Thursday, 24 March 2011

Mouse fun ...

The third member of the household, aka the cat, has discovered his true nature and has taken to massacaring the local rodent population and leaving half chewed mice over the driveway.

In one sense we're sort of pleased about this - there have always been mice about, but this year we seem to have had something of an explosion of the local mouse population as a result of the ending of the drought, the wet summer, and consequent massive increase in the amount of grass seed available to support the mouse population - which have also irritatingly taken to fanging the last of our tomato crop.

This is a complete contrast to last autumn when we had mice in the house. On one occasion, the cat was lying on the sofa half asleep and a mouse ambled across the floor. J prodded the cat, expecting him to leap into action. Instead he opened one eye fully, looked at it, as if to say 'yes it's a mouse - seen them before - don't do mice' and went back to sleep.

The upshot of this was that when we went to Coonabarabran last April, and the cat went to the Cat Motel, we ended up buying and leaving mouse traps out.

Probably the only cat keeping house in Canberra with mouse traps, but there you go.

This year has been totally different. He's discovered his inner predator. One afternoon he killed three mice one after the other. However there's a downside - he likes to share. I've tried explaining to him that we don't eat mice, and that I've asked the bank, but they don't accept mice as part payment for credit card bills. But he still likes to show his caring sharing nature.

This morning he decided to bring us a mouse for breakfast. It was a bit early, about half past four in the morning, and we don't normally have mice for breakfast - muesli, fruit, yoghurt and fairly powerful americano is more our thing. So we declined politely.

On his way out he dropped the mouse, which turned out to still be alive. So I ended up chasing it round the kitchen with the broom to help him catch it again (technique's fairly simple - open back door, get mouse out of corner where its hiding with broom - guide it towards open door with broom - cat rugby tackles mouse and takes it out).

So, these things happen. It's what cats do. However this morning was clearly a special mouse morning. I was just sitting down to breakfast, when the cat reappeared with another live mouse, which he offered to me for breakfast. Cue rerun of scene with broom, much shouting of 'Christ above', including chasing the mouse round the bathroom while J was drying her hair, and eventually the cat took the mouse out.

However, he clearly wanted to get some protein into our diet - five minutes later he was back with what I assume was the same mouse, and again he dropped it, still very much alive on the kitchen floor. More broom work.

This time he got the message and proceeded to kill and eat the rodent on the kitchen step - not quite what you want as an accompaniement to breakfast.

However the SMH's fetish for coming wrapped in half a metre of industrial clingfilm came in useful for disposing of the mouse. And they are mice - not native critters, which might have been a worry - as an ex lab scientist I've seen mice before as well, and I've been checking what he's been killing.

Given that the hill above us turns into bushland reserve there's obviously a concern that he might be going after small furry native animals, but no, just good old fashioned mice.

The good thing is it's getting colder at night as autumn draws in, and hopefuly that'll see an send to it, with the mice hibernating, and the cat turning into a furry lump that spends the day lying in front of the stove ...

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