Versus the Mouse

When I was quite young we moved into a new family home a few streets away from our old one. It was a larger house and closer to my schools, and backed onto a Red Ash pitch (also known as a blaze) that was pretty harsh on your knees. It is now, 20 years later, a astroturf fullsize pitch complex for the local schools, but before that it was very much a low tech area. Next to this was a series of empty fields.

The fields were torn up and in it's place a massive new primary school was installed. I must have been six years old or there abouts, as I remember going to visit the school after it was opened - it basically had been built on the land that my primary school had as it's major playing fields. Today, my school is no more - merged into the newer school as a massive extension to house all the students it has amassed.

One consequence of this building work was to move a family or two of mice into my home for a while. The mouse, it was surmised, came into the house because of the distruption to their home in the field. My mum dad remember seeing mice running across the floor in the front room, the tiny creatures scurrying about looking for refuge in a home that wasn't theirs. My dad remembers having exterminators putting baited traps down and I remember the boxes all to well - I am sure that you could have still found a few of the boxes in the attic prior to it's last renovation ten years ago.

You'd think that living in Cumbria we'd have had mice issues before, but since coming back from Canada a family or two of field mice have moved into our garage. Coming in to find a raft of boxes and random stored items they made their home in a box. The first time we noticed there was an issue was Connie finding a tonne of droppings, and it was confirmed that we had a few in the house. So I popped out to Wilko and bought a raft of traps - a mix of live and classic kill snap traps - and I set about getting rid of them.

Two weeks later and 16 dead mice, I thought we'd got them. That's right - sixteen caught. What I found was putting peanut butter on the traps was giving me a 100% kill rate with what I started to call Old Faithful, a single snap trap that would kill every night.

There were some bumps along the way. I went down one morning to find a mouse, the only one that managed to make it in, alive in the live trap. I drove down the road a mile and let it free into a field, to live another day. The other harrowing tale was the morning I went down to find one dead in Old Faithful and... the other trap missing. I found it a few feet away with a still-alive mouse struggling to get away from me. I put it out of its misery humanely, but I felt terrible about it.

I discussed at length with Con the most humane way to deal with them, and it seemed that a snap kill trap was so instantaneous as to be as humane and maybe more so than a live trap. I didn't want to use the poisoned bait as that would have just moved the issue from the trap to a random hiding point.

I found their nest after I was sure I'd got them, and they'd just tore up a bit of paper and a poly bag and made a wee nest. It was harrowing to see them get smaller and smaller as the time went on, knowing I'd started taking out the young mice, but it was necessary.

One thing I realised later on was that to have got into the garage, a sealed fire room meaning there was no way into the rest of the house anyway, was there had to be a hole of sorts. I tore the garage apart trying to find it and found it in the fabric of the door. And then I realised quickly that my bait, that was ever so tasty, had actually been bringing the mice into the garage from the outside... to die.

So my 16 mice might have been a good chunk of the local mice populace from the outside.

The hole is now blocked and we're keeping an eye on things. I might have conquered the mice, for now.