What is the most ethical way to get rid of mice?

Mice are beautiful creatures, says our ethical columnist. If anything, it's human beings that should be 'got rid of'.

Ethan Greenhart

Topics Politics

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Dear Ethan,

We have mice in our house! I need to get rid of them. They keep leaving droppings everywhere, and because I am eco-sensitive kind of guy I just know I will flip out and SCREAM if I see one of the creatures scurrying about! But I don’t want to hurt them. Is there an ethical way to get rid of mice?

Jimmy Westerley

Dear Jimmy,

‘Get rid’ of the mice?! And you call yourself an ‘eco-sensitive kind of guy’!? There is no ethical way to ‘get rid’ of mice because it is a completely unethical thing to do. It is so typical of human arrogance to believe we have the right to usurp mice from their rightful territory – by duping, poisoning, trapping or beheading them – and then claiming their territory as our own. This is further evidence that human ‘homes’ are not the warm, glowing, kettle-on-the-boil peaceful dwellings that soporifically laidback singers like Daniel O’Donnell and other propagandists for the consumerist/catastrophist way of life would have us believe; they are colonial-style impositions on the historic homelands of mice, voles, badgers and various other oppressed minorities.

Jimmy, if you can de-clutter your brain of its culturally-programmed notions of human superiority for just five minutes, then you might like to put yourself in the mouse’s position. (There is a brilliant workshop in a community centre in Highgate called ‘Be The Mouse’ which encourages humans to ‘regress’ – I prefer to call it ‘progress’ – to the mental and physical state of a mouse, by squeaking instead of speaking and getting down on all fours and pooing in the corner of the room.) Imagine how horrendous and hard life is for Mr and Mrs Mouse and their littl’uns! They set up a lovely little nest in ‘your’ home – because we humans have poisoned their home, the countryside – only to be deafened by the sounds of your hoover and TV, overheated by the boiling water that streams through your central heating pipes, and threatened by the constant stamping of your clumpy boots and shoes made from the stolen hides of murdered cows. People claim to be scared of mice, but it’s the mice who exist in a permanent state of staring, wide-eyed terror.

You know what really gets my goat? Aargh, I hate that speciesist phrase! What do we mean my goat? Goats are not ours to own. ‘Get my goat’, ‘a pig in shit’, ‘lazy cow’, ‘sly fox’ – our everyday language, our unthinking libels against animals, betrays our deep-running hatred for the animal kingdom.

Where was I? Oh yes, the thing that most rattles my cage is when people complain about mouse droppings! So a mouse leaves a few odourless, cylindrical droppings here and there, big deal. That is nothing compared with the tonnes of shit that 65million Brits pass every day, which flows from our toilets into massive stinking sewers that are a terrible testament to the wastefulness of human life. How rich is it for a species whose excrement causes real environmental damage to moan about mice poo? Our waste requires an army of carbon-emitting workers to deal with it, only for it to end up floating into the ocean where it literally leaves a skidmark on the planet.

Many a dinner party chez Greenhart has been ruined by mice. No, not by the creatures themselves – they would be more than welcome to join us, only we don’t eat cheese because it’s a dairy product – sorry, mice. Rather, the soirée is spoilt by heated debates about how to deal with mice. Can you believe that friends of mine (well, they’re not my friends any more) think there is such a thing as an ethical way to kill mice?!

We all know that the old-fashioned mousetrap, one of the most foul inventions of the modern era, is an affront to animalkind: an agonising, back-snapping, body-spiking weapon that makes Mme Guillotine seem positively humane. Aargh! Humane – another word I hate! As if anything to do with ‘human’ could possibly be pleasant or merciful! How disgusting of humanity to introduce this alien, manmade implement of torture into the world of the innocent beast, giving rise to a holocaust of broken mice – snapped in two on the altar of human arrogance – and broken mouse families. But, Jimmy, I’m here to tell you that the various ‘ethical’ ways to trap mice are a big no-no, too.

Some people use glue-covered boards to trap the mice. The little bleaters run on to the board and are stuck fast – and you know what happens next? They die a slow and agonising death as they try to chew off their own legs in desperate bid to escape their human kidnappers, the poor dumb bastards.

More green-minded people go for the RADAR – the Rodent Activated Detection and Riddance device. Apparently this is the world’s ‘smartest mouse trap’, but like everything that ‘smart’ humans do – industrialisation, anyone? – it is actually pretty horrific. A mouse enters a specially-made box, duped inside by the promise of food, and then the door shuts behind him. A tiny canister releases carbon dioxide; in 10 seconds the mouse is out cold, and in 60 seconds it is dead. This ‘clever’ device then automatically sends an email to a pest controller to let it know that a mouse has been trapped and ‘painlessly’ killed. Hmmm, a living creature shoved into a chamber and gassed to death… sound familiar?

One friend of mine boasted at a recent BYOL (Bring Your Own Lentils) party that he uses the most humane method to ‘get rid’ of mice. He lays down the Trap Man Humane Mouse Trap, available for £18 from Wiggly Wrigglers, which traps the mouse and even feeds and waters it until the home ‘owner’ comes home and finds it. Then you take the trapped mouse to a field and set it free. Hurrah? Not quite. First of all, what gives humans the right to falsely imprison mice? Second of all, do you know what happens to mice when they are rumbled away from their rightful homes and ditched in a distant field? Yep, they die – and so do the families they leave behind. This would be fine if the little fellas were joined in the great chain of life as food for bigger creatures but many simply starve or are poisoned – how tragic!

Jimmy, you have only two options. First, you may try the Pied Piper Method. This involves using a recorder (made from wood from sustainable forests, otherwise the whole ethical purpose is defeated) to entice the mice to follow you to a safe environment. Me and the kids tried this once: we faced down Sheba’s warnings that the neighbours would think we’re ‘stone mad’ and piped and jigged our way from the front door to a nearby field. Unfortunately, the mice did not follow. Clearly, even a soothing melody cannot overcome their fear and loathing for mankind.

Your second option – and the one I most strongly recommend – is to get rid of yourself. Remove yourself and your family from the house, and let the mice live in peace. This, however, might put a strain on your marriage. When I set up a Mouse Liberation Caravan in our backyard a couple of years ago, and moved the family into it so that the family of mice in our cottage could enjoy their short time on this poisoned mortal coil, Sheba packed her bags and stayed at her mother’s. I can only hope that her comment that ‘I’m not coming back till you kill every single of one of the bastards with a steel trap’ was in the heat of the moment. Nonetheless, temporary separation of man and wife is a small price to pay for the tear-inducing symbolism of handing one’s home over to some of Gaia’s weakest and most defenceless creatures.

In the end, we compromised: we moved back to the cottage and the mice moved into the caravan along with their ratty friends, until someone from the totally misnamed ‘environmental’ health department forced us to get rid of our sanctuary on two wheels.

Never forget, Jimmy, that the ‘pests’ who really need to be controlled are we humans, and the ‘vermin’ who ought to be exterminated are you, me and the other six billion full-time excretors on the planet. Forget mouse traps – we need some man traps. Or maybe, we need some mice. Wasn’t it our dear little friends who helped to spread plagues in centuries gone by? That mouse solidarity and ingenuity, which helped to wipe out a third of the population of Europe during the Black Death, is sorely needed by Nature now.

Ethan Greenhart is here to answer all your questions about ethical living in the twenty-first century. Email him at {encode=”” title=””}. Read his earlier columns here.

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Topics Politics


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