Pest Problems – If your house is infested with mice and you don’t want to kill them, but would rather they left, then read on….
Like many small children, I really enjoyed the world of Beatrix Potter. All those wee whiskered figures in oh-so-cute buttoned waistcoats and frilly petticoats were my mini heroes, totally capturing my young imagination. As the unwitting precursors to Disney’s global domination of the talking animal phenomenon, Potter’s characters were utterly adorable, even the naughty ones. Who could forget the greedy Peter Rabbit who stole from Mr McGregor?
Or the once bushy tailed Squirrel Nutkin who sneaked up way too close to the wise old owl curmudgeon and of course, you’d have to remember the antics of the inimitable Two Bad Mice. Hunker Munker and what was the name of her pesky partner rogue rodent? They stole and rampaged their way through the doll’s house and still looked much too tiny and beautiful to bear any semblance of blame. Mice on t.v. were equally blame-free, I found that Jerry’s torment of Tom, never inspired much dislike of the mouse in me. I’d cheer as Tom’s face was splattered yet again by the iron or the long handled broom. And Pixie and Dixie didn’t exactly convey the menace of the mouse. Mice never seemed troublesome to me. That is, until now.
Living in an early 18th century cottage, possibly with even earlier origins, I suppose I should expect to be sharing our home with others, be they spectral or the four legged kind with big ears. However, the sheer numbers and noise of the tailed ones once they get a hold had always passed me by.
Around a month ago, I was relaxing in a warm, steamy bath and happened to glance over across the bathroom. In the distance, beyond where my Jack Russell Terrier was slumbering soundly, two small dark eyes stared straight back at me. A small, brown field mouse frozen to the spot had seen me and we eye-balled each other for a second. Then he scurried and disappeared somewhere behind the toilet cavity. He must have been incredibly lithe and dexterous as there was barely a pin-prick for him to squeeze through, but squeeze through he did.
That was sighting number one. Following this, a further sighting of a mouse (the same one or his friend, wife, sister, cousin?) by my husband, my daughter’s boyfriend, my daughter, my other daughter and a further one from me came hard on its heels. Remarkably, at this point, no food had gone missing whatsoever. We didn’t find any droppings and they didn’t bother us at all. So we enjoyed our mouse spotting, even took to naming the furred ones and imagining their family relationships (that is assuming it wasn’t the same mouse who was just incredibly industrious). Then it began.
Scratchings and scurrying sounds repeatedly woke me and my husband, the dog’s dried biscuits went missing and the floor cupboards in the kitchen began to be pillaged on a nightly basis. After a week or so, my patience was diminishing and any thoughts of Beatrix Potter drawings were far from my mind. I was thinking more of disease, sleepless nights and the terrible threat of chewed through electric cables, the Jaeger or the Marc Jacobs. Enough was enough.
So, here’s the point you might be at now. They’re in and how do you get them out? Here seem to be the choices:
Poison – DIY or expert, the result’s pretty much the same, you’ve killed the mice and the stench of their rotting corpses will remind you for weeks, through floorboards/wall spaces, of where they’ve crawled away in agony to die. You’d have a constant and pungent reminder of your cruelty.
Traps – the advantage is that they won’t crawl away, but they might not die either. It could just squash them horrifically and then you’d have to finish them off. Again, it all seems a bit medieval.
Humane Traps – of the three, my preferred option. Particularly if you add some peanut butter or cheese (yes, they do actually like the stuff!) and then release them. Do remember to free the little dears at least a mile away or you’ll only have to repeat the process!
DIY Humane Traps – buckets, filled with peanut butter/cheese/cereals and then coated on sides with oil/butter. The idea is they sniff out the goodies, jump in for their free all you can eat buffet and then can’t get out, so settle down to a nice snooze. Then you appear to release them (at the safe distance advised in no. 3).
Rely on your cat/Jack Russell Terrier (I have reminded mine that he is supposed to be a ratter!) – well, this just depends on your pet. Benny, whilst not happy about his diminishing biscuits, wasn’t a bit interested and hasn’t even noticed the slightest pitter-patter of tiny pink feet.
So, we chose DIY Humane Traps – mouse goodie buckets littered the downstairs of our house for over a week (it wasn’t particularly the look I was aiming at as it gave the impression that we’d all over-indulged and had been collectively and violently sick in all of the rooms). And…I was becoming neurotic, checking the buckets many times a day. I’d make a coffee, and run expectantly to peer into a bucket. I’d answer the phone and run excitedly to a bucket. Nothing. Not even the little tell-tale brown currant sized parcels nearby. Nothing.
The sleepless nights continued. Exacerbated, exhausted and ever so slightly at the end of my tether, I’d thump on the walls and floorboards, hissing obscenities at the furred ones. I even fleetingly contemplated buying poison and then it happened.
Two nights ago I awoke in the morning to realise that I hadn’t been disturbed in the night at all. My husband had slept through too. The dog lalso appeared bright eyed. Highly excited I charged downstairs imagining all my honey traps to be rammed full of the little squeaked ones and to my surprise, all were utterly empty. Where had they gone?
I knew that they must be hungry as I’d re-homed the dog’s biscuit stash into a sturdy mouse-proof tin and thanks to some ingenious and hasty DIY, none of the other cupboards had even the tiniest mouse access. I’d also followed some advice on a website about smearing cupboards in toothpaste (apparently mice abhor the smell of peppermint or spearmint). So, with not a dropping, scraping sound or mouse in sight, I was now quite confused. That is, until I checked in the right place.
We have a wooden cupboard, quite an unremarkable cupboard, around two feet or so from the floor and quite self-contained. This is our painkiller and medicine drawer and it’s where our little friends had spent an evening partying. I’ve never seen crystal meths being cooked, but imagine it must create a white dust cloud a bit like the one that enveloped me when I opened the drawer.
A mini white Hiroshima ballooned up from the cupboard and revealed where many sets of little teeth had ripped through multiple packs of analgesics, tearing apart the red plastic coatings and ingesting staggering amounts into their tiny bodies. It was clear what had happened. Unwitting, but multiple suicide. I was staggered, what would inspire them to repeatedly munch through something so bitter-tasting?
By the sheer numbers of empty pill capsules and droppings, it was obvious this drawer had been attacked by more than one culprit, but after a careful search of everywhere around the cupboard, whoever was responsible for this huge drugs haul had long gone. And now several days later, it would seem they are gone for good.
Now I’m just waiting for the tell-tale (or should that be tell-tail?) aroma?
So….after some time soul-searching and questioning what we should do, the mice seemed to take things into their own little pink paws. I sort of wish they hadn’t though and only hope that they drifted off into their long sleep, totally oblivious and floating away on a large biscuit laced with peanut butter and cheese and proper Celestis space cremation services whisking them on their merry way.