Brian Arsenault Takes On : “Of Mice and Birds”

By Brian Arsenault
So we were getting ready to leave what used to be our summer “camp” on the island but is becoming home for more and more of the year. And the last two things I did was to set mousetraps and fill the bird feeders.

Which directly posed the question why do we kill some species and try to help others. The most obvious answer in this case is that the birds, the jays and chicadees and cardinals at least, are beautiful and the mice are vermin.

But aren’t mice kind of cute in their own right or why Jerry, the classic cartoon hero or sadist of Tom & Jerry. My god what about Mickey. And a whole host of cuddly mices from cartoons and story books.
Rats I get, they look slimy hairless and those long tails, ewwwwwwwwww. But little brown or gray mice with those little pink ears. Not so bad.

Of course they have that hairless snake like tail also. It detracts certainly. But death sentences. Really?

Of course they’re pests, right. Leave little mouse turds everywhere. Carry disease bearing fleas and ticks and god knows what. Fleas from rats carried THE BLACK PLAGUE, right? Well, the mice fleas can’t have been any better, right.

But still, I don’t think that’s it. Plague fears are just the reason we give.
I think we bear trap mice because they want to live amongst us. We don’t want them scurrying across the floor at night. Or staring from the corner with those beady little eyes. Or waiting for us on the toilet seat in the dark when our eyes are only half open.

The dark of night. We’re afraid of the dark. It’s instinctual. For most of man’s existence it’s been a very dangerous place. Prowling creatures that wanted to eat you. Malevolent spirits, we thought. If you can’t see it, be afraid.

In much of the world, nighttime is still scary for a variety of reasons. Anyway, we’re afraid.

Walk into a familiar dark room and first turn on a light even if you could walk around the room with your eyes closed.

Beyond fear or due to it, we don’t want to share our space. Tribes pushed and pulled over boundaries before the idea of a country ever even popped up.

If we have trouble sharing with other people, family comes to mind. Why would we share on an interspecies basis. Oh, cats and dogs are all right. Cats kill mice and dogs think we are god. Anyone can get used to that.

The mice don’t even recognize that it’s our space. They act like they own it. They eat whatever they find. They shit all over the place and they are most awake when we are asleep. Talk about being creeped out.

So every snap in the night. Every death squeal. Every slightly gory find in the morning means we’ve won. We’ve defended the castle. Repelled the invaders. Staked our claim.

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To read more reviews, essays and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE.

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