That’s him. Apodemus sylvaticus. Little Bugg*r. Houdini. He lives in a hole underneath the bird table. And he doesn’t live alone.
You may recall we purchased a couple of mousetraps over the summer. They worked OK rather too well and Mike ended up making many a 4 mile round trip to introduce our little friends to habitats new. It was probably the luminescent Marigold rubber gloves that got to him in truth but, whatever the reason, mouse trapping was declared suspended before it had really begun.
A month or so later, in the face of a small furry rodent population explosion, it was time to try again. To make the whole exercise a little less onerous a change in approach was called for. Rather than drive for miles out into the countryside we’d just pop them over the other side of the river. And hope they can’t swim. It’s still not entirely straightforward. With all the rain of recent weeks the river has been running very high. Over the top of Mike’s wellies in fact. It needed a finely judged route across stepping stones and he didn’t always come back dry.
And then how to tell if the mice were themselves coming back? I wanted to use spray dye. A can of the stuff that shepherds use on sheep. But sadly the mice scamper away rather too quickly for that, denying themselves the opportunity of a sporting, and rather fetching, Stabilo blue bum.
All went well for a couple of days. Then, walking down the steps to the greenhouse, I spotted a mouse in the trap and mentioned it to Mike. It could only have been a matter of minutes before he came to collect it but, when he did, the trap was empty. It was made clear that I was mistaken and I did wonder, not for the first time, about the possible consequences of my advancing middle age.
The traps were re-laid.
Next morning they sat silent and deserted. No mice. But, more to the point, no bait either. Just a few tell tale crumbs. Something had got in. And something had got out again too. The traps were clearly malfunctioning.
Nothing for it then but to order three brand new traps. Mike carefully prepared three peanut butter sandwiches and placed one in each. The next morning? Yep, you guessed. The mice have it all figured out. We are no longer mouse trapping. We are providing feeding stations. And no doubt a very comfortable shelter for the night.