Of Mice and Me
I Hope There Aren't This Many!
'There's a Mouse in the House! '
'There's a mouse in the house!' My husband declared one day; something he would no doubt blame on me. He'd heard rustling sounds amidst piles of paperwork I needed to sort through.
Cats do Earn Their Keep!
I blamed the cat that recently died, aged thirteen. I've always had at least one cat wherever I've lived but after her demise, I decided not to get another. I wanted to travel more now I was fast approaching sixty and a new cat might even outlive me.
Mice are very clever creatures so it was little surprise they'd homed in on my now cat-free home. It must have been the crumbs on the floor which my husband and two grown-up sons never bothered to sweep up. Not to mention the mess my two grandsons made when they raided the biscuit barrel after school. I was guilty too as I'd left a box of cat munchies next to the documents in the dining room. I'd meant to give them to a cat-owning friend but had completely forgotten. I soon discovered mouse droppings nearby in a box of books I'd intended to read but knew I never would. In such circumstances, it's wise to take the advice of someone like Marie Kondo. Get rid of it, if it doesn't 'spark joy,' she says. Thinking about it, nothing in my entire house sparked any joy. I should dispose of the lot - mouse and husband included. I'd be liberated from my heirlooms and could declare myself a minimalist.
I've never had a mouse infestation before as all my cats were excellent 'mousers.' They deposited gifts of tiny eviscerated bodies on my doorstep, every day. I live in a semi-rural area so they also caught other small creatures that dared to invade their domain.
A Mouse of a Different Kind?
At the same time I discovered the mouse infestation, I had trouble with my right thumb not bending. It would spring back involuntarily when I went about my everyday tasks just like the mechanism in a mousetrap. Although not painful, it was uncomfortable and sudden enough to make me swear. It felt as if there was a rubber band twanging inside it. On further investigation, it appeared I had a condition known as 'trigger finger.' The cause, I've since discovered, is too much mouse-clicking at my computer desk. There's even a phrase to describe someone like me who spends an inordinate length of time there - mouse potato! I decided to use my left hand for everything instead. I coped rather well - apart from some broken plates and spilt milk. Oh, and I almost transferred two thousand pounds to someone instead of twenty.
With his usual military precision, hubby purchased several mousetraps. He placed them at various locations around the house but failed to tell me. I soon discovered them whilst doing the cleaning and cursed him for his negligence. Knowing him, it was more than likely deliberate. The traps could have caused further injury to my thumb if I hadn't spotted them. As a consequence, I felt sorry for any mouse that would suffer such a barbaric end. At least they'd stood a fighting chance with the cats and often escaped feline claws unharmed. After all, the mouse - or mice as the case may be - had only entered my home in search of warmth, food and shelter over the winter. I decided to sabotage all the traps with my broom and ordered a humane trap from Amazon instead. Hubby was always telling me to shut my trap, so it was high time for revenge. It was satisfying to see the look on his face each morning on discovering his traps empty and the bait gone.
Before the new trap arrived, I caught a mouse when I heard scurrying in my under-stairs cupboard. This proved an easy task since it had already become trapped in an open storage box, too deep to escape from. I transferred it to an empty shoebox that was close to hand. Pleased that I'd caught a mouse humanely, I released it into the garden. Later on, after asking the great Google God all about mice, it occurred to me, I hadn't been as kind as I'd thought. It was freezing outside, and after spending much of its life in the warm, a mouse can't adapt well to the cold. So now I spent a sleepless night feeling sorry for the unfortunate rodent.
Several days later, the humane trap arrived. The instructions in broken English gave me no end of amusement as the product came from China:
'The perfect trap is just need open the door and add peanuts. When you caught a mice it's convenient to carry the trap and release mouse without touch it.'
I soon caught several mice as the trap was efficient but what was I to do with the mice while the weather remained cold? This time, reluctant to subject them to the elements, I deposited them in the garage instead. Hubby would go ballistic if he ever found out. I'd hidden his traps now and had also acquired a partner in crime - in the shape of my youngest son. We fed pistachio nuts to the captive mice before we let them loose in the garage.
Later that week, I found mouse droppings under the kitchen sink. I went around sealing up every possible point of entry. It was likely a gap where some mortar was missing outside, around the cold water inlet pipe.
These mice were taking the mickey now; they'd managed to unwrap an OXO cube that had fallen down the back of my cooker. One mouse even dared to enter my larder. They can't half move fast! I don't know how the proverbial farmer's wife managed to chop off their tails with a carving knife. It shot out as soon as it saw me and ran underneath the cooker, then when I moved the appliance, it bolted under the dining-room door. They have such flexible backbones, they can easily squeeze through minute gaps.
The next day, I found two dead mice in my airing cupboard - the only place I hadn't looked. Oh, no! There was somewhere else! Surely they weren't up in the loft?!
I haven't seen or heard any evidence of mice for over a week, which is good as I'm rather fed up playing Tom and Jerry. And after reviewing the situation, I think I'd better get another cat.
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© 2019 Stella Kaye