds like some sort of inverse Pied Piper, but she swore it worked. Could solve your moral dilemma!

    • We tried one of those things with moles once. The “silent” device made an annoying high-pitched whistle that nearly drove me mad. Meanwhile the moles loved it and invited their friends over to dig more holes on my lawn.

  13. God, hahaha, you are priceless!!!!!!!

  14. Oh Steve….I would pray to God to forgive you and take you to heaven….really…really..

    loved the blog

  15. You definitely need a good mouser (In case you haven’t heard the term, it refers to a cat that kills mice; not all cats do.) to take care of your little problems. The only trouble is, cats have a tendency to kill mice and leave their bodies laying about. But they do so out of love–they are offering you a meal. 🙂

  16. Reblogged this on W. K. Tucker and commented:
    This one made me evilly chuckle. 🙂

  17. I wonder about people…some are like cats, no remorse. When I was a little girl I threw a hissy fit one day because my mom brought home live crabs and proceeded to rip their legs off one by one to throw into her stew…they were still alive, mind you. I think I deserved to throw a hissy fit on that front, but that’s beside the point, and I didn’t know how to argue for animal rights. So when I had sufficiently grated on her nerves, she said, “Fine, we’ll let one live in the sink. It’ll be your pet.” So there one stayed in the sink. I would wander over there from time to time to catch a glimpse of this horrifying creature, wondering how I would feed it, what it ate, what I would do with it. It ended up dying a slow, meaningless death, scraping along like the line from the T.S. Eliot poem. How’s that for a dose of childhood angst?

    I still feel sorry for the crab. I feel more sorry for the crab who got its legs ripped off with my mom’s bare hands. But they sure were tasty.

    • Thanks for your sad crab story! Makes me wonder where all this compassion comes from. We evolved from predators, why can’t we be like them and just get on with killing and eating? What good did empathy ever do us? Either it helps us to live together as social creatures, or it’s a side effect of our cognitive abilities. I do wonder whether it’s an inevitable aspect of intelligent life, or entirely optional.

      • Heavy questions! Certainly worth a blog post.

        I suspect it’s a very deep and important part of what we are, but I’m not sure what science has to say about that. Maybe they’ll say compassion is a side effect? Who knows.

        Who are we? Featherless bipeds? Or as Nietzsche said, the ‘red-faced’ animal? Hell, you could have an entire blog dedicated to defining who we are.

  18. The other day my cousin killed a few rat babies. He got a rat box which is easy available at a drug store. It has some kind of a coating on it to which the rats stick. I asked him to kill it instead of having them suffer until they eventually die. I understand the conundrum. If you had another choice, you would have not killed it, I know.

  19. I also suffer serious guilt when I have to kill rodents. It’s really awful. My other half got ratsak to kill them, but I don’t like that. I’d much prefer the snappy traps. Quick, not slow and drawn out.

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