Spiders and Mice

Garden spider hanging above our front door

Garden spider hanging above our front door

“There’s a mouse in the kitchen”, Josh proclaimed one evening last week.  I turned to see a tiny gray rodent scamper under my beloved oven.  I shrieked, curses and jumped up (on my good leg).  In a frenzy, I headed for the car, forgetting my crutches, to go purchase some mouse traps.  Upon returning,  I set the mouse traps in various places around the kitchen and went to bed with the creeps.

I pondered, while I was laying there jumping every time one of Leif’s limbs brushed me, why it is that a tiny little mouse in my kitchen freaks me out so much.  I went through the same self talk I’ve gone through many times before when I have discovered critters in my home (cockroaches in South Africa, spiders and rats in Asia/India, and of course mice in Tacoma)–“Many people live with critters in their home and are just fine…The likely hood of it biting you or Leif is very slim…It is more afraid of you that you are of it…and on and on.  I checked the traps several times a day for the next couple of days–empty each time.

On Friday, Leif, Sochi, and I headed to the beach house with my parents.  It was a very relaxing and rodent free weekend. We returned Sunday to find a dead mouse in one of the traps.  I yelped, “I’ve murdered a mouse!!!” I truly felt horrible.  I imagined the tiny little mouse sniffing out the delicious peanut butter I had placed on the trap and thinking it was in for a wonderful treat…and then SNAP!  Broken spine. I realize I set the trap and that a dead mouse was the outcome I was seeking with such a trap.  But I still felt wretched.  I do not want mice in my home–mainly because I do not want them to destroy our home, cause an electrical fire, or poop in our food.  I think I would never sleep again if I ever found one in our bed.  But I also do not feel okay with killing them.  Do I expect everyone to feel the same?  No.  But for me, it seems hypocritical (for myself) to pick and choose which animals I’m okay with killing.  Yes, it is true that mice can cause damage and present some health risks, but I want to give this catch and release thing a try before I go about breaking any more spines.

This is the same for spiders.  I admit, I have smashed some spiders in my day.  In India, Josh and I spent a good amount of time battling a spider that might as well have been a small child.  Just a couple weeks ago, I smashed a spider in our basement that looked particularly menacing and I was in a pretty dark mood–and yet I cried after because I knew that I had killed the spider mostly out of my own grumpy spirit.

It is the time of year in the Pacific Northwest that the weather begins to cool and small rodents and bugs come into the house seeking warmth.  Last week I found a rather large dead spider on the mat that is intended for Leif to sleep on next to our bed (notice I said ‘intended’ because he is usually doing acrobatics in his sleep on our bed).  This evening I removed two spiders from our kitchen floor and let another remain in its web above our kitchen window.  There are two large webs on our front porch with juicy garden spiders devouring a midnight snack as we speak.  Its October.  Its spider time.

My catch and release trap is set in the kitchen and I’m doing my best to let go of my fear of these little critters while still remaining vigilant about keeping our home rodent free.  I will take each mouse to the forest and let it live out its days there (if I even catch any).  I will continue to allow a few spiders to make their home in the corners of our house (they remind me of my kitchen spider, Charlotte in South Africa) and to catch and release their friends that I find crawling across my kitchen floor.

I’m not some super brave girl.  I just don’t feel comfortable with killing.  I remember walking through the Grand Canyon several years ago and being overwhelmed with the amount of life around me–frogs, crickets, beetles, spiders, deer, goats, fish, squirrels… and that was just what I could see or hear.  Our world is full of living things–big and small.  I get that there is a natural order of things–lions must kill to live and sometimes humans must too. But is it necessary for me to kill a spider that will do me no harm just because it was unfortunate enough to end up in my home?   What makes the life of a creature I consider “creepy” less valuable than mine? And where do we draw the line of what is appropriate or inappropriate to kill?  Its something I’m still working out.  How do you deal with critters in the home?

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2 thoughts on “Spiders and Mice

  1. Julie

    I am the Queen of Catch and Release when it comes to spiders and all other insect or crab related creatures. Good for you for seeing your connection with all of life.

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