With posthumous apology to Clement C. Moore

Thanks to DM, DC, and DB

T’was a week-night before Christmas, on the scrubbed office floor,

 And no creature was stirring, apart from Mouse 4.


Victorious Mouse

The victorious mouse

There he was—the fourth in a series of mice that had been skittering along corridors, and flinging themselves victoriously into the open backs of cabinet drawers. We had some evidence of their presence, but it was our intrepid late-night engineer who actually discovered them…one night at a time.

At Stilwell Baker, we run a clean operation. Don’t get me wrong; while we don’t wear white gloves, or bunny suits, we don’t keep dogs under the desks either, and the cleaning service comes in every night. But everyone knows that rodents are a determined and dexterous bunch, and according to D. H. Gouge, and C. Olson (University of Arizona), and Jose M. Rodriguez (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality), authors of Mouse Management, “a house mouse can get through a hole [of] the same dimension as a pencil.”  No wonder they could find their way into the office.

We were not alone in our desire to remove the mice—people have been systematically attempting to rid themselves of these small vermin for a very long time. From the 1870 cage trap, and James Henry Atkinson’s first commercially successful “Little Nipper” trap in 1909, to traps that poison, starve, suffocate, anesthetize, or electrocute the poor beggars, the mouse hunt has captivated inventors for over a hundred years.  As a result, there are over 4700 US Patents on mousetraps.

See: PATENTS; Still Seeking that Better Mousetrap

The Little Nipper

Little Nipper

Mousetrap from 1870

Cage trap from 1870













We didn’t need to invent another mousetrap, but desperately wanted to say a permanent goodbye to the mice.  We ended up with several different styles of traps (all speedily provided by our musophobic colleague, TJ).

As a group, we settled on snap traps (the ones that keep the remains from sight) because we couldn’t bear to subject any mouse to the likes of an electrocution mousetrap. After measuring the voltage on one of these traps, we learned that the electrodes ran about 24 volts of current through two metal plates, and DB commented, “Unless the mouse licks its paws before going into the trap, there might not be enough electricity to actually kill it.”

A few days later the problem was solved, probably by a building-wide approach, with baited traps set by an exterminator. There was no “trophy mouse” for the office, i.e. no definitive proof, but our late-night work is undisturbed and purely customer-focused.

He leapt from his nest, to his friends gave a squeak,
And away they all scurried as fast as a blink,

But I heard him exclaim, ere he loped out of sight,
“Happy night work to all, and to all a calm-night.”

Sleeping mouse