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Of Mice and Hens


What an exciting start to the week we had! One of the Gillyboys was putting his books in his school bag first thing on Monday morning when a little mouse popped out from the front pocket of his bag and ran into the cloakroom. Our brave Gillyboy ran the other direction!
If you suffer from musophobia you may want to run the other direction from this blog post too!
We’ve had a few mice in the past and after some consideration of the alternatives already own a sonic repellent plug and two traps. These have now been set with peanut butter as bait. The modern mouse no longer finds cheese as attractive as it once did. My theory is that the sonic waves will deter the mouse from coming back, and so the traps will not be necessary. So far, this theory is holding out, there is no sign of Mickey (or Minnie) Mouse and the traps are empty.
Why is it so bad to have mice about the house? If they enter into the home wild mice may carry parasites and diseases that are harmful to humans and animals, including Salmonella and Listeria. They leave droppings in and around food and chew through packaging. Another significant problem is the structural damage mice can cause from their gnawing and burrowing activities. This ranges from minor holes in walls/doors/furniture/cupboards to structural collapse, flooding, electrical faults and fire (due to gnawing through cables). Crikey. Sounds more like an episode of Tom and Jerry.
Apart from an actual sighting, you will know that you’ve got a mouse problem when you see droppings (typically around five millimetres long) found near food sources, evidence of gnawing, hear scratching noises, burrows or nests, or smell a strong musky odour.
Mice are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active at twilight (dawn and dusk), although they can sometimes be seen during the day. They have poor eyesight and are colour blind, but have acute hearing and a good sense of smell and taste. Mice are capable of reproducing from four weeks old and have an average litter size of 9-12 young. This is probably the scariest fact of all…
So once you know you have a mouse lodger, what can you do about it? There are quite a few options –
Snap traps are generally humane but unpleasant. They are cheap to buy and reusable.
Live humane traps may appeal, they don’t maim or kill, just trap the mouse for you to release (nor right outside your door) but ‘dumping’ the mouse in the wild is likely to lead to its death. Also, if you don’t take it at least 2km away, it may well arrive back home before you!
Indoor devices that use electromagnetic interference or ultrasound to drive rats and mice out. The sound is inaudible to us but shrieking to them. It doesn’t seem to bother the dogs.
Anti-coagulant poisons cause a slow, painful death. Nasty but effective. Trouble is, they stink. Poor mousey may crawl down some tiny crack behind the fridge to rot and die, leaving an unbearable pong for weeks.
Sticky paper. Great for catching young mice so light they can nip food from the traps without setting them off. But glue catches, not kills. You have to do that bit yourself. In the meantime the wee mouse is eating off its own feet to try to escape. Horrible.
Prevention is easiest: repair broken air brick and holes in outside walls, floorboards or skirting boards; tidy up cupboards and remove nesting material. Mice however can get through a hole as small as the tip of a ball point pen.
I have one other solution – hens apparently love to catch mice, almost as much as cats do. There are pictures of this but they are just too grisly to post here. This could be a whole new business venture for the Gillybirds – egg producers and pest controllers.
The funny thing was , one of the books he was putting in his school bag was John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”.



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The Mousetrap Mystery

In the evenings we are often entertained by the movements of a very small mouse running around at the background of the house.
The gillybirds also stop what they are doing to watch this “mini” mouse (sorry for the pun) though I think should it stray into the coop they would have it pulled apart between them if it didn’t run fast enough.
Early one morning I was opening the coop door when the mouse hopped over my bare feet. I’m not the squealing kind, but it fairly woke me up!
At the local hardware store I was chatting to the shop assistant about how many homes have mice just now when lo and behold a mouse popped out from under a shelf and ran the length of the pest control aisle right in front of us. I’m sure I could hear it saying ” nah na na nah na! Can’t catch me!”
Apparently a local Pest Control officer calls every morning to the shop to remove the mice caught during the night. They have a serious problem and as a result are having to stop selling bird seed which the mice are gorging themselves on.
Undaunted, I purchased two traps, loaded them with Nutella and set them up where neither curious hen nor dog could get caught.
The next morning the bait was taken, but no mice caught.
Mouse 1 Mrs Gillybirds 0
I switched from Nutella to peanut butter.
Now this morning I awoke to discover that one of the traps is completely gone. Disappeared. Vanished. Missing.
Is there a mouse with a trap stuck to its tail lying injured somewhere?
Or did the mouse get caught and then mouse, trap and all were taken by an opportunistic fox?
I wish I knew.
It’s a mousetrap mystery.

I previously wrote about an encounter with mice in blog post called of mice and hens

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