The Slatest

This Might Be the Worst Story of Killing a Mouse We’ve Ever Heard (Please Tell Us Yours)

Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images

The White House has a vermin problem, the Hill revealed Thursday, and it’s not just the occupant of the Oval Office. Maintenance reports reveal there are “mice in the situation room and the White House Navy mess food service area” (as well ants in John Kelly’s office and cockroach infestations in multiple places).


Sounds like the White House could use a little help. As it happens, just this week Slate’s Jordan Weissmann asked our company Slack for advice on disposing of a live mouse caught in his apartment. Turns out everyone has a mouse story of varying degrees of ick and awful—perhaps none as bad as that of our culture editor Forrest Wickman.

Share your craziest mouse stories in the comments, and perhaps the White House will take the advice (or perhaps wisely not). Here are ours.

This transcript has been lightly edited for sanity.

Thursday evening:

jordan.weissmann [5:56 PM]
What does one do with a live mouse?
Like, if you catch it in your apartment?
forrest.wickman [6:03 PM]

I’d put it outside or, if you really have to kill it, drop something extremely heavy on it.
I once tried to kill a mouse painlessly by gassing it. It was a disaster.
Sincerely, a vegetarian.

julia.turner [6:04 PM]
Once a mouse got caught in a glue trap and was half dead in a house of mine.
I killed it with an empty wine bottle. It was horrible.
Never use glue traps

jordan.weissmann [6:04 PM]
Wait, Forrest…

andrea.silenzi [6:07 PM]
@jordan.weissmann you put it in the freezer… it sounds cruel, but it works, and they just fall asleep

forrest.wickman [6:08 PM]
OK, so hear me out. My thought process was “I want to kill this mouse as painlessly as possible. How do people try to kill themselves painlessly? By sticking their heads in the oven.”
So, first I tried the oven.
But it didn’t work. I couldn’t figure out how to put the pilot light out, so I was just baking the mouse, and it was miserable.
So then I tried the stove.
I put it under a tupperware container and put it over a burner. Then, I tried to turn the stove past “Light” so only the gas would be on, but
It kept lighting.
Eventually I got just the gas to go on, but there was still a problem:

jonathan.fischer [6:10 PM]
is this actually experimental real-time fiction.
Hold on. I’m phoning PETA.

forrest.wickman [6:10 PM]
The mouse was terrified and was doing everything in its power to run from the gas towards where the air from outside was seeping in.

katherine.wynkoop [6:11 PM]
cant you just like put a bucket over it and trap it somehow and then create a mouse maze to a backyard?

forrest.wickman [6:12 PM]
So, eventually, after baking this mouse, singeing it, and terrifying it with poisonous-smelling gas, I got out my Oxford’s Complete Works of William Shakespeare, the largest book I own, and wrapped it in a garbage ba[g] to control the mess.
That did the trick.

katherine.wynkoop [6:12 PM]
how does the book come in to play here exactly?

gabriel.roth [6:12 PM]
Forrest’s performance of Coriolanus was too much for the mouse to take

julia.turner [6:12 PM]
That is amazing
I think this is the next season of Slow Burn

leon.neyfakh [6:13 PM]
that is way more fucked up than anything nixon did

gabriel.roth [6:13 PM]
i cannot believe that the correct way to kill a mouse never occurred to you

julia.turner [6:13 PM]
Say more

gabriel.roth [6:13 PM]

You drown it in Tupperware
You watch it struggle for a while and then when it stops moving you put it in the blue plastic bag that the New York Times comes from and throw it in the garbage

lowen.liu [6:14 PM]

gabriel.roth [6:14 PM]
better than burning, gassing, and then whacking with literature

june.thomas [6:15 PM]
For the love of Slate, Gabe, commit to freezing the next mouse that shows up in your apartment.

lowen.liu [6:15 PM]
the last time i killed a mouse: i tried to wack it with a swiffer, missed, and it died of a heart attack
could try that

jeffrey.bloomer [6:15 PM]
We starved ours to death by cleaning our apartment better

gabriel.roth [6:16 PM]
No mess, no fuss
A bit of fuss, I guess, on the part of the mouse

leon.neyfakh [6:16 PM]
enfkjanfkjsdfn dkj

leon.neyfakh [6:16 PM]
left #slateny.

julia.turner [6:17 PM]
All I will say about the wine bottle method is that I remember holding the wine bottle and trying to work up the nerve to do it for a long time. I was listening to Morning Edition at the time and trying to do it before leaving for work and I finally did it when I realized I was hearing the plug for Robert Wood Johnson the second time.

heidi.grothaus [6:17 PM]
something that worked to keep them out for me: soak a few cotton balls in peppermint essential oil and put them in corners of your place. They hate the smell. Not sure if safe for other pets or kids.

forrest.wickman [6:17 PM]
I admit it: It took me a while to arrive at my eventual solution. But: Which way would you rather go? Instantaneous, painless bludgeoning, or slow drowning, freezing, or suffocation?

gabriel.roth [6:17 PM]
Drowning is so much quicker than freezing
How long could you live in a freezer with fur

andrea.silenzi [6:17 PM]
What if you got it wet before you put it in the freezer? It would speed up the process.
gabriel.roth [6:18 PM]
Once you’re getting it wet you might as well go all the way though

leon.neyfakh [6:18 PM]
joined #slateny.

leon.neyfakh [6:18 PM]
is it over

katherine.wynkoop [6:18 PM]

forrest.wickman [6:20 PM]
There’s no perfect way. As we say in arguments about the death penalty, it’s surprisingly hard to kill anything humanely!

leon.neyfakh [6:35 PM]
When Alice was in college she lived in a house with some roommates, and there was one winter when every morning they’d make their way through the house picking up dead mice from traps and tossing them out behind the back deck
In the spring, the snow melted and revealed a field littered with mouse skeletons

jordan.weissmann [6:37 PM]
That sounds like a detail from, like, a Denis Johnson story
Except the mice would be on heroin
And so would the people

valerie.woolard [9:30 AM]
We had rats in our college newspaper office. In one particularly memorable episode someone was trying to scare it with a baseball bat, but had such bad aim that she hit and killed it instead.

katherine.wynkoop [10:05 AM]
i told my cousin about this conversation, and she sent me a picture of a mouse she found in her apartment a few years ago in Brooklyn. The mouse knocked over a can of Pam and was crushed by the impact—and thats how she found it. I have photos for anyone who is curious, but I dont want to scar anyone on a Friday morning

shasha.leonard [10:07 AM]
My friend’s dorm room had a mouse in it and the only reason we discovered it was because I was visiting her one day and she bent forward to pick something up off the ground and I saw it run from under her bed, clearly startled by her action. What happened next was like the slow motion bullet scene in the Matrix. My eyes followed the mouse as it ran towards her (she had not seen it), and she righted herself with her back step resulting in the insanely perfect yet tragic demise of the mouse. Its head was just beneath her heel as she put it down and we both heard a faint crunch.
I, a little belatedly, said “mouse” and pointed at the thing under her foot. She screamed for about 2 minutes and then the first coherent thing out of her mouth was “don’t tell my parents!!!”
I hadn’t even met her parents. But I threw the mouse away for her because she was really distraught. I was just amazed at the perfect synchrony of the whole thing

marissa.martinelli [10:10 AM]
Was she barefoot??

shasha.leonard [10:13 AM]


ben.mathis-lilley [10:32 AM]

I once caught a mouse in a vacuum cleaner and released it in Fort Reno Park at 3 a.m. in my underwear

heather.schwedel [10:33 AM]
someone caught a mouse in my apartment conveniently inside a bag of pretzels, so he was able to just grab the bag by the top and bring it outside, alive—i have a picture of that if anyone wants to see

sam.adams [11:17 AM]
My cat, Dexter, is a terrible hunter who will occasionally catch a mouse and then play with it until it eventually gets away. (He came in off the street, and how he lived in the wild for a year I will never know.) The one exception was the morning I came downstairs and found half a mouse on the kitchen floor. The back half.

ryan.zack [12:00 PM]
I used to have a roommate who was beyond sloppy. When we started getting mice, I berated him over every single thing I deemed disgusting. Dishes in the sink, dirty laundry on the floor, take out containers on the counter, etc. I had laid the entire burden of vermin at his feet…until one day I saw a mouse in my living room eating a huge chunk of chocolate. A few months prior I had bought a bag of Hershey Kisses and for some reason stored them in my closet. It so happened that the mice had dug a tunnel into MY closet and were basically surviving off of pure chocolate, which is surprising and kind of impressive. Needless to say, our friendship took a bit of time to come back from that one.

faith.smith [12:55 PM]
You know how people always ask, when did you know your partner was the one? Well, for me, that moment involved mice. I came home from work one day and my boyfriend said he had something to tell me. He sat me down and calmly explained that he found a mouse in my apartment. He then explained that he cleaned out my kitchen closet, patched a hole, and put out traps. All of this happened before I even knew there was a problem. That is when I knew that I couldn’t live without him.

forrest.wickman [1:03 PM]
How else do you think that Eleanor knew I was the one?