Metro-East News

Wally Spiers: Mice are cute, as long as they’re outside

We have a tendency to anthropomorphize, that is, give human attributes to non-human things.

Like those cute talking animals in the Disney films. Gus, the fat little mouse in “Cinderella” is incredibly cute, but in reality Gus is a pest who leaves behind germs and disease and must be kept outside instead of being given a little shirt and the run of the castle.

The humanizing concept extends to most things in our lives, like our cars and kitchen appliances, especially when they don’t work correctly. I know I tend to think my computer is alive, and worse than that, a critic.

I was typing on this column and got about 10 or 12 lines in when I hit some kind of a wrong key combination and erased the entire screen. Since I don’t have any idea whether I have an undo function or even where it might be, I had to start over.

I couldn’t help but think my computer really didn’t like what I was writing. Particularly when I did it several more times. Who made it the editor?

Anyway, it is very difficult to dislike animals when they are so cute. Take the mouse currently living in our cabin on the farm in Missouri.

Minnie, as my wife has taken to calling her, (or it might be Mickey; hard to tell) has the run of the place the long stretches of time when we’re not there, and apparently when we are there as well.

My son, Matthew, was working on the heating stove in the cabin last week. He looked over and the mouse was wandering across the floor, checking out the wood pellets scattered about to see whether they were food.

Last weekend, while Matthew and my wife were sitting on the couch talking, the mouse wandered about freely without any fear.

Rather endearing, but in reality, the little dude or dudette is leaving behind all kinds of mouse droppings, which really won’t do.

Often on farms the means of controlling rodents in outbuildings is poison, but that isn’t an option. We don’t want a rotting mouse underneath the kitchen cabinets. Conventional traps kill quickly but seem mean for such a cute little mouse.

So probably I will need to buy a humane live trap and relocate this stupid mouse outside. Then I have to seal the cabin well enough that he or his kin can’t get in again.

It could be worse. I saw a video in which singer James Taylor devised a live trap to catch a mouse in the basement of his New England home. Then he felt guilty and bought a large mouse house so the mouse would have a home.

I may be a sentimental sap but Minnie, or Mickey, is going back to the wild if I ever catch her, or him.

I can only hope he or she hasn’t invited relatives to spend the winter while we’re back in Belleville.