There is nothing quite like arriving at one´s holiday home, dropping the suitcases in the hall, opening the curtains, filling the kettle for a cup of tea and opening the cutlery drawer to be faced with a sprinkling of mouse droppings. After an outraged squawk I opened the other kitchen drawers to find that the mouse, and what appeared to be its entire extended family (there were a lot of droppings) had decided to use the all the drawers as a selection of bathrooms. Under the sink they had cunningly constructed the equivalent of a substantial self build property out of dishwasher tablet boxes and a pile of old dusters. The strange thing was that there was no one in residence and all the droppings were extremely shrivelled and dry. After a massive clear out and an inordinate number of dishwasher cycles to make sure everything was suitable for use in a kitchen again, I announced that we needed to buy a mousetrap.
There was a stunned silence from the family followed by shrieks of outrage from Teenage Daughter and Son. “Don´t be so cruel, the mouse isn´t doing anyone any harm!” It was only when I pointed out that they might not enjoy spaghetti bolognese seasoned with mouse droppings, that they were prepared to consider a trap. “But it has to be a humane one”.
Anyone who has spent any time in rural France will know that humane mousetraps are like hens teeth. All the ironmongers stock the good old fashioned Tom and Jerry mousetraps but ask for a humane trap and you will be met either by a gallic shrug or hoots of laughter and some rather choice comments about mad englishwomen. After a few fruitless and embarrassing shopping trips, I finally tracked down a suitable trap. It was a small steel box with a door on a spring. The idea was that we would bait the spring with some cheddar and the mouse would march in, help himself and the door would clang shut behind him. We would then carry him into the woods and release him wherebye he would swiftly return to the house, which let´s face it, is much more comfortable than a windy, damp forest.
That night, Teenage Son threaded a pungent piece of cheese onto the trigger and carefully placed the trap in the corner of the kitchen. We all went to bed and spent the entire night listening for the distinctive clang that would announce that the mouse had been captured. The next day dawned but the trap was empty. “As it is a french mouse, perhaps it prefers french cheese” suggested Teenage Daughter. So she set the trap with Beaufort. The next day dawned to an empty trap, and the following day. After a week of fruitless trap setting we all forgot about the mouse and as no more droppings appeared, we assumed that it had found the kitchen rather dull and returned to the woods.
It was only at the end of our two week stay that we found out what had happened to the intruder. Husband had run out of his very strong Nespresso capsules and went to the cupboard where further supplies are kept. To his disgust, he found that the mouse had stumbled across the coffee stash and had nibbled its way into every single capsule. There was coffee strewn all over the bottom of the cupboard but it was clear that a large amount had been consumed. The poor mouse had probably had to deal with a very bad trip on a huge amount of caffeine. I can only imagine that having munched its way through so much coffee, it frantically ran around, suffering hallucinations and heart palpitations and eventually made its way outside, vowing never to return to our house of excessively strong coffee. The humane mousetrap is now an ornament on the kitchen shelf as a reminder to other potential rodent intruders but personally I think coffee overdose is just as good at dealing with any mice thinking of making my kitchen their home.
Photo. Sourced from the internet for illustration purposes only