Benjamin Franklin said “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”
Well, we’ve had a guest in the dining room for twelve days and that was eleven days too many.
It was my fault in the first place. I was sitting there, tapping away on the laptop when there was a sudden skittering in the hallway and Leo, one of my tabbies, dashed in looking rather invigorated with something dangling from his mouth.
Before I knew it, the dog-owning instinct kicked in and I shouted “DROP!”
So, being part dog, he did. The mouse scarpered behind the sideboard. The sideboard is extremely heavy, being full of crockery, and I had somewhere to go that evening so I shut the door and left the mouse.
“But the mouse needs food and water. We don’t want him dying while we’re out,” said Capt Sensible.
We put down a little bowl of water and some croutons just in case he had hunger pangs before he was caught and returned to Outside.
With hindsight that was probably unnecessary. Mouse was a resourceful creature. Next day we found he’d had a go at a banana in the fruitbowl. He wasn’t so much a desert rat as a dessert mouse.
I removed all fruit and got a humane trap from B&Q for under a fiver. It featured a small tray with a circle of brown stuff that was supposed to be delicious to mice.
Well, overnight Mouse dragged the little tray out on to the carpet and did a little poo on it, which seemed to sum up what he thought of the menu so far.
I wasn’t too worried. I mean, it’d be pretty easy to catch. We caught one without meaning to once in a big bag of birdfood in the garage. A shiny-eyed, cute-eared little woodmouse was there, imprisoned in his seventh heaven because he couldn’t leap high enough to escape from the bag.
I knew Mouse liked croutons so re-baited the trap with some Ocado rosemary and garlic croutons. Turns out he did like them. They disappeared every time.
On the Sunday, there was nothing for it but to empty the sideboard and pull it from the wall – but not before I built, using framed paintings and large books, a rather spiffy Mouse expressway to the Outdoors. When the sideboard was shifted, hey presto, zilch – not even crouton crumbs. Mouse had relocated. He was either in the organ or the piano.
Leo was brought in. It was his mouse, after all. He walked over to the organ, settled into sphinx position near the pedals and prepared for the Long Wait. But hey, a boy needs catfood, water and a comfy sofa so it was clear he didn’t have the stamina required.
I shut the door to the dining room again, scoured the internet for human mouse-catching ideas and set up a variety of challenging and delicious puzzles for Mouse – all cunningly designed to conclude with him thinking “Doh” and being unable to get out of the bottom of a bucket.
The one I was most confident in was a bottle with a slim narrow neck, coated with olive oil and with peanut butter (they love that, apparently) all around the cap, which was poised over a deep bucket. ‘Mouse crawls along bottle towards cap, slides off bottle, drops into bucket and stays there’ was the plan.
There was also a trap based on the ‘mouse in the birdfood bag’ thing.. in which I put sunflower seeds in the bottom of a deep bucket. Mouse climbs into bucket, eats seeds and can’t leave, was the plan.
Mouse proved to be an agile little blighter. The sunflower seeds were disappearing.. there were a few mouse poos in the bucket he should have dropped into… and the chocolate…YES Chocolate! (desperate measures etc..) was vanishing like magic from the B&Q trap.
I spent some time playing the piano – which usually repels anyone – and then tried a bit of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue on full volume but Mouse remained unmoved.
The first night Mouse somehow resisted the distinctive allure of peanut-butter coated cheese, even though I’d removed the failed peanut butter trap and the bucket of seed.
Last night, he succumbed.
There, in the trap this morning, was Mouse – a very small, very scared and probably quite full-up wood mouse crouched at the back where the food had been. He looked very sorry for himself.
I took him out into the garden and liberated him under the plum tree. In a second he was gone beneath the undergrowth.
Leo mooched about the organ in a regretful sort of way but lost interest when I cleaned and thoroughly disinfected the room.
Benjamin Franklin was dead right about visitors, except they don’t all smell of fish…this one was 100% Mouse!
(well ok, one just like him)