As I stepped bleary eyed into the Wet Room this morning, I checked the floor carefully. Walking barefoot in a house with potties stationed at every door and a recalcitrant dog who refuses to crap outside is always a risk so it pays to look where you are going. In this instance though, I wasn’t scouting for crap as I let the dog out into the garden. I was on the hunt.
One of the disadvantages of living in an old house, particularly an old house that needs work, is that it is prone to attack from all sorts of things. The bathroom installation was held up by not one but five large wasp nests earlier in the year, for example. And around that time I had a close encounter that I have no intention of repeating. Whilst sitting at traffic lights on the school run, both girls secure in their car seats, I noticed movement in the passenger footwell. A second glance revealed the movement to be a mouse.
I am so deeply impressed with myself for not a) swearing like a fishwife or b) abandoning the car where it waited for a green light with the engine running. I carried calmly on with the school run so as not to alarm the girls and, having dropped them both off, marched into the nearest hardware store, begged to buy half a dozen of the best traps they had. Thus followed the question that has haunted me since:
“Do you want to catch them alive or dead?”
I am a hardened townie. I am not terribly good with the notion of livestock, whether they supply milk or meat. I am quite happy to enjoy Foie Gras and other such delicacies without knowing the manner in which they came to be on the plate in front of me. I sometimes even believe that milk does come from a supermarket. The idea of killing an innocent little mouse was awful. But the idea of having to carry a live rodent somewhere to release it totally made up my mind and twenty minutes later I had three traps in the passenger footwell of the car. For good measure I put a couple on the Wet Room (aka the laundry/pantry that has a leaky roof) as the dog had been sniffing the corners interestedly for a couple of days. On the advice of the man in the hardware store, I avoided cheese as bait (good, because we are a cheese-free house) and went with Nutella and Peanut Butter.
12 hours later and there was a dead mouse in the pantry and one in the car. 24 hours after that another two, one of which had been caught by the tip of his nose and was thus alive, so I did what any Retro-Housewife would do and got Bathroom Guy to deal with it. I found it in a trap the following morning, definitely dead this time. In all, I was responsible (with a little help from Ferrero and Sunpat) for the deaths of nine mice.
It was only later that we discovered that the car-based rodents had gnawed through our ‘Emergency Raincoats’ which were stored inside the spare tyre, turning them into lace. In addition they had obviously nibbled the front casing of the engine since when it rained the passenger footwell would have made an excellent Mouse Swimming Pool: a great tale if you are Beatrix Potter but not so useful if you are planning on driving eight hours through the French Countryside some time soon.
Shortly after that particular discovery we ‘upgraded’ our car to a rodent-free one.
The temperatures have fallen somewhat in the past few days, which has had an inversely proportional effect on the Domestic Goddesque Death Toll. Yesterday I deposited three, presumable still-warm, carcasses in the bin. The Wonder Hound has very helpfully dragged their little bodies from the corner where I had secreted the trap onto the back door mat to make them easier to find. Little Big Girl found them first, which lead to a very interesting discussion, the result of which was a shudder and a “I think I don’t like rats, Mamma. Don’t do it again.”
I have a feeling however, that there will be more bodies to come as winter sets in. I find I no longer flinch picking up the trap and springing the dead mouse free. I calmly fill the bait hole with tempting treats and then thrust the knife used in the dishwasher to be boiled clean. It’s becoming part of my routine. I am now a serial killer. Eeek.