‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…
Except, er… something was stirring.
It began as a sort of shadow at the corner of my eye, while I was watching the television. Something seemed to have moved, but I couldn’t work out what.
Perhaps it was just a figment of my imagination.
But the second time, there was no mistaking it. It was clearly a small mouse with a long tail. Making itself comfortable in our house with ne’er so much as a by-your-leave.
I wondered what to do. The last time this happened, over 40 years ago, we had adopted a kitten, who did what kittens do and grew up to be a cat.
She never caught any mice, but as I had been advised, she deterred them, and we never saw any mice again.
But we didn’t want a kitten just now. And our ‘shower’ cat has not been seen for weeks.
Now I am truly a gentle soul and don’t want to kill anything if I can avoid it. But I also don’t want mice getting into my house. You hear stories of them getting into the walls and then dying. The smell evidently lasts for months.
So, what to do? I studied what was available and eventually bought some plastic mousetraps. Nothing fancy. The kind you put cheese in and hope it catches something.
I put two traps out, complete with cheddar cheese, in the corner where the mouse had made its appearance. That should sort it out, I thought. For some reason, I was convinced we had only one mouse, but the second trap was ‘just in case’.
Then nothing for some days.
About a week later, I saw the mouse again, this time carefully making its way around the two mousetraps as if it knew they were booby trapped.
Damn. I will have to get something better. This is war.
So, I dismantled the two mousetraps, wondering how mouldy the cheese might be, given that it had been left for over a week.
There was no cheese to be found.
What kind of super-mice do they breed here in London? An animal that knows how to get the cheese out but not get the guillotine? And then knows how to sashay around the traps, showing me what might be considered a figurative two fingers?
How is such knowledge passed on from one generation to another without language and perhaps other accoutrements of civilisation?
My son said peanut butter was what they liked.
I went out to buy peanut butter. Not something we eat, so I had to buy it specially. Super-crunchy? Smooth? I almost wanted to ask the mouse what was its preference du jour.
And I re-baited the traps with generous lashings of peanut butter, yet this time without a great deal of hope.
The next morning, I got up late and my husband was already eating breakfast. He told me we had caught two mice and he had disposed of them.
I was bowled over. First, that we had caught two just like that and second, if truth be told, that he had taken the initiative to get rid of them.
I baited the traps again with more peanut butter.
Nothing on the first day. Nor the second. Nor the third.
Perhaps the word had got round. Our house was not the place to be.
Mice don’t enter my thoughts most of the time. I never had a pet mouse, although my sister did briefly as a child. Those were the care-free days when we were encouraged to take home small animals from the classroom.
Why had they come now? New neighbours are undertaking major works and friends tell me that such activity often disturbs long established mouse nests. I looked this up on Google and found the following:
“If the nest is well established and in a prime location, a mouse will simply come back once you are gone. However, if this is a new nest, they may decide it is safer to find a new location. If the nest currently has babies, the female mouse is very likely to return in order to rescue her young.”
Ahh. How sweet. Almost made me feel guilty.
Have you ever had mice where you live? What did you do about them? Did it work?