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Catching mice; relative cruelty of different methods:

Although mice are vermin, and you must get rid of them rather than have your home infested with mice, there is a curious ethical issue: If you're going to catch mice or kill mice, it's worth considering the relative cruelty of different ways of catching mice so as to minimise suffering.a dead mouse

Ideally you want to get rid of all of the mice, but preferably with a minimum of cruelty to the mice.

* Snap-shut mousetraps of various types are one of the most humane methods of killing mice. The mouse finds a piece of delicious food (bait), goes along to sniff it, and the mousetrap kills the mouse with a swift blow to the back of the neck, breaking the spinal cord. Usually the mouse is killed so quickly that it doesn't have time to close its eyes. (The legs may twitch a bit, but that is the death-throes, and not because the mouse is alive).

* Glue Traps. These are unnecessarily cruel and should be avoided. If you discover a glue trap with a live mouse in it, some mercy can be shown by applying a relatively quick death such as squashing with a heavy weight, drowning, or asphyxiant gas. Also see note at the end of this page.

* Live-capture "humane mouse traps". Although the idea of Humane mousetraps is well-meaning, catching mice without killing them, you must check the traps twice a day. Failure to do this may result in a mouse dying horribly, of starvation, thirst, and in an appalling condition.

Having caught a live mouse, you can either kill it humanely yourself (hypoxia with inert gas is quite good), or release it "into the wild". You must take the mouse at least a mile from your house or it might conceivably find its way back.

a baby mouseA released mouse in a fit state of health will scamper off into the distance, at a speed of about 8MPH, leaping and bounding in an astonishing way. If it's a mile away from your house, it won't be coming back. However, the mouse will have to take its chances "in the wild" and will sooner or later die of one of a number of things which are natural hazards.

* Cats. As pets they are cute furry things, but from a mouse perspective, a cat is a tiger. Cats, or at least cats that are good mouse-catchers, are very efficient at catching mice. Cats kill mice, and that's what matters. However, the level of cruelty is not something that bothers cats at all. The mouse is typically eaten alive, which by anyone's reckoning isn't nice. However, with luck, the mouse is dead within minutes, which is a small mercy. Different cats have different techniques in their favourite methods of killing mice, and some cat owners have told of the terrible squeaking and squealing from a mouse being killed by a cat. Other cat owners say their cat's mouse-catching produced no squeaks at all.

* Nature. In whatever way you look at it, mice die, one way or another. Generally it's by some means which is unpleasant. Cats and other predators do kill mice, and that is natural. Nature is cruel.

In terms of minimising the amount of cruelty to mice, the most important thing is to kill all of the mice, by whatever method, as fast a possible. If you don't, the mice will breed, and then a huge number of mice will be alive and have to die by some method or other. So, for maximum mercy, slay those mice!

Note: Glue traps are also indiscriminate and will trap all types of animals. If you want to rescue a trapped animal, the recommended method is to dissolve the glue in vegetable oil or warm water, but without drowning the animal and without you getting bitten.