On the trail of a radioactive mouse

Nov 19, 2010

How do you catch a radioactive mouse?  Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers will use standard mousetraps. Radioactive droppings were found at Hanford recently. After nabbing a radioactive rabbit two weeks ago,  workers say catching the mice is no easy task.

Some old buildings being torn down on Hanford have radioactive cesium inside. Both the rabbit and now the mouse on the loose might have eaten or sipped some of that contamination.

Gene Chafe is the general manager of Senske Pest Control in the Tri-Cities. He’s been working in the pest-elimination business for more than 30 years. And he knows his rodents. Now rats, he says, they're curious enough that they’ll find even one trap set down in their territory. But for a mouse … you’ll need a mine field of traps.

“Literally mice are creatures of habit and they run the same route every night in search of food. So you have to set enough traps that you will eventually bump into that trap,” Chafe said.

Chafe says he thinks Hanford officials will get their radioactive mouse since they’ve set up about 60 traps. He says mice common to Eastern Washington usually only roam about 20 feet from their burrows.