Like many people of my age I grew up with two very famous mice in my life. They were Sylvester’s tormentor, Speedy Gonzales and poor Tom’s nemesis, Jerry. How I used to cheer for those mice as they ran rings around their protagonists. Later in life I faced the real thing, Mus musculus – the house mouse, in my own home. They proved every bit as mischievous and persistent as their cartoon cousins!
I lived in a small stone-built cottage up a track at the back of an old farm in Ireland. It was picture book rural idyl and I enjoyed the peace of the countryside uninterrupted. Well, not quite interrupted as one day a small scuttling noise in the corner of my bedroom suggested trouble was afoot. Trouble, in this case, had four feet and a furry tail.
At first, I tried to ignore the problem. A house mouse, after all, was probably something that went with the territory – surely all country cottages had a mouse or two in residence. Unfortunately, I had more than a mouse or two – there was an entire family of the little rodents camping in my home. Trying to live in harmony with my little furry squatters proved to be a big mistake. Emboldened by my acquiescence the little critters soon came out and played merry hell. They would run around the room as a pack, sticking carefully to the edge of the skirting. Their speed was dazzling, they moved so fast that they’d often be gone by the time I looked up when the sound of their games attracted my attention.
They seemed to be taunting me, in fact I’m absolutely certain to this day that they were! They must have known I was a peacenik vegetarian as they showed absolutely no fear of me. Their courage reached a peak when they started circuit training in my bedroom every night – waiting until I was dropping off to sleep before starting their exertions. The running around the edge of the room was bad enough but things went too far when they started to run directly across my bed en masse, all while I was trying to drift off into a cozy sleep! After a couple of nights of this malarky I decided to go to war with my colony of Mus musculus.
The mice were right, I was in those days too zen to kill them myself but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to see them dead. My solution was simple, I got someone else to do the killing for me. I got a cat. Sri Cat, as I called her, was a scrawny, tough ex-stray and a she was a real killer. She was the feline answer to the Terminator and nothing could stop her from wiping out my mouse problem. One by one she caught and ate the mouse pack. She showed absolutely no mercy and less than a fortnight after she joined my household there was only one furry animal left in the cottage and that was the bearded hippy – me!
In the weeks after the mouse problem I went around the house trying to eradicate any points of entry for mice. I didn’t want them back. It wasn’t just the running across my bed that freaked me out but also the sight of Sri Cat munching on a mouse head in the kitchen. Unfortunately Sri Cat soon ran off, upset that I had deprived her of a diet of tender mouse-flesh. After my harrowing experience with the Irish mouse crew, I would cheer for Sylvester and Tom when watching those old cartoons.
Written by Glenn Le Santo, journalist, social media guru and live event reporter.