Forget Beatrix Potter and her sweet little animals dressed up like cuddly dolls, there is nothing attractive about mice.
They may play an important role in nature’s great story and if they stay outside as nature intended I’m happy to leave them to it. But once they skitter inside, as they inevitably do at this time of year, I declare war and I take no prisoners – when it comes to mice inside I aim to kill.
It’s not something I take any pleasure in, but it’s a job which has to be done and I do it. So, contrary to the stereotypes about women and mice I don’t leap on the nearest chair when I spot one. Instead I top up the poison which is left in various places accessible to mice but not children or other animals, bait several traps with peanut butter and wait.
It doesn’t usually take long before I start catching them and having baited and laid the traps it’s usually my job to empty them too which, thanks to the modern plastic ones can be done by pinching one end which lets the mouse fall out the other without having to touch it.
Only once have I been faced with a live mouse in a trap and that had been caught by a leg. Killing remotely by poison or trap is one thing, bloodying my hands by doing the deed directly is another but I couldn’t leave it to suffer until someone turned up to help. I decided drowning was the least painful way for the mouse and me so filled a bucket of water and dropped the trap in.
However much I don’t like mice I can cope with them dead and alive but I have to confess that rats are another story.
I don’t take any comfort from the theory they’re more afraid of me than I am of them, because it that was the case they’d die of fright before they even saw me and the one I noticed sunning itself on the step by my front door the other day couldn’t have been more relaxed.
I backed away, summoned my farmer who grabbed a spade to dispatch it but it was too quick for him. He went to find the poison but we’d run out and we both forgot about it. But I’ve just been reminded again because the rat which I saw on Sunday or a close relative has just run up the side of the house.
It’s the outside but that’s still far too close for comfort.