The University of Reading's Museum of English Rural Life has caught a mouse in a trap, but not on one laid by the museum staff to catch pests and rodents that frequently enter the museum’s building and cause menace. This rodent managed to get caught in a trap that was 155 years old and stored in the museum so that it could be put on display.
When the museum’s assistant curator discovered the mouse inside the trap when searching for objects to use in an interdisciplinary research session on animals, he was puzzled because the mouse wasn’t supposed to be part of the object. He sent an email to the museum’s staff, which began:
There appears to be a dead mouse in this mousetrap which is not described as being there on the database.
Can you perhaps check whether it should be there and/or decide if having a dead mouse in the trap is the best way forward from a conservation perspective.
The trap in center of the controversy was manufactured by Colin Pullinger & Sons of Silsey, West Sussex, and aptly named “Perpetual Mouse Trap” that was designed to “last a lifetime” as it said on the label. It’s a multi-catch trap with a see-saw mechanism so when a mouse goes through the hole in the top, the door closes after it. Although the exact date when this one was made is not known, the trap itself was patented in 1861.
“So, this retired rodent had managed to sneak past University of Reading security, exterior doors and Museum staff, and clambered its way up into our Store,” read the blog post by the Museum of Reading where the news of this amusing incident was broken. “Upon finding itself there it would have found the promised land; a mouse paradise laid before it full of straw, wood and textiles. Then, out of thousands of objects, it chose for its home the very thing designed to kill it some 150 years ago: a mouse trap.”
The trap was not baited, but the museum believes that the mouse was following a string which had fallen into the trap and met its demise. Luckily the only damage the mouse had made was a nibbled label.
Last year the museum's collection was put into glazed cases, so the mouse could have only snuck into the trap before the glazing, or while construction work was being been carried out for the museum’s redevelopment.
The museum plans to make the mouse a permanent feature of the trap and will be put on display.
The mouse waits on a petri dish while it will be prepared for display.
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