Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mouse Hunt...lessons for all.

We've a nice black pet rabbit at home with the very imaginative name "Bunny". Technically Bunny belongs to our 17 year old Shona but we are all involved in his upkeep. In my own case - living with a wife and three daughters - Bunny is the nearest I get to household male bonding...blessed art thou amongst women! Our rabbit's only oddity is that he won't eat carrots - but maybe we're too conditioned to a Bugs Bunny view of the species.

Pre-Christmas an uninvited little mouse set up residence in Bunny's hutch in the back garden. The mouse was quick enough and small enough to temporarily escape through the hutch wire mesh any time we got too close.

Ostensibly it seemed like a harmony of nature scenario...the mouse didn't want to eat the rabbit and the rabbit didn't seem to want to eat the mouse, hence they were irrelevant to each other! However it created a fair bit of debate chez nous. Was Bunny stressed by the mouse? It was hard to tell. The local pet shop owner shrugged and thought "it didn't seem right". But you can never get a good rabbit psychiatrist in Dublin. I began to wonder if it was just us who was being stressed - humans trying to assign our feelings to animals....Yann Mattel's novel Life of Pi comes to mind. Much easier to get a psychiatrist for humans.

Anyhow, pressurised by majority household opinion and no doubt subliminally influenced by too much American TV, I explored the military option. We will make the rabbit's hutch a safe place for rabbits, terrorist mice have no place in this sovereign hutch. We know what is best for Bunny. No expense will be spared, the mouse will be hunted, brought to justice and yes...executed.

The most appropriate weaponry was purchased...a mouse trap.

Years of watching Tom and Gerry cartoons educates you. Mice love cheese. So I put nice cheddar cheese in the trap and placed it into the sleeping quarters of the hutch during the day - when Bunny spends his time in the separate "exercise run" - a 36 Sq ft. garden play pen I constructed for him. I was confident of success. I had made an eloquent pithy speech the previous evening to the daughters..."This is the last sunset the mouse will enjoy on Earth". Smug, cocky.

Mousey did enjoy the following sunset. Indeed he continued to enjoy sunset after sunset. The cheese was ignored. Each morning I tried different bait - variations of cheese types, chocolate, even bits bits of Bunny's cereal. I tried the trap in different parts of the sleeping area. All failed. The food was ignored.

I persevered. It took a full two weeks to catch the little fecker. In the end the food seemed unimportant. When caught, the mouse looked like he had accidentally walked sideways across the trap - the bar had crushed his torso from shoulder to hip. Poor bugger, could have been a slow death.

So we and Bunny had a peaceful mouse-free Christmas. Then one January morning, like a Hollywood nightmare, we had....Mouse 2 !

Army council recalled. Mouse trap set again. A few days later not only had I still not caught the villain but - adding insult to injury - we had yet another mouse! Now we were dealing with two mice making a home.

This was serious. It needed a rethink. Our garden backs on to a golf course and the expanse of Killiney Hill - a lot of nature out there to potentially supply even more field mice. I was also getting frustrated by my military strategy. If it takes two weeks to catch one mouse.....etc, etc. Furthermore, my women wondered if these two were mammy and daddy mice. What if they have babies? It could create all sorts of issues by killing a parent. Ya don't want that on your conscience.

Like great US Presidents of the past....I thought about a withdrawal option. We debated it at home. We decided to move Bunny's sleeping hutch into the house - we have an ideal small porch type room adjacent to the back garden. Problem solved. Bunny now plays in the big outdoor playpen by day and sleeps peacefully indoors - with the additional bonus of avoiding the cruel January night weather. No more stress, struggles, weapons (traps now decommisioned) or deaths.

Maybe I should e-mail the story to George Bush.


graham said...

Surprisingly, mice and rabbits get on very well. Indeed, mice often squat in the hidden recesses of rabbit warrens in the wild. You've no need to worry. In fact, if I were you I would encourage it. Field mice have a hard enough time as it is.

John of Dublin said...

Thanks Graham. Interesting, I'm not entirely surprised to hear that. It seems like what I felt intuitively - that WE were stressed by it, not the rabbit. But the idea of a family of mice in his hutch was not our cup of tea. The withdrawal option seemed the best compromise.

There is a further option I haven't ruled out for the summer - I could get an extra fine mesh for the hutch that even mice can't get through. But I'm also aware of the many foxes in the Killiney Hill area at night - they might not get into the hutch but could frighten the crap out of Bunny by trying!