Susie Madrak talks about killing mice—read it for the denouement. I’ll share my first experience with killing mice, but I’ll keep it below the fold for the squeamish.
I’d grown up familiar with mouse and rat traps, but it was my father who was in charge of setting them and taking out the little corpses. I didn’t have to do any of that until I got to college, and then I did it on a massive scale.
I was a lackey in a lab looking at brain histology. That meant I got to collect the raw material, and my boss showed me the ropes.
“First, you catch the mouse. Then, you hold it near the edge of the table with your thumb and forefinger just behind the ears. Give the tail a swift, firm tug and snap, the neck breaks, you’ve got a dead mouse.”
With a little practice, I mastered that. Sometimes I’d tug too hard, and the tail would rip out—but the mouse’s neck would still be broken, so it didn’t notice. Once the mouse was dead, though, I had to extract the brain…with a pair of pliers.
My boss was extremely good at it. Grip the snout just so, twist and tear, and the front of the skull was ripped off. Peel the cranium back and to the sides, and there was the bloody pink brain, exposed and resting on the pedestal of the basicranium. Scoop it off and plop it into a container of fixative, and you were done in about 30 seconds. Next!
I was never quite that fast, but I still got the whole process up to a reasonable speed. I had to—I slaughtered a lot of mice that year.
So I guess I’m not too squeamish about killing mice, but still…I think glue traps are evil. That’s slow, frightening, squirming death, where the poor beastie is left to suffer for far too long. I think all they do is spare the executioner the sight of blood.