New Mouse Dies Inside a Museum's 155-Year-Old Mouse Trap
Perpetual mouse traps—manufactured by Colin Pullinger & Sons of Silsey, West Sussex and patented in 1861—declare that they "will last a lifetime." And as employees at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) recently discovered, the traps make good on their promise—even 155 years later.
Yesterday morning, MERL staff received a strange e-mail. "There appears to be a dead mouse in this mousetrap…" it started, "… which is not described as being there on the database."
Apparently, a small mouse managed to sneak past University of Reading security, the exterior doors, and museum staff only to get caught by the one thing in the museum created to kill it: a 155-year-old trap on display. The rodent wiggled into the ancient mouse trap and died.
The trap was unbaited, but the mouse still felt the need to enter the side of the device, which works like a see-saw. Small animals can get in, but the door closes behind them, trapping them inside.
Mice and other pests are a real problem in museums. Curators and conservators are constantly on the prowl for tell-tale signs of rodents, bugs, and other infestations that might harm the artifacts in the museum. Luckily, this particular mouse only nibbled on a label before exterminating itself.
So far, museum staff aren't sure what to do with the foolish rodent. But the possibilities include turning it into taxidermy and making it part of the display or giving it a proper burial.