East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Why don’t you kill it?


It started when the plastic cap of the oil bottle disappeared.
“What the heck…?”
We took a look around, and found the cap under a chair, partially eaten.
Oh, shucks!
Autumn is here, the first showers have hit us, and as usual we have an uninvited guest in our house. Field mice have learned that in the lairs of the Sapiens there’s food, warmth and no rain.

So we armed our spring-operated cage, put a piece of cheese crust in it and waited.

It actually took us four days, and finally we had to use a small piece of high-end smoked cheese to lure the interloper in, and this morning when I came down for breakfast, there he was, not really pleased, waiting for me in the cage.

So we put him outside, where he momentarily attracted the attention of one of the local feral cats, while we had breakfast, and then while I kept an eye on the feral cat, my brother took a post-breakfast stroll to the levee of the Belbo, and freed the prisoner about 500 yards from our house.

On his way there he met a neighbor, that stared at my brother like he was crazy and asked

Why don’t you kill it?

His idea was to take the critter out of the cage and snap its little neck.
And I think this gives me a measure of the local mindset – people that shoot at cats for fun, and then kill field mice bare-handed.
I was reminded of Edward Abbey, who once said

I prefer not to kill animals. I’m a humanist; I’d rather kill a man than a snake.

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

But it’s not like that hereabouts.
Peasant culture is by its nature merciless in these hills, were men and women have done gruelling work on the hillsides for generations, never looking up at the sky, bitter, narrow-minded and insular.
The 20th and 21st centuries barely made a dent in that armor of meannes.
They keep telling us we are foreigners in this place.
It’s not a bad thing, I believe.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

11 thoughts on “Why don’t you kill it?

  1. I’ve always found peanut butter to be the best bait. And for whatever the reason, the cheaper the peanut butter, the better it seems to work. Go figure.


  2. Here in the States it’s everywhere, and I do mean EVERYwhere.


  3. Food allergies suck! Me, I love onions, but they most definitely don’t love me back 😦


  4. I’m sooo glad to hear you let the little prisoner go. As a fellow humanitarian I hate the thought of killing. Bless.


  5. Adorable little thing! I had one, years ago… I had the house all to myself when he appeared… well, to myself and two tabby cats, but I doubt the ever noticed. So for a week I fed the guest, and called it Melchiorre. When the family returned and found out, they were none to pleased. So they had me trap it – its bait of choice turned out to be Taleggio cheese – and loose it in the garden. A few days later Melchiorre was back, as fond of Taleggio as ever, and friendly enough that, when the contractors started noisy work downstairs, he took to climb on a stack of books on my nightstand for… I don’t know: company? shelter? protection?
    Anyway, I managed to trap it again, and this time I loosed it farther from home… We never saw it again, but still remember him fondly – even my rodent-phobic mother.


    • We tried letting a cat in, to see if she would catch the interloper.
      She clearly stated that she can have mouse for dinner whenever she wants at home, thank you. If she’s dining out, she expects at least leftover roast chicken or some tuna fish.


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