The Illustrious Campaign of Operation R

The Illustrious Campaign of Operation R

R, of course, meaning ‘rodent’.

Admittedly, we’ve had an on-and-off problem with a certain member of the rodent world for some time now. This is, by the way, pretty much a fact of life when you live as close as we do to a) a river, b) the sea front and c) a busy sea port. But when our mousey friend changed his residence from the kitchen floor to the upstairs landing, a battle plan was formed.

After our first crisis talk (minus me, it must be said), our first offensive was the purchase of two expensive plug-in sonic ‘rodent repelling’ devices which no one understood (if they were honest), but certainly agreed that they looked the business. Installed in strategic vantage points at the bottom of the stairs and beside the kitchen door, the devices beeped and flashed their coloured LED lights across the carpet in a satisfyingly impressive hi-tech way.

After a week or so and several more enemy sightings, we (or rather, my esteemed comrades) however had to admit that the campaign was not going as well as hoped. Either our mouse was deaf, or the noise it was hearing was no more repellant than my brother’s snoring. That was when we decided to upgrade our guns; by investing in traps. My first attempt involved a large bucket of water, the cardboard tube from the loo-roll, books, a wire coat hanger, a pair of pliers and a lot of swearing when the wire was more intent on taking out an eye than bending into shape.

I’d researched online for this highly effective DIY trap. The plan was to suspend the loo roll above the bucket using a (eventually) cunningly-shaped line of wire, with a bit of chocolate on top as lure and a pile of books to act like stairs up to the bucket. The genius idea being, of course, that the rat would smell the chocolate, climb up onto the suspended loo roll, which would then spin and cause the critter to lose its balance and fall into the bucket.

There were a few issues with this method. Firstly, the squeamish part of me objected to the idea of getting up one morning to see a little lifeless furry body floating folornly in the bucket. The second was the book I was reading at the time; Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. Every time I saw the little scunner dashing across the kitchen floor I kept imagining it with a top hat and cane.

So after one evening of listening for splashes, the bucket was back in the yard and we were back to square one. The sonic plug-ins had been as effective as those employed to keep inner city teenagers away from off licenses selling cheap cider. A following experiment the traditional ‘mouse trap’ only served to catch my mum’s finger. So it seemed to us, as a collective, that our artillery was failing and we needed to try a new tactic: capture.

Enter the humane mouse traps which have graced many a dark corner of our house ever since. They’re grey boxy things and shaped vaguely like lumps of cheese, with little plastic flaps which close by their own accord every time someone walks past. It was understandable for example that yesterday, when my mum spotted one of them moving, she opened the flap to check. And according to her, our mouse sauntered leisurely out in the direction of the sink.

So this evening, when I heard a faint rattling noise coming from the kitchen, I blinked before running to fetch her. Because I was not going to touch it, I told her. So I watched with wide eyes from the kitchen doorway while she advanced on the definitely jiggling box with a trusty plastic bag. One soul defining minute later, the offending rat was heading towards the garden behind ours and my galliant mum returned to headquarters rejoicing.

Only to be met by some bad news from inside intelligence. I saw another mouse.

Picture credit: The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Paul Kidby

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