Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Mistaken Identity




When the leaves started disappearing from my indoor pepper plants I looked for caterpillars. After the whole top section was chewed off my dragon palm, I guessed huge nocturnal caterpillars were to blame. Who was I kidding?


Then there were other clues, caterpillars don't invade a spice cabinet and chew up all the stock cubes or leave large black droppings on a window sill. They don't nibble holes in apples left in a fruit dish. We had mice.


The Garden Tiger often brings mice home but, being dead, they aren't difficult to catch. This super mouse was very much alive. I hadn't seen it but it was definitely around in the house somewhere. When my man, nodding in front of the 10 o'clock news, was shaken awake as it thundered over his shoulder and down his leg, serious action was called for and off he went on an urgent trip to the hardware store.


He returned with a whole bagful of humane mouse traps. Once baited with peanut butter and apple, an allegedly winning combination, we went to bed and waited. In the morning the traps were wrecked, bait gone, hinges chewed, mouse nowhere to be seen. I trembled.


'This is no super mouse. We've got a young rat in the house,' I sobbed.


Another trip to the hardware store, this time he returned with several inches of cruel steel trap in a plain brown wrapper. We meant business. More peanut butter, more apple, more guile...but this time we would be the winners.


The next morning I catch my man leafing through the pages of, ‘The Complete British Wildlife’ a field guide to the mammals of Britain, a slight pallor on his rugged cheek. No common brown rat was in the trap, we’d flattened a yellow-necked mouse. (Apodemus flavicollis) At nearly 12cm one of the largest of our British mice. A competent tree climber and frequenter of woodlands, formerly common and widespread now, comparatively scarce, but not yet endangered, unless of course it happens to end up in my kitchen.

13 comments:

ChrisH said...

Yellow-necked mouse or not I would have done the same thing if it had 'thundered down' my shoulder and leg! Aaargh!!

Milla said...

wow, that's some monster mouse. Gruesome. Far more rat than mouse. Just hope its uncles, aunts, cousins, cleaning lady aren't still scuttling in the skirting boards...

Frances said...

I agree with Chris and Milla, and certainly hope that he wasn't just doing the grocery shopping for his family.

How is your cat reacting to the recent events?

xo

Edward said...

I don't get the aversion to mice. Rats, yes, especially when an ex-girlfriend named her pet rat "Edward". But mice seem sweet. Though maybe not at 12 cm.

elizabethm said...

Just too big for tolerance. We have mice in our utility room (not part of the house!) which can evade any trap and eat any bait.

Sally's Chateau said...

You certainly can't have something like that thundering down you, I'm shuddering just thinking about it.

Ivy said...

Put up a sign by your kitchen door "no trespassing beyond this point -for rats and mice only" maybe you feel better if you warned them before you put up the next trap. :-))

Inthemud said...

Never heard of a yellow neck mouse, shame to end up like that, but it was doing damage.

How do you think it got in, there may be a family of them close by.

Withy Brook said...

Haven't heard of a mouse like that. We have ordinary ones and shrews but not monsters. Ours will get any bate and evade any trap too. So when we were getting inundated, we gave in and got a clever poison. They eat it and drop asleep almost immediately (beside the supply) and then die. Absolutely painless and you can find and dispose of them without stinks under the floor boards.

Cait O'Connor said...

I've never heard of a yellow-necked mouse, thanks for that.

I shuddered at the thought of it running over a shoulder and down a leg. Would have done the same as you.

We had a mouse eating the soap in our bathroon - it had crawled in from outside through a wee hole. That had us puzzled for ages, the little nibbly areas on the bars of soap.

HER ON THE HILL said...

Yellow-necked? My God, sounds like some sort of a horror movie mutant! Yes, certainly longer than desireable too.

I had a squirrel run over my leg in the study the other day which then proceeded to climb the walls and shit everywhere until I managed to trap it with the waste paper basket! It only had one eye, poor fellow. Maybe that's why it was jumping around in circles. And guess what, the cat's never around when you need her...

Had a 'loi' out in France making merry munching our beams, pinching the children's sweets and deficating recklessly. It was a pretty creature - similar to a squirrel but cuter - and is a protected species. Well, not in our house. It had to go. The whole place would have fallen down if we'd let it go on. Traps duly set with peanut butter. He stepped neatly over it the first time, then gluttony overcame it and it came back for more. Bad decision. Clunck, kerthunk. That was the end of the Loi. Rather sad.

Exmoorjane said...

Crikey, no I'd never heard of those either. Even the small ones make such a racket they sound like mammoth rats. I don't mind mice (but show me a spider!!) but it's not on having them in the house.
We were inundated in our old house...

Pondside said...

Of course you had to try the humane trap - but I knew that in the end I'd read that you'd had to resort to the real thing! We also bait with peanut butter - works like a charm. I can't bear to see the unmistakeable evidene of mice visits - it happens whenever there's a cold snap.