By Guy O’Connell
In truth, there’s always been, but parts of Fitzrovia are like a Greek Island holiday for the little creatures. The house mouse (Mus Musculus, Mus Domesticus) long ago found a place in the small flats and restaurants of our home turf. They are a part of life, but they contaminate food and they spread disease.
Residents divide on how to deal with them. One friend has a live trap, and releases any captives in Regent’s Park (think “Shawshank Redemption.”) Another has a snap trap, which he baits with peanut butter. The mouse in his place eats the nutty lure most nights, while the device itself only ever seems to snap on his toes as he stumbles into the kitchen for a midnight trip. My neighbour has invested in a cat, and whatever it does to the mice, it’s also learnt to poop at will on our window-ledge. Bingo, no more mouse droppings, just cat poo instead.
There may be much to admire in a mouse. Wikipedia claims that the female of the species has five (count them) five pairs of mammary glands and nipples. They can squeeze through the smallest of holes, down to 6 mm, and scarcely ever need a drink.
But Camden Council warns that they are a health hazard. Our high score of pubs restaurants and multi-occupancy houses mean that the mouse population is a real part of life here in Fitzrovia. Council officials advise that “where more than 15% of properties in a block have problems with mice, we recommend the whole block be treated as one programme.”
Here at FN we’re conducting a small, mouse sized survey, do contact us to let us know if you see more of the mouse now than in the past. What should be done? While you’re thinking about it, here’s an old proverb “never throw a stone at the mouse, and break the precious vase.”
Mice have been very evident in my building, for the first time to my knowledge, this winter. It is a rambling collection of flats housed in three adjacent Georgian houses, and they can be heard scuttling around behind panelling.
I have caught live ones in my rubbish bin, but not having the heart to kill them have let them go outside, which is apparently useless as their homing sense of smell can work up to a mile away.
A humane solution to the problem that I recommend to your readers is the liberal use of peppermint oil. Buy the cheapest 100% strength online or wherever, put several drops on cotton wool balls and distribute wherever you think the mice hang out, usually wherever you have seen droppings. Also, you can poke doused cotton wool into any potential mousey portals, bearing in mind that mice can get through a gap the width of a pencil. The mice hate the smell and vacate, you end up with a fresh smelling mouse free environment.
To catch them alive, smear peanut butter around the inside top edge of a bucket, and make a makeshift access ramp of boxes, tins, whatever. The critters love the peanut butter and climb up and in, but then can’t climb the smooth sides of the bucket.
Good luck fellow denizens of Fitzrovia in you fight against mus musculus.
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