Klaus the Mouse in My House

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Part of my hazing to New York City is, apparently, having to deal with mice in my apartment building.  The whole building was infested shortly after I moved in, and every day on the elevator I swap mouse horror stories with other tenants.  My roommates and I thought we only had one (we named it Klaus) but last week Klaus met his demise, and not two hours later we spotted Klaus II.  We’ve now spent hours discussing mice and mouse traps, the merits of poison versus those weird sonic things you have to plug in.  And when it came time to get rid of Klaus’s remains, I was the nominated party.  Gross.

The whole thing has got me thinking about our relationships with animals, especially those that aren’t either pets, work animals, or food. Do we have an obligation to protect wild animals, like those who may live in endangered environments like the Wetlands or the Amazon rainforest?  And what are our obligations when dealing with rodents, insects, and other icky things that come into our homes?

I did some digging online, and found few answers to my questions.  We have a section on Judaism and Animals, but it doesn’t bring up the issues I was looking for.  Our section on Tzaar Baalei Hayim is fantastic, but still no dice.  The Kitzur Shulhan Aruch mentions that it’s forbidden to trap or kill rodents on Shabbat, but is mum on what we’re allowed to do during the rest of the week.  The closest approach to a Jewish response to this issue that I could find was a funny story from the Baltimore Jewish Times about a family of Jewish exterminators who sound kind of great:
“We’ve gotten emergency calls. ‘My wife is in the bedroom and she won’t come out because she saw a mouse in the kitchen,’� said Levi Brody. “You have to be a psychologist, and calm people down.

Maybe what I need is a psychologist–and not a rabbi–to help me deal with this problem?

Posted on October 27, 2008

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