Rodent Control - Man's battle vs. the rat goes high-tech

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Rodent Control - Man's battle vs. the rat goes high-tech


Source: L.A. Times
By Jeff Spurrier

Mousetraps aren't just a snap anymore. Some try to kill humanely. One will even send an e-mail of a kill.

It's hard not to admire the common house mouse, Mus musculus. Upon setting up a new home, it neatly separates kitchen, bedroom and toilet areas. It has evolved to make its own vitamin C, and it's sensible enough to fear not only black lights (possibly because a mouse's urine has a fluorescent glow) but also rats (Musicide is common).

Males are bucks. Females are does. A baby mouse is called a pinky.

If you tickle a mouse, it laughs.

It's all so cute, but there is a reason why the word "mouse" comes from mus, a Sanskrit word for "thief." The creature may have been worshiped in ancient Greece, kept as a pet in China and eaten as a remedy for stomachache by the pharaohs, but today most of us just want it gone -- dead, or at least out of our homes (no small feat when it can squeeze through cracks just a quarter-inch wide).

Civilizations dating to ancient Italy have tried to keep out the mouse. The Romans put strawberry oil in candles because the animal doesn't like the smell. By the 1800s, killing rodents had nearly become a science as Victorian inventors tinkered with hand-built devices for impaling, decapitating, crushing, suffocating or drowning the vermin. In 1897, the Little Nipper -- a cheaply fabricated spring-loaded trap that broke backbones and crushed skulls in three-hundredths of a second -- set a precedent in modern design. And the quest to build a better mousetrap has continued ever since.

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