How NOT to Catch a Mouse
I was very disappointed when I saw the October 2010 issue of Men’s Health Magazine. In their How to Do Everything Better column was an article entitled “Catch A Mouse—Alive!” p. 84. The article describes in cartoon column fashion how to use pencils, peanut butter, packing tape, section of cardboard, and a bowl to capture a mouse.
Whether the technique works or not, I don’t know. My hunch is that its efficacy is at best subject to numerous misfires. The problem with the article lies in its suggestion to translocate the mouse 100 feet away from the house. While such advice is to be expected from the advisor (a PETA member), no mention was made regarding the likely trauma would be experienced by the mouse that has just been transported away from its winter cache. The suggestion to release the mouse is another example of “feel good” advice trumping true compassion. You may think that a chance of survival beats a certain death sentence but evidence from the translocation of other species strongly suggests that translocation of mice is actually quite cruel (consult Being Kind to Animal Pests for details).
Whether you are convinced or not about the humanness of mouse-translocation, the environmental argument is unquestionable. House mice (Mus musculus) is an invasive species in the U.S.. House mice were not original inhabitants of the country and their introduction (likely accidental) is detrimental to human-health and safety as well as native species. House mice should never be moved; they should be killed. They don’t belong in the U.S. House mice are responsible for significant damage to crops and structures. On islands, their impact is more noticeable (at least it has been studied more) is also significant.
Hopefully in the future, the editors of Men’s Health will provide scientifically and environmentally sound advice to their readers rather than the stooping to the desires of sentimentality; nature deserves better treatment. Just as you don’t give cotton candy to a kid just because it will make him feel good, we shouldn’t translocate house mice. After all someone has to be the adult.
Resources to Consult
- Environmental and Economic Costs of Nonindigenous Species in the United States Author(s): David Pimentel, Lori Lach, Rodolfo Zuniga, Doug MorrisonSource: BioScience, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 53-65Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological SciencesStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1313688Accessed: 18/10/2010 22:24. Article describes house mice as invasive.
- Mice, Rats, and People: The Bio-Economics of Agricultural Rodent Pests Author(s): Nils Chr Stenseth, Herwig Leirs, Anders Skonhoft, Stephen A. Davis, Roger P. Pech, Harry P. Andreassen, Grant R. Singleton, Mauricio Lima, Robert S. Machang’u, Rhodes H. Makundi, Zhibin Zhang, Peter R. Brown, Dazhao Shi, Xinrong Wan Source: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Vol. 1, No. 7 (Sep., 2003), pp. 367-37. Published by: Ecological Society of America. Paper discusses impacts and ways to improve control of a variety of species for S.E. Asia.
- House Mouse by Robert Timm in Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage. Editors, Scott E. Hygnstrom, Robert M. Timm, Gary E. Larson. 1994. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2 vols.Article provides a quick review of damage to both crops and human structures.