Thursday, 14 June 2012

There's a mouse in the house: how to win a battle of wits.

A week ago it became clear that there is a mouse in the house.  This happens periodically and I have no idea how they get into my first floor apartment.  The mouse is not welcome in this house and the moment I have a suspicion I open the jar of peanut butter, slather a generous smear on the jaws of a mousetrap and I wait.  It usually takes no longer than five days. It's a canny, cunning, slippery mouse that has taken up residence this time.

You may wonder how I know I have a mouse.  In the past there has been a surprise, face-to-face encounter which has left the mouse as shocked as me.  It's a shame the mouse can't just drop dead from an adrenalin surge.  Last time I had a guest I was sitting at the kitchen table thinking.  The house was pretty quiet and there was movement that caught my eye.  I looked over and saw a mouse considering me.  When I turned and saw the mouse I inhaled sharply.  So did the mouse. And then it hid behind the washing machine.  Out came the peanut butter and the trap was laid.

Each morning I would look behind the door in trepidation.  There's only one thing worse than dealing with a live mouse in the house and that's a dead mouse that needs to be removed from the house.  It took about a week before the mouse was disabled.  I wondered how anyone, including a mouse, could resist the delicious enticement of peanut butter for so long.  After five seconds of considering this, I realised that peanut butter may be less appealing when it is smeared on an instrument of death.

One of the design "features" of my kitchen is that I have an open pantry - open shelving with no doors.  After a serious moth infestation a few years ago, I've become hyper-vigilant about storing pantry goods in airtight containers.  I've obviously missed something though.  Sitting in the kitchen the other day I could hear a "scrabbling" sound.  I would stop what I was doing and just listen.  I would hear silence.  As soon as I would go back to doing what I was doing, the sound would start again.  Cunning mouse.  Trickster mouse!  I shook the shelves and saw a flash of grey fur shoot out and run behind the stove.  These mice are really good at hiding in really skinny places behind really big, immobile appliances.

And so the traps were laid.  Nothing so far.  Not even a sniff.

What I really need is Alfie the Jack Russell.  He's the world's greatest mouser.  He literally sniffs them out.  You can hear him sniff and he stands his ground until the fridge is moved, the dishwasher unplumbed, the walls pulled apart.  He is never wrong.  He is very efficient.  A mouse doesn't stand a chance.  He grabs the mouse, shakes his head and that mouse is history.  (You can see the killer here.)

My current battle is nothing on the mouse plague I experienced in western Queensland in the 1980's.  People put the legs of their beds in buckets of water in an effort to stop the mice joining them in bed.  Shudder.  I will never forget standing in a moving sea of mice when my father turned the air-seeder on.  It was full of mice.  When the machinery was turned on, a seething mass of mice poured out of it.  There were kids, cats, dogs, Mum and the pet lamb fighting a losing battle.  It was truly revolting.  At one point I saw the cat looking utterly bewildered as it had mice pinned to the ground under all four paws.  It looked to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

If the traps aren't full in the next couple of days, I'll pull everything off the pantry shelves and find the little bugger.  I hope there's only one.

What's your mouse catching strategy? Peanut butter or cheese?  Baits?

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