Our house has a long, and not proud, history with small rodent visitors. A few years ago, we took the selection boxes out of the hidey-hole on Christmas Eve and they were damaged. ‘Looks like the mice have had these,’ I joked. But then we looked more closely and realised it wasn’t a joke. The mice really HAD got them. The kids had less chocolate for Christmas that year.
Fast forward a few years to Easter two years ago. I removed the eggs from my wardrobe and this time I KNEW what I was looking at. More visitors. Two eggs had most definitely been nibbled. So we hastily redistributed the eggs and my parents and sister didn’t get any that year. After that, I went into a wild frenzy of mouse detection. I felt permanently on edge. I actually felt quite sick. I started investigating parts of the house I don’t usually bother with – like the corner of the dining room behind the curtains or behind my daughter’s wardrobe – and ‘evidence’ was everywhere. There was a rucksack in my son’s wardrobe containing forgotten Christmas chocolate which had been virtually destroyed.
We put humane traps down and spent 60 quid on a couple of sonic scaring things to get them to leave of their own accord. But they didn’t. They were laughing at us (and sh*tting in corners of our house). I manically hoovered and tidied. I couldn’t tell the kids what it was. I felt ashamed to have mice in the house. I told them there were ‘germs’ and we needed to be cleaner and tidier. I’m one of those people that wouldn’t kill a spider or a moth, but I had to face reality – those mice had to GO. They could affect my kids’ health, so I had to put my principles aside and we had to get rid of them.
A pest inspector from the council came round (and actually reassured us that it wasn’t that bad – after my manic hoovering mission he struggled to find a single dropping). He advised us to bait them with chocolate buttons. Once they’d eaten a button, they’d come back for another one – but this time they would be on TRAPS. Even baiting them was scary. Getting up in the morning and checking which buttons had gone and which ones were still there made me so nervous, but we worked out where they were most likely to go. Sadly, this included our bedroom.
You really don’t sleep well when you’ve got a mousetrap in your bedroom. You’re just lying there waiting for it to happen. And it didn’t even happen the first night. When it did, it was like the loudest noise ever – it echoed around the room, it literally seemed to make the whole room shake. I couldn’t believe it didn’t wake the kids. My husband was out of bed like a shot. He’s no better with dead mice (or living ones) than me. He shovelled it up, mouse and trap, and dumped it in the dustbin without even looking. I think we caught three, and then they were gone, and we breathed a sigh of relief.
Until New Year’s Eve 2010, less than eight months later. My eldest saw a mouse in the kitchen. And we took it with a pinch of salt. But minutes later, my sister saw one too. We put a trap down and caught one straight away. And then another. And no more. We were so much more chilled. We didn’t tell the kids about germs, we admitted they were mice. We’d accepted mice are a fact of life and nothing to do with us being dirty or untidy. My neighbour says they are to do with the houses being built on an old orchard and that mice will always go home – years ago her husband had driven 20 miles with mice in humane traps to try to stop them going back again.
So when my husband saw another one run across our hall and into the airing cupboard the other day, we did – nothing. I’ve checked all the corners and there are no droppings and I’m not even slightly stressed. Deep down I know we need to get a trap in the airing cupboard and get it sorted out, but we are so un-phased by mice now that I actually keep forgetting. There’s been no nibbled chocolate and no poos up corners, so we are staying pretty chilled about our little visitors.