Saturday, December 5, 2020

The Mousetrap

We first sensed something odd in our kitchen when we noticed that the top part of a Shabbat roll had been pulled off. Maybe one of our granddaughters had torn the bag open as part of a pre-dinner “I am starving!” tantrum? The next morning, we discovered a damaged section of banana bread.

And then there was a fruit platter left out overnight. Pomegranate seeds were spilled all over the counter. A week later, a purple plum fell to the floor during the night. Maybe someone had bumped into the fruit bowl?

But when we found tiny chewed-up pieces of beet all over the side of the stove, we realized this was no accident. We had had kubbeh soup for dinner, so there were plenty of beets around. One of them, apparently, was left out on the counter and it had been attacked overnight.

The final straw was when we woke up to find that a ripe plum had rolled across the kitchen floor. It was chewed into small little pieces. We had a mouse!

We borrowed a mousetrap and primed it on the kitchen floor before going to bed. First, we tried a piece of yellow cheese. Nothing. And then half a plum. Nothing. A piece of chocolate. Chocolate coated in peanut butter. These all resulted in an empty trap.

Maybe the mouse was gone for good? We went about our normal business. On Friday morning, Jodie stood at the stove preparing chicken soup for Shabbat. She heard something and looked down at the floor. A tail! A very long tail!

The animal escaped into the front room and we set the mousetrap on the floor and closed the door. Suddenly, there was a noise of something falling! I opened the door and entered slowly. One of my daughter’s artworks on canvas had fallen from a small ledge. I put it back in place and closed the door. A short while later, the picture fell again! No sign of a mouse, but we knew it was in there, even though we couldn’t see or hear it.

We kept the door closed all day. When we needed to go into the front room—to take clothes out of the dryer, retrieve a cookbook, get onions, or to check the computer—we entered cautiously, closing the door quickly behind us. We were careful to avoid the mousetrap. Apparently, the mouse was avoiding it as well.

Dinnertime. We sat at the Shabbat dinner table and enjoyed our meal. After dinner, a quick check of the front room to see that the mousetrap was still empty. Dinner dishes washed and put away. Desert served. Family time in the living room. The family left, things quieted down, and we turned on the television.

And then, a noise from the front room.

It was in the trap, pacing back and forth. And it was much bigger than we had imagined, with a very, very long tail. This was no mouse!

“House mice measure 12 to 20 cm in length, including the tail.” On the other hand, “rats may grow to be as long as 40 cm or more and weigh considerably more than mice.”

We had a rat in the house! I found it quite cute, actually—standing in the cage staring at me with its curious eyes. Jodie found it disgusting. “A rat! Get it out of here!”

I put on heavy gloves, covered the cage with rags, and carefully carried it across the street. I bent down, opened the mousetrap, and the creature dashed out and disappeared under the bushes. Maybe the rat would survive. Maybe it would be attacked by the stray cats that hang around the trash barrels. Not my problem. It was on its own!

The rat is gone, our plums and beets are safe. Still, we will not leave Shabbat rolls or banana bread unprotected overnight. Maybe the rat has brothers and sisters.


  1. I side with Jodie. A home is NO place for a rat.

  2. Did you find out how s/he entered your house?

    1. We suspect it was through a hole in the exhaust duct of the clothes dryer. There was a big hole there which we just taped up.