Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ortho Home Defense Against Mice Is Overkill


I'm not sure if you've seen the TV commercial for the Ortho Home Defense Max Kill & Contain (TM) Mouse Trap, but I've got a few issues with it.

First of all, "Max Kill"? Dead is dead. No maximum kill is necessary. Honestly, it doesn't even make sense. A minimum kill is still a kill. I'm sure there's a marketing axiom behind the name, just like there must be one behind using a nine-word product title.

I understand that rodents can bring germs into your house and leave droppings. So do your neighbor's kids. I hope you wouldn't dispose of them.

The video for this product on Ortho's web site opens with "learn. do. enjoy." Enjoy? Domestic blood lust? I don't think so.

Don't just take my word for it. Check it out for yourself: Ortho "Instructional" video.

I'm sure you'll be happy to know it's safe around pets, the cute animals in your home you don't feel like killing today.

The TV commercial is especially callous. A happy couple sets a trap, then later tosses it away in the trash, smiling and without a second thought. Come on. You just killed a little field mouse. You don't feel anything?

And that's my problem with this campaign. Preventing disease, I understand. Getting unwelcome house guests out of your home, I totally understand. But killing without remorse, and with enjoyment? It's too much for a marketing campaign, and insulting. Especially when there are kinder alternatives, where you don't have to touch the animal.

I had a roommate a few years ago who kept our kitchen's pantry stocked like a feed silo. One winter, with lots of nearby construction activity, we had a mouse.

I learned of this the first time in the bathroom, when he shot out from the corner and I shot up in the air, screaming like a 1950s housewife straight out of Looney Toons. I didn't actually grab my hem or pearls as I leaped up onto the toilet, but that's only because I was clutching air...and I'm a man. But I'm sure I hit a high C. I was startled, OK?

But I learned a lot from this experience. Mice run along the walls. And they're freaking fast. They're also cute as hell.

I decided I wasn't going to set a classic trap, the French Revolution-inspired guillotine-type that snaps - it's disgusting and cruel. Plus I'm anxious around helium balloons, afraid they may pop. Mouse traps set me into hyper-freak.

I wasn't going to use a slow-death trap with glue. And I wasn't poisoning anything. So I decided to go the live trap route. I found a site online called Havahart that specializes in live traps. I also found out they had local retailers.

I love animals, but I didn't want this guy living in my home, especially while I tried to sleep. So I went to the local hardware store and bought the smallest trap they had, the model #1025. Which I learned, after feeding the mouse for several days and not catching him, was meant for squirrels or raccoons. So I went online and ordered a smaller, more appropriate trap (model #1020 for mice), and had it shipped.

I used a ritz cracker with peanut butter and caught him the same day. I thought he might panic but he was quite calm. I read that if I just let him go outside, which I was tempted to do, he'd most likely find his way back, even from a distance. So I took Mortimer J. Mouse - yes, I named him - in his trap, and placed the trap in a shoebox, and then put him in the front seat of my car, and drove several miles to a park and ride that backed to acres of undeveloped land, not houses. And I let him go.

When I opened the trap, I thought he'd take off like a rocket. He had to be coaxed. He looked up at me, and then took off.


Yes, I thought a hawk would swoop down after my week of effort, but Mortimer was spared. At least for the night.

I didn't kill him. I solved my rodent problem. He didn't come back. And I was able to sleep again, for two reasons. No noises in the wall and no guilt for killing a cute little mouse that was simply looking for some food and some warmth.

Have a heart, Ortho.


36 comments:

melaniet42 said...

Way to go! I think we have a mouse in our house. He's in hiding and I've only spotted him once. So far, he's not bothering us. Your post totally made me LOL.

Mike said...

:-) Thanks Melanie! You know what cracks me up? Google Ads. As I'm typing this comment it's displaying "Tips to keep rodents out. Tips from Ortho."

Vuthy said...

I came across your blog because I was searching for information on the Ortho trap. Like you, I've seen the commercial (they seem to be on constantly!) and am also turned off by how callous the couple are about killing and trashing a mouse.

What I want to know, and I don't know if you do, how does the trap actually kill the mouse? I found a press release that states there is no poison used so I am confused as to its mechanism. Does it just trap the mouse and let it slowly starve to death in the trash/dumpster?

Also, kudos to you for going out of your way to save that little guy!

Mike said...

Honestly, I couldn't find info on how it actually kills the mouse. I think it's a glue trap, which would be slower than poison. Thanks for the comments!

BarbW said...

Finally figured out how to post..another userid/pw, hooray!

Is too funny imagining you screaming and jumping, but hey I woulda been running, screaming and jumping--Mortimer picked the right house though, one of my cats or dogs would of made a chew toy out of it, which would be another sad demise (not to mention more jumping/screaming on my part ; )

Mike said...

Thanks for finally commenting, B! Yes, my description of my screaming was sadly not exaggerated. Eek really is a word in my vocabulary. :-)

One Wink at a Time said...

It's great to come across a human being with a heart.
I used to be eeky about mice too, until, in her early teens, my daughter had a pet mouse (named Fievel) I never touched it, but grew to care about it just from watching him go about his business each day.
Now if I see one, I don't freak and if one became a pest in our home I would take the same action that you did.
Now I can't promise that watching a spider's daily habits would change how I feel about them...

Mike said...

Thanks, Linda! Spiders scare the shit out of me - I've got to work on that. :-)

Jeff said...

The Ortho ad says is uses "springboard" technology. My guess is that when the mouse touches the bait trigger in the back, the cocked springloaded floor bashes it against the back wall.

Anonymous said...

I BELIEVE THE TERM SPRINGBOARD TECHNOLOGY MEANS TO: ELECTROCUTE THE MOUSE,IE CAMERA FLASH

lupingirl said...

I just saw this for the first time, and I'm glad to find there are other people who find this commercial (and product) as disturbing as I did. I understand that people don't want mice in their homes, but if you have the heart to kill something, you should at least have to recognize what you did when it's over. And considering that there are humane ways to deal with the problem, why would anyone want a tiny animals blood on their hands anyway?

James Colistra said...

I totally agree with you. I also don't agree with the environmental impact of this product. It seems like an awful lot of plastic to use once, and then just throw in a landfill for a thousand years!

Mike said...

Thanks for the comments! Mike

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! I found you from googling the words "Mouse Killing Remorse" which is what I have today in spades... as opposed to those idiots at Mouse Killing Central. I felt terrible about poisoning the little creatures who are only trying to find some food and shelter now that winter in coming on... they were making an awful mess this year as opposed to the previous winter's neater mouse housekeepers... but setting the French Revolution trap last night... I knew what was to come...

I cried over the one that stumbled across the peanut butter on the trap within minutes of me setting it... this morning there was a second... I wrapped them in plastic and put them in the trash and feel miserable for not giving them a proper burial and I expect everyone I tell this to tomorrow will take great pleasure in my grief... I have a live trap for the damn groundhogs that torment my garden and dogs all summer long... why didn't I think of a live trap for the mousies?

I had a little plastic box set up that was supposed to catch them alive a few years ago but they were too smart for it... but you have motivated me to try to find the stupid thing in case I haven't managed to murder them all yet...

Mike said...

Dear Anonymous- I know exactly how you feel and I'm glad my story offered you an alternative! Don't be too hard on yourself and Good luck!
~Mike

Vyolet said...

"Mouse traps set me into hyper-freak."
Thanks for the smile and bravo for the ethics!

Kaos said...

I wanted to thank you for the serious amount of giggling I did while reading this. Much more fun than what I was originally googling (Straight Pearls Ortho(dontist)) however hitting the enter key early gave me ortho which in turn gave me a link to you!
thank you!

Mike said...

Kaos - Glad you liked it! Random stumblings can be fun! ~Mike

Patrick Daly said...

I just bought and used these new Ortho traps yesterday. We caught two mice within an hour. The problem is that these traps didn't kill, as the name of the product would suggest ("Kill & Contain"). They just trapped the poor things in a tight space and left them there, writhing and clawing, trying to free themselves. This is more of a torture device than a "Home Defense" product. The mice were still very much alive this morning, nearly twelve hours after they were trapped. I discovered this by foolishly opening the trap to see exactly how this supposedly amazing new trap did its job. The prisoner nearly escaped right onto the kitchen floor. I don't think I'll be using this type of trap again for that reason. If I have to kill a mouse, I want it to be quick and painless. I've opted for Victor's electronic trap.

That being said, I know it seems like the humane thing to do to use a live trap and release it "into the wild." If you choose to go that route, keep in mind that you're only delaying the inevitable. Mice that live in your home are the kind that only survive as pests in a human dwelling space. So, if you let it go in a remote area, it's either going to die from exposure (depending on climate) or perhaps more violently and painfully by getting eaten by some other creature. I'm not criticizing anybody for trying to be more kind to other living things; just some food for thought.

Mike said...

I appreciate your thoughts, Patrick. I did wonder the same thing when I released Mortimer into the wild that night.

Sarah J. said...

There's a lawsuit about these "Kill and Contain" traps. Don't buy them before you read about how they really work!


http://www.peta.org/mc/NewsItem.asp?id=14807

Todd HellsKitchen said...

Great post, Thank you... I was Googling about for this Ortho product and your review convinced me to try the friendlier Havahart route!!

Mike said...

Todd, I wrote this post just over one year ago. I'm so glad you found it and it helped! Good luck! ~Mike

Anonymous said...

Well said James!,

"...I also don't agree with the environmental impact of this product. It seems like an awful lot of plastic to use once, and then just throw in a landfill for a thousand years!"

You go America! Another product made of plastic to throw in the bin. What were the designers thinking??

Otherlyn said...

The Havahart trap is he very best option. It gives you the opportunity to do a good thing in this too often cruel and heartless world. We didn't have one, many years ago, but we got a happy ending anyway. Here's what happened:

One Christmas eve evening, my 4 year-old son slipped his foot into a slipper and quickly pulled his foot back out with a shriek. He picked up the slipper, and out jumped a little mouse. It just sat the, as if stunned and I quickly grabbed a glass and trapped the little creature. We then transferred him to a large jar and poked air holes in the top. We added some bird seed and a bit of paper towel. He settled right down, had a meal, and made a little nest for himself. The nest morning, our family of four bundled ourselves up and drove to a local nature center that had a barn on its compound. We unscrewed the top of the jar, and set it down near the barn, knowing that the mouse would find its way inside where it would be warm.

All the way home, we talked about how happy we were that the little "Chris-Mouse" had found our house. It was an opportunity to teach my children about the Joy of being kind to even the smallest of God's creatures. What separates us from the beasts is our ability to be merciful. We chose Life that Christmas eve. It was JUST A MOUSE, but he became a sweet family memory. It was a very nice way to celebrate the birth of our Savior who not doubt, shared the company of a mouse of two, there in that stable so long ago and far away.

Bettina said...

Oh I am so glad I am not the only one finding this add so repulsive!!! Are my kids suppose to think it normal to kill an innocent creature? Seriously? And we wonder why we have bullying problems!!! Killing an innocent mice as if it is nothing is not the norm, at least I am hopping!! Thanks for the funny comment though!! I had a good laugh!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah just like when I caught the burgler in my house. He was just scared and hungry and needed money!This is not Tom&Jerry! Mice spread disease and droppings through your home!What part of this dont you get?These are your children! Protect them!I cant believe you would endanger your childrens health! OK you trap them and let them go. The next day they're back!

Anonymous said...

I saw this ad for mouse traps only because there is a dead mouse in a trap here at work. It's one of those box things which I'm sure has the awful sticky paper in it...so I just thought I would look for an alternative method. I saw this ad and was also curious about what "did the killing" and could not find anything on the method or what they used. I hate all mouse traps save one...my cats. Even when they have caught them in the house...I would take them away and release outside...did the same for a bat they got ahold of. Needless to say, with several cats in the house I don't have a need for a mouse trap but here at work, people are so heartless and only think "EEK! a mouse...kill it!" so to aleviate that, I thought I would look for an alternative....Orhto isn't it.

BTW, I loved reading all your comments and stories, it's nice to know I'm not the only one who thinks mice are cute and feel that killing creatures who are only looking to survive in a human dominated world is just...wrong.

Mike said...

Otherlyn - thanks for sharing such a lovely story.

Bettina - Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous (10/31) - My kids are grown. I experience this while sharing a townhouse with two friends. I also drove miles away and knew if I let it out in the backyard, he'd be back the next day. If someone has real infestation problems, of course you must do what's necessary to protect everyone's health. I just recommended one alternative.

Anonymous (11/19) - I'm glad you stumbled upon the post. I agree - first instinct shouldn't have to be kill the suckers.

I'm truly amazed a year later this post is still getting so many hits and comments. But Ortho is running its commercial again - I don't criticize anyone for having to deal with mice/rats in whatever way they're most comfortable. I thought the TV commercial itself was a little over-the-top and wanted to share my story. Feel free to disagree. I certainly don't have all the answers nor speak for anyone else. [I do delete the personal attack type comments, but they're quite rare.] ~Mike

Anonymous said...

The Ortho mouse trap doesn't actually kill the mouse. I just let one free in a field a block away because it was sitting in the trap doing it's best Monty Python impression "I'm not dead, I feel happy". The worst part is not the callousness of the trap but that it's marketed as a quick death for the mouse. Instead the mouse is either left to die slowly or surprise unsuspecting buyers.

To the comments about being humane to mice trying to live in a human dominated world, I would argue that a cockroach is trying the same, so is it just the cuteness of the mouse that justifies humane treatment or would you do the same for the cockroach?

Mike said...

Anonymous - Both really excellent points!

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Anonymous said...

Yay! Good for you. Havahart is a great company. I've actually taken the mice people catch in their attics and kept them as pets. Six, so far, and they're extremely cute and sweet. Never had an issue with disease, fleas, mites, etc. though they do live 5+ years. Anyway, I wanted to add, for those not able to order the live traps, that Walmart sells something called a mouse cube. It's a see through live trap that costs about $1 and can be used over and over. There's also something called a bug gun (for people like me who won't kill insects either) and you can get it on amazon for $15. It vacuums them into a sealed holding container and you just turn it open, when outside, to release the little guys. Again, I'm so happy to see others who take the time to treat critters with respect. :)

Anonymous said...

The Ortho trap is the best invention in pest control ever! I am deathly afraid of mice and it very quickly and effectively gets rid of them without mess of any kind.

I frankly do not have the time or the desire to have vermin running through my home until they find their way out. If you live in an apartment building, it is completely irresponsible to knowing allow mice to exist as infestation can happen quickly. Not cool forcing your point of view on others who may not think they are cute at all.

Mike said...

Anonymous- I shared my opinion on my blog. Not exactly forcing this on anyone.

Anonymous said...

#1: I'm pretty certain that it's not "Max Kill" It's:
Ortho Home Defense MAX
Kill & Contain Mouse Trap

"MAX" is used to show that the current formula they are using is the strongest that they have available, not maximal killing.

#2: I love animals too, but they can't stay in my home and I shouldn't have to spend a bunch of money for some specialized trap, then waste gas driving miles out to set a mouse free. As far as I am concerned those animals (and bugs) should learn that humans are bad for them and stay away from our houses so we won't have this issue. How do we do this? Feeding them and letting them go free in a plush meadow after they break into our homes? No. Kill pests or discourage them from coming anywhere near my home, by spraying some heavy duty pesticide.

As far as the commercial? I like it. I've never had a mouse (probably because I have a great hunting cat), but if I ever saw one in my home, I'd prefer it be dead before it found a mate, had babies and infested my home.

Yea mice are cute, but you wouldn't be signing the same tune if it were a big sewer rat wandering around your home looking for "food and warmth." Bull... they should all be dead.