War on mice – updated


The Listener says the late Sir Paul Callaghan’s plan to eradicate all introduced pests won’t work , at least not yet:

Callaghan’s inspiring, visionary and audacious idea of ridding the entire country of pests, allowing natural plants and wildlife to flourish, is worthy of his name and one that New Zealanders should embrace wholeheartedly but for a single, crucial flaw: it will not work. Perhaps one day it might, but not yet. The resources, technology, commitment and public buy-in are not available at present to make the plan achievable.

I can assure you that I have bought in to the idea, am fully committed to it and am doing all I can by stepping up my annual war on mice.

We almost always get signs of invasions in autumn and early winter and this year it’s particularly bad. I’ve spent three hours this morning cleaning out the pantry after spotting mouse dirt there and am about to attack a cupboard in the hall where we’ve never seen evidence of them before.

I took Mark’s advice and bought a rat zapper – although the jury is out on its effectiveness.

I set it in the garage where something took the bait and escaped unscathed. I then brought it inside and caught a mouse the next night. The following morning the bait was still there, the light wasn’t flashing but there was a dead mouse a metre away from the trap.

I moved it to the hall, caught another mouse and put fresh bait in it. This morning the light was flashing and the bait was gone with no sight of whatever it was that took it. *

Conventional traps have caught three mice and I’ve got them set in strategic places. All were still set this morning, but I’m not convinced that means I’ve caught all the intruders.

I’ve also laid poison in places pets and children can’t get to it.

Some battles have been won but the war continues. Sir Paul’s goal is a big one but if we all do what we can, it won’t be an impossible one.

UPDATE:  * My farmer’s just told me he got rid of a dead mouse from the rat zapper while I was away at the weekend but hadn’t re-baited it or turned off the light. My faith in it is restored.

I ventured into the hall cupboard to clean it this afternoon and found the mice had been dining on foam disposable cups and candles.

I also discovered a hole in the wall where a plug had been removed which is probably where at least some of the mice were getting in. I nailed a bit of wood across it and also stuffed tin foil round all the gaps round pipes in the kitchen.

Of mice and woman


I heard a scrabbling noise behind my desk.

I sat very still and waited.

A mouse popped its head round the side of the desk, looked at me and popped back.

My farmer was in the office, I phoned him and told him about the mouse. He laughed.

I retrieved a mousetrap from the laundry, baited it with peanut butter, set it down beside the desk and found something important to do in the office.

When I returned to the house 15 mintues later I checked the trap and found it had done what it’s designed to do.

The wee sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie was an ex-mouse.

First mouse of autumn


Something moved beneath the desk then there was a muffled clunk.

The first mouse of autumn had been caught but unfortunately not killed.

I’ve already confessed I’m not keen on mice and like Busted Blonde I take no prisoners so I dropped the trap and its victim into a bucket of water.

Rats & mice


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.


Poetry in Parenting



This Friday’s poem, Poetry in Parenting  by Karen Gray comes from swings + roundabouts Poems on Parenthood  edited by Emma Neale, published by Godwit.


                       Poetry in Parenting


There is poetry in parenting if you listen for it.

A little face pressed against the window as the southerly hits:

‘Mummy, outside it has just burst into tears,

and the cabbage tree’s hair is in its eyes’

Poetry. And wisdom:

‘I know how the mice got in the roof, Dad – they jumped on the trampoline.’

Visions of mice, like miniature Masai, bouncing.


                       – Karen Gray –

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