Parsing a recall

July 30, 2010 § 2 Comments

You may have seen this article in the New York Times announcing that a year’s worth of frozen mice* have been recalled due to a connection with salmonella outbreaks. As a snake owner, I have seen this article. Several times, actually, since I am apparently the first person everybody I know thinks of when they read the words “frozen mice.”

(Turns out that this is very useful information for me. All I have to do is turn the phrase into slang for something and I will be on everybody’s mind all the time. So, what do you say we replace the word “hella” with “frozen” and the word “cool” with “mice”; thus, instead of saying something is “hella cool” you would say something is “frozen mice” and in doing so you would think of me. Boom. Instant ego feed. I like where this is going.)

Obviously, I digress. What I really wanted to do was to discuss a few issues I have with the article. For now I will skip the fact that they only talked to keepers of garter snakes and pythons, when there are plenty of people out there with far more interesting reptiles who are also affected by the recall. Admittedly, the average NYT reader isn’t going to know enough about snakes to roll her eyes about that the way I am, so I’ll (mostly) leave that one alone.

Issue #1: Volume. According to the article, “there is nothing unusual about keeping a dozen snakes in the living room and a few zippered bags of mice in the freezer.” Really? If you have dozens of snakes in your living room you are either keeping dozens of zippered bags of mice in your freezer, particularly if you buy in bulk from an online retailer, or you are starving your snakes. Either way, this example is most definitely not usual.

Issue #2: Frozen vs. live. “Buying frozen rodents saves repeated trips to the local pet shop to buy live mice, he said, and it spares squeamish owners from having to watch pets kill their prey. ‘Some people aren’t ready to make that leap,’ Mr. Kobylka said.” Neither Mr. Man nor I are very squeamish, but we would never feed our snakes live prey. Why? Because our captive-bred, captive-raised snakes have lost so much of their predatory instinct that a live mouse would kick their asses. There are few things more pathetic than a snake whose face is covered in scratches and bite marks from a fuzzy little creature that was meant to be its dinner.**

Issue #3: The microwave. In general, I agree with this statement: “Mr. Gilfillan and many other snake owners thaw mice to serving temperature in warm water. Dr. Barton Behravesh said people should not use a microwave oven…” If the article had stopped here, I would have been in total agreement. However, it continued to specify “…because the bacteria could spread to other food.” While that is technically true, it completely avoids the main reason one shouldn’t use their microwave as a rodent-defroster: exploding mice.*** Believe me, nobody wants that.

Issue #4: DUH. “And she said that reptile owners should wash their hands thoroughly after handling their pets or the rodents the pets eat.”  Come on, people, use some common sense. While I understand that the target audience is the casual owner of a corn snake/garter snake/python/boa constrictor and not folks who know what they’re doing, I’m still insulted by the inclusion of this sentence. No kidding, NYT. You should wash your hands after handling most, if not all, pets, and their food. Have you ever looked at the ingredients that go into cat & dog kibble?

I do want to assure everybody that our household is not affected by the recall. We buy our mice local (though as mentioned above, not fresh). The one time we made an online purchase it was through an organic, free-range mouse farmer at — wait for it —****

* In our household they’re referred to as mousecicles. It’s best to make sure you don’t confuse this word with other, similar words, which could result in a very unsatisfying and/or disturbing summer snack.

** An example of something that is more pathetic than a big scary snake who got bitch-slapped by a cute little mouse? A 25 year-old midget checking out some drunk 85 year-old booty. (Sorry, you’ll have to scroll down or read all the way through for the money shot.)

*** Interestingly, “exploding mice” is exactly the point at which Elis who is not squeamish about live mice as snake snacks gets totally creeped out and woozy.

**** Yes, I wrote the last paragraph for the sole purpose to sharing that link. It cracks me up every time.


§ 2 Responses to Parsing a recall

  • Allison says:

    Although I too read the article, I didn’t actually think of you, which is only a comment on how jet lagged I was when I read it. Per usual, your writing is hilarious and brilliant!

  • Heather Nielson says:

    Once again, your wit and clever combination of mundane life experiences with tongue-in-cheek proclamations of epiphany put a big smile on my face – the WHOLE time I was reading it. I Miss your smile E-L-I-S 🙂

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