Well, there have been developments on the rodent front. By the end of October, no mice had been harmed in the writing of this blog. In fact, by that point, several days after the new carpets were fitted, I was only giving the traps a cursory glance to confirm either the presence or absence of an ex-mouse. Life was good: the house was cosier, our feet were warmer and commensals were fewer. Then I thought to check that the bait was still in the traps (yeah, you're right, I was checking first thing in the mornings, before my eyes were properly dialled in). Guess what? Nothing. Clean as a whistle.
So I'm pondering "Can a mouse lick off all the peanut butter without springing the trap?" and "Wood lice? Do they even like peanut butter?"
As there had been no further mouse scat, we couldn't immediately answer those questions, so I reset the traps (by this time they were located in the garage, rather than the lounge) with good old-fashioned cheese. Within a few hours, we had us a dead mouse, and we blithely wondered whether that was the end of the matter.
On the following Friday, after several days of zero readings on the mouse-ometer, I retired early as I needed to be up at six the next morning to catch a ferry. As I went to switch off the bedside light, something scurried from under a wardrobe and dashed behind a chair. Bearing in mind that we'd just been watching a tv programme featuring a tarantula, my reaction was reasonably calm.
Yep, it was a mouse. Oddly, decades of wildlife watching can't be unlearnt in a trice, so we spent an interesting half hour contemplating our options, whilst the mouse explored the room. When it sat in one of my slippers and stared back at me, I felt that the time to do something was probably now. Chuntering about lost sleep, rodents with an unerring sense of bad timing, and much else besides, I brought the traps from the garage and placed them in the bedroom. We then spent another half hour watching the mouse run over the traps, dislodging the cheese and caching it under our bed.
My next plan wasn't rocket science, but I needed something to work in a hurry so I could get some shuteye. In fact, forget rocket science, a rock would've been simpler, though the cleaning bill may not have been. I shut all the doors to the corridor in the centre of the house, save for our bedroom and the hall. Once the mouse was herded (ok, maybe not 'herded') into the corridor, it was reasonably easy to trap it in the hall, then open the front door and chase it out. A very temporary solution, I'll admit.
Now, my trip to Caithness (hence the early ferry) turned into an overnighter, so that Our Lass spent Saturday night alone. Almost. She was awakened in the night by a clattering in the corridor, which manifested itself as a mouse repeatedly trying to run up a small set of stepladders (the 3 step variety, just bought, unwrapped, but not put away). As we live in a bungalow, this meant that she could now legitimately sing "I saw a mouse. Where? There on the stair. Where on the stair? Right there!" a la 'A windmill in Old Amsterdam'.
Having taken advice from Sian on Graemsay as to how to catch a mouse in an emergency, Our Lass deployed an empty cereal box to good effect and released the wee beastie in the field over the road. Let's upgrade this solution to the status of 'mildly temporary'.
My return on Sunday was to tales of night time derring-do armed with only a cardboard box, plus pyjama-ed excursions to the Great Outdoors. I don't think either of us were expecting this to be the end of the matter.
Right about now, I recalled the umpteen lectures on hygiene that First and Second Born received when they were out with the RSPB, as teenagers, on mammal trapping surveys. Always wash your hands after handling mice/shrews/voles. It also hit home that the problem might be bigger than we had first thought and that it needed to be nipped in the bud. Harsh, but true.
So, confirming that the garage wasn't mouse-proof and probably impossible to make so, I ensured that the door from the garage to the kitchen was mouse-proof, and also rebaited the traps in the garage with walnuts. Firmly tied to the triggers.
Sure enough, after at least eleven days on the run, in and around Tense Towers, the Bonnie (or Clyde) of Mus domesticus tried one raid too many, its slipper snuggling days were finally over.
I can't say that I blamed it for trying, clogs must be quite chaffing in comparison.