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In the late seventies/early eighties, I read an English-language novelette/short story about a rat or mouse who is turned intelligent by aliens visiting planet Earth. I think they may use him for the purpose of exploring and trying to understand human civilization, but am not sure about this. After a time they return to their planet, leaving him behind. He finds the gift of intelligence a burden, and - again, I may not remember this right - commits suicide by deliberately walking into a rat trap. What stuck into my mind was the rat's (mouse's) question "Why did they change me only to abandon me here?"
Can anyone tell me what story this is?

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    Take a look at this guide to help jog your memory and edit any more details. – Edlothiad Jul 10 '17 at 12:00
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Could this be Fredric Brown's "The Star Mouse"? It's admittedly not a great match. Aliens do uplift a mouse, but it's when he's sent into space and then returned, and the "trap" at the end is an electric fence that he accidentally runs into. You can find the full text here.

"Exactly. Focused upon this creature’s brain-center, they can, without disturbing his memories, be so delicately adjusted as to increase his intelligence—now probably about .0001 in the scale—to the point where he is a reasoning creature. Almost automatically, during the process, he will assimilate his own memories, and understand them just as he would if he had been intelligent at the time he received those impressions."

....

It wasn’t deliberate. It couldn’t have been, because the Professor didn’t know about Klarloth’s warning to Mitkey about carelessness with electricity— “Der new molecular rearranchement of your brain center—it iss unstable, und—”

And the Professor was still back in the lighted room when Mitkey ran into the room where Minnie was in her barless cage. She was asleep, and the sight of her— Memory of his earlier days came back like a flash and suddenly Mitkey knew how lonesome he had been.

“Minnie!” he called, forgetting that she could not understand.

And stepped up on the board where she lay. “Squeak!” The mild electrical current between the two strips of tinfoil got him.

....

“Vot on earth?” asked Professor Oberburger. Then he remembered the current, and guessed.

“Mitkey! Can you no longer talk? Iss der—”

Silence.

Then the Professor smiled. “Mitkey,” he said, “my little star-mouse. I think you are more happier now.”

He watched them a moment, fondly, then reached down and flipped the switch that broke the electrical barrier. Of course they didn’t know they were free, but when the Professor picked them up and placed them carefully on the floor, one ran immediately for the hole in the wall. The other followed, but turned around and looked back—still a trace of puzzlement in the little black eyes, a puzzlement that faded.

“Gootbye, Mitkey. You vill be happier this vay. Und there vill always be cheese.”

“Squeak,” said the little gray mouse, and it popped into the hole.

“Gootbye—” it might, or might not, have meant.

  • Sounds "sort of" like the story I remember, but I don't think it's the same one. I don't remember any "wife", machinery or Professor. But thank you for the answer ! – MrsAlexander Jul 10 '17 at 12:15
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This is "The Mouse" by Howard Fast.

It has all the elements described by the original questioner. The mouse is picked up by aliens, given intelligence by surgery, and used to reconnoiter the Earth. It does indeed end with the mouse deliberately entering a mousetrap.

The story can be read in its entirety here.

Thanks to @Alan for providing some extra information that helped me track this down and to @user14111 for providing the Internet Archive link.

  • I tried to find it there. I am horrible at searching the internet archive. Thanks again. – Organic Marble Aug 5 '18 at 1:00
  • @Alan you were so close! The anthology was called "Flying Saucers", not "UFOs". – Organic Marble Aug 5 '18 at 1:04

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