Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Murderous intent - I will win! I must win!

I wasn't going to tell you this story.  I have to now, given what happened at the supermarket tonight.

It's well documented that the long drought followed by a wet season has led to a mouse plague.  I always thought that living on the second floor of a double brick building would leave me safe from these invaders, but I now know that I am wrong.  They are getting in somewhere and it's doing my head in.

I'd been fighting a war of attrition with one over about a month.  Traps laced with delicious peanut butter did nothing to lure the mouse.  I'm sure he was parading by regularly, leading a tour group past the various sites and stopping to pose for photos.

I won that war a couple of weeks ago in a way too horrible to recount here.  I'm an animal lover and can not deal with killing animals myself.  Even if I do have murderous intent when it comes to mice.  Anyway, that mouse was dispatched and I breathed easy in the knowledge that my house guest was gone.

A week later, the unthinkable happened.  I heard a rustling, scratching, munching  sound that suggested the next shift had moved in.  Last night, I heard scurrying and caught site of a brown body, fast as lightning, disappearing into a gap.  Silly mouse.  It was the site of the last mouse's demise.  I knew exactly what to do.  I set my last remaining trap (the last one died a horrible death, along with the mouse it executed) in the same, prime spot.  Ah-ha!  The perfect plan.

During the night I thought I heard the snap of the trap and tiptoed out this morning feeling something halfway between hope and dread as I looked to see whether I'd caught anything.  The trap had gone off, but was lying broken in two, with no sign of a mouse.  Visions of a gigantic devil mouse, snapping the trap with a cavalier flick of its tail, started to take shape in my mind.  Further steps would need to be taken.  I had no traps left.

When my day finished I headed straight to the supermarket.  I searched the aisles for pest control.  The signs were not helpful.  I found what I needed at the end of the aisle marked "baby".  I found that confusing.

Two other women were gathered around the shelves debating the merits of ratsack poison and baits.  Me, being me, I said hello and said it was great to see I wasn't the only person with a mouse problem.

Well, we bonded as we swapped tips on how to get rid of the mice.  One of the women asked me what I use and I showed her the traps.  When I mentioned that I also sprinkle peppermint oil over everything (apparently the mice hate it) she looked at me as if I was some freaking hippy.  She pursed her lips and shook her head.  She then gave me a five minute survey of where to look for "gaps" (pipes coming in, pipes going out, behind the laundry tub, in the bathroom cupboard where the pipes are...you get the idea).  Once I locate these gaps I must pack them tightly with steel wool.

"My whole house is stuffed with steel wool," she proudly proclaimed as she nodded her head.

She then advised me on the merits of poison compared to baits including detailed information on how the various poisons work and how one of the agents is actually a blood thinner given to humans.  That made me squirm.  Don't get the doses wrong.

I left armed with new traps, a packet of bait and a new found determination.  The woman I'd been talking to said it was the best conversation she'd had all day.  As we turned away she asked me what the best thing to use in the traps is.

"Peanut butter," I called.

"Crunchy or smooth," she asked.

Oh, for goodness sake.  "Whichever one you've got.  I don't think the mice care and if they do, I don't!"

The new design scheme is minimalist with the occasion decorative accent fashioned from steel wool.  I'll need to buy more.  Anyone know how to cut it?  At the moment, one corner of my kitchen is looking like I've dropped the steel wool on the floor; there's too much to stuff in the gap and I need to cut it into a smaller portion.

Can't they just leave?  I don't like the feeling of focussing on the destruction of another living creature, but I can not coexist with mice.  Today I completed the empathy quotient (EQ) test.  One of the questions asked how I felt about the suffering of animals.  I hesitated before I ticked a box.

Now I'm plagued - not just by a mouse (mice?) but by the sounds of mice.  God help me.


  1. Crunchy. At least that's what I usually have in the house so that's what went in my traps. Mice can't resist the stuff.

    I had a mouse plague a couple of years ago. They came in through a hole behind the stove. I created a narrow path by blocking it with a brick and had two traps lengthways along the path. I got about 20 mice over a two week period. The mice died very quickly at least.

    The bodies were thrown to the chickens who disposed of them very excitedly. I turned my problem mice into eggs.

  2. My mice have been remarkably restrained. I think when the peanut butter is smeared on an instrument of death, it may be less appealing to the smart mouse.

    Your pathway sounds ingenious. I find it very hard disposing of the dead mouse. Twenty would be more than I could handle, but I do admire your recycling approach.

  3. We've never really had a mouse/mice problem but about 7 years ago we lived in a house with 2 of them. They didn't bother us so we didn't bother them and the pair actually came out and watched TV with us. They literally walked past us and sat right in front of the TV and watched. It was very weird. We only saw them for a few weeks and then they were gone, probably caught by a cat or something. If I had mice in my cupboard and near my food then I would definitely take them on, by making hubby do everything of course. Not only would I NOT be able to kill it I definitely would NOT be able to dispose of it or even handle seeing the dead body. You are far braver than I am. Good luck!