Following Methven’s scarecrow trail, the last thing I expected was for nursery rhyme stars to move in with me, but while the straw figures are now long gone, it seems some of the critters are here to stay. Three, to be exact, although they appeared to have had cataract surgery as they were definitely not blind.
Cooler weather and weatherboard houses seem to be a recipe for mice around here, which has been a new experience. While we had plenty of mice in my flat in Auckland, they were all of the computer-gaming variety, so my experience of the rodents was limited to nursery rhymes about blind ones and the film Stuart Little.
The real life version is nothing like in a story book or a nursery rhyme. Instead, our first encounter was more like a scene from a horror movie. It went something like this: Dark and stormy night. Protagonist home alone, minding her own business. Mysterious zombie scratching sounds heard. No sign of source. Protagonist left wondering if she has gone mad until suddenly a hoard of rodents batter down the door and devour her whole.
OK, so the last scene may be a slight embellishment, but the discovery of droppings after a spooky sleepless night sealed the deal – it was time to buy a mouse trap.
I don’t have the best track record with traps. Last time I dealt with one it was to dispose of the rat in my parents’ attic. Dispose of it I did, but I was subsequently discharged from pest duty after throwing away Dad’s best trap, rat entwined. I resolved that this time, I would get it right.
The mouse traps available at the local hardware store looked more like giant clothes pegs than a pest control device, with their moulded grey plastic, spring loaded action and no-touch release. At first I was rather suspicious as they didn’t look very sensitive. Then I made the mistake of putting my finger in the vicinity of the jaws whilst taking one off the shelf, and all my fears were eclipsed by a shooting pain. While testing a trap with your fingers may not be the preferred method of ascertaining function, any doubts as to its effectiveness were allayed.
Three mice later, the traps are still going strong and the night time noises have ceased. While mice are an autumn fact of life down here, I’m still hoping that the only mouse in our place from now on stays firmly attached to the computer. Still, it might pay to keep a carving knife handy, just in case…
Originally Published in The Ashburton Guardian