Wednesday 1 December 2010


No, I am not talking about student communities or marriage. I am talking about cats, mice and people. It is a subject driven by major conflict of interest and the mice are not even the culprits in this game, at least not necessarily. 

People like to live in warm, comfy houses and so do cats. Chance wants it that people like cats; so no issues there. Mice are rather opportunistic little creatures, though. They live wherever they find food and hiding places, however they do not like cats or people. Hence the house is actually their second choice, provided that the garden is a bit messy, with compost piles and bird food lying around.

Now, cats find that annoying as they are lazy buggers and prefer things to be all in one place. So during fall the bored fluff ball uses the sunny spells to bask a bit on the compost pile, while waiting for mice to pass by. And straight through the cat flap the poor things gets relocated, preferably into the living room. This mouse's main purpose is to provide entertainment and hence gets dropped where it is hard to see. Cats only go after things that move, mice know that and just don't comply. I have seen them sitting under the cat's tail with the cat desperately looking for them. This is the moment to bring the owners of the house into play. The task is to catch the mouse before the cat does, and in a situation as depicted above this is quickly done: Grab the mouse by the tail and relocate back to the compost.

All too often however, the mewing part of this triangular relationship gets bored, hungry or both and abandons the game, giving the mouse the opportunity to vanish under a shelf. In this case tools are needed, consisting of a tube like square cardboard box, broomstick and torch. See, mice like it dark and they are agoraphobic, if given the choice, they always would run up or along a wall. Thus the box gets wedged in at one end of the space where it is sitting, while arm weaponed with broomstick covers the other and is gently starting to chase the mouse into the box. So far this worked instantly in 95% of the cases. Naturally we don't have any photos of the hunt itself as firstly, one usually is not made up picture perfect when thrown into that task, but called from a comfy dinner including lap tray and wine, and secondly, adrenalin levels do go up a bit and hunting fever is kicking in - the last thing one remembers is to grab the camera.

Well and now we have at least one mouse that apparently escaped and is now living under our roof, in the literal sense of the word, although the walls seem to be a good living space as well. Detlef even suspects that it found a safe way to get in and out and hence is now living the mouse dream. Luckily for us advice came through the letter box in form of our community leaflet. A beautifully written article by Barry and Chris Love informs us that there is a surge in mouse numbers this year and that we might have to transport our little housemate about a mile away because otherwise he might 'home' back. So in a way we are lucky that the rest of the lot did not relocate voluntarily and were quite happy to go back on the compost. We already were considering coloured fur marks to make a study to find out if some mice are particularly stupid and got caught more than once.

But before re-homing with nature comes the catch of our little housemate, and the advice goes as follows: B&Q apparently has traps on sale for about a tenner from which the killing interior can be easily removed and replaced by some food and a bit of water: Very important if the trap won't be checked on a daily basis. 

The one method surely NOT to use is poison! Mice run quite a bit around until they die, transferring poison to other food places, where birds and other animals will pick it up, that includes cats, dogs, and hedgehogs. Additionally a poisoned, dizzy mouse makes an easy catch for any hunter. Barry and Chris report confirmed death of squirrel and and trace poisoning couldn't be ruled out by quite a few other victims.

So I will make my way to the DIY store one of the next days to get me a live trap. However cute our attic running nightmare might be, there is a cosy compost pile and family waiting for it.

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