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Possumhaw: Hanging by a thread


Shannon Bardwell



Saturday a ghastly thing happened at the Prairie house. While Sam was gone fishing I discovered a mouse clinging to the Big Tom sticky trap. I have vowed time and time again not to use those cruel traps, however successful they are. The little critter was hanging by his back legs and tail. The rest of him had managed to reach a basket sitting nearby where he had gnawed pieces of wicker on himself. He trembled at the sight of me. 


My thoughts went to the time we had guests in the house, maybe 20 or so. My stepdaughter was sitting directly across the room from me when a mouse skittered from under the oven, across the kitchen floor, and under the kitchen cabinet. Our eyes widened ever so slightly as we locked on one another. It appeared as if no one else noticed the mouse. Since then I have made every effort to keep mice out of the Prairie house, as hard as that might be. You would think the cat sleeping on the couch would do the trick, but not. 


It's so unlike me to want to kill anything as I save birds, fish, ducks, cats, rabbits, even ladybugs. I don't kill snakes unless they are threatening one of the above. I did shoot a beaver and a nutria once, but a mouse is not threatening. He just needs to be outside of the house. With that, I grabbed the trap with the mouse clinging to the edge and took him just outside the door. The decision had to be made whether to chunk him in the garbage can or save his little brown furry life. I decided to save him. 


I collected a throwaway knife and a pair of scissors and stepped outside the door. The cat was watching through the glass. Fine help he was. 


Animals know when they are in trouble and when you are trying to help them. With the knife, I began to separate the tiny leg from the glue stronghold. One leg came off the trap. The mouse twisted himself around like a ballerina. Eventually I separated the other leg and heard a tiny squeak, like "Ouch." I proceeded to the thread of a tail. Well, better the loss of a bit of tail, I snipped it and the mouse scurried away, as fast as you can scurry with glue on your legs. 


I thought to find a murderless mousetrap as soon as possible. I did hear of Kevin, who went to a pet store and asked for mousetraps. The salesman said with horror, "This is a pet store."  


So I called a local hardware store. Though I hoped to be anonymous, he had caller ID. He said he didn't have any murderless traps. He said most people don't want to catch mice live, though that's not exactly how he said it. He was very nice and offered some suggestions, but "live" wasn't one of them. He wished to be anonymous.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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