HOW TO ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU NOW SHARE YOUR BEDROOM WITH A MOUSE (with pictures!)
We all have to come to terms with certain things at one point or another. Job rejections, sexualities, Britain leaving the EU, the fact that the incredibly pretty cat you keep seeing outside your house will never be yours unless you turn to the life of crime and steal it (which I definitely haven't considered and you should forget I ever mentioned it).
Well, I’ve had to come to terms with my own thing recently. After two years of suspicion, denial and internal conflict, I’ve finally accepted something I’ve been keeping to myself for far too long: I’m currently sharing my room with a mouse.
I’d always suspected it. Since moving into my current house back in 2016, I’ve always heard odd sounds coming from various parts of my room that can't always be explained away. Some of them aren't mysterious at all, mind; my bedroom is adjacent to the neighbours’ bathroom, and I’ll leave the exact noises I hear from there to your imagination, dear reader.
Other noises are a bit more difficult to pinpoint due to the fact that they, well, move around, which strongly suggests I have at least one feral creature living in my attic. I’m no stranger to unwelcome house guests and certainly not afraid of them, largely due to a lifetime of being engaged in a Scooby Doo-style chase with my cat, Wini, and whatever half-eaten wildlife she’s decided to proudly display to the rest of the household. Trust me, a mouse or bat living in the attic is nothing compared to the shit Wini's made me do.
Now, it took me about a year of living in this house to notice a vital flaw in my rat-in-the-attic theory: I don’t have an attic. At least, not above my bedroom. Our house is a classic two-up, two-down with an extension at the back for the kitchen and my room above it. The builders didn’t think to extend the attic to cover my room, so any outdoor noise like rain is distinctly louder in my bedroom than any other room in the house. Combine this with the small size, my neighbours’ screaming kids and my other neighbours’ beer-fuelled toilet activities, my bedroom is basically like living in a family caravan park.
Having realised this, the lack of an attic didn’t change my theory much. Rather than having rats in the attic, the sounds I was hearing were probably just birds or cats wandering around the roof. Sure, sometimes the noise came from the wall behind my bed, but I just put that down to my house’s other ‘extension’: a rotting shed with a plastic roof stapled to the side of our kitchen. Our house is available for viewings for a 2019 lease, if anyone’s interested.
This shed-extension is notoriously creaky and has already had its ‘roof’ (read: three warped plastic sheets which our landlady definitely stole from a bin) replaced after it decided it didn’t fancy being a roof anymore (which is fair enough because it never was one). If it’s a bit windy or a cat uses this shed as a shortcut, it's not unusual to hear it groaning and scraping against my wall. Again, our house is available for viewings from November onwards.
But yeah - mystery solved! Weird scratching sounds? Various outdoor animals! Squeaks and creaks? The shedstension! Shredded wrapper and a bunch of crumbs under my desk?
Okay, that's new.
The discovery of a decimated KitKat beneath my desk was preceded by incidents that I probably shouldn’t have ignored but, being a head-in-sand kind of ostrich in a previous life, I went ahead and ignored anyway. A couple of weeks earlier, I’d woken up in the middle of the night for seemingly no reason, which is pretty out of character for me because I really enjoy being unconscious. As I was lying there in the dark trying to figure out why the hell my dickhead brain had woken me up four hours earlier than needed, I realised I could hear something.
It was a familiar sound, but something about it was off. It wasn’t coming from the roof or the outside of my wall. It was in my room. In fact, it was directly beside my bed.
Placed in this situation, a normal human being with normal reflexes and a normal brain would have sprung up and switched the lights on. Right? Maybe they'd get themselves a torch to check out the source of the noise, or ask someone else to take a look if they felt too nervous. Loud scratching and shuffling sounds coming from thirty centimetres away from your pillow isn’t something anyone should ignore. Only an idiot would ever ignore that.
So I ignored it. Rolled over, closed my eyes, and went back to sleep like the magnificent idiot that I am. By the next morning, I’d either forgotten all about it, or was too busy being late for work to think about it (spoiler: it was the latter). It wasn't until a couple of nights ago that I actually remembered anything about it, but it was too late. Just as I was getting ready to go to bed, I heard it again - and then a new sound.
I’m not really nervous around animals, even ones that are definitely not meant to be inside someone’s bedroom. It's how I've ended up becoming the unofficial animal control officer of any house I'm in. I’m my parents’ designated spider-remover, my housemates’ slug- and moth-remover, and my boss’s baby seagull-remover (that last one is a story in itself). I make sure to never harm or kill; I just remove them so that whoever’s being bothered by them isn’t bothered anymore.
Thing is, when something is in your own bedroom, you suddenly feel incredibly exposed. Especially if you're barefoot, which I immediately remedied by popping on my most intimidating fuzzy toe-socks. It also feels weirdly personal, as if you're being challenged by an outsider on your own turf. This probably explains why I reacted the way I did: not by calmly assessing the situation, but by diving headfirst under the desk. When God gave his creatures the power of fight or flight, he gave unto me only the power of fight and a distinct lack of brain cells.
It was under my desk that I finally met my unwanted roommate of two years. It was peeping out a hole in what appeared to be a boarded-up vent in the corner of my room, and was going absolutely to town on a dropped piece of stale Monster Munch on my floor. Trust me, you've never seen true happiness until you've witnessed a tiny field mouse having the time of its life eating Monster Munch. I couldn’t believe that such a loud noise could come from such a tiny creature and his beloved crumb. As I shuffled a bit closer, the mouse let out another ear-piercing SQUEAK and vanished into my wall, leaving me with its Monster Munch and the horrifying realisation it was already past midnight and that I'd have to stay up even later to deal with my unpleasant discovery.
If it were up to me, I’d do nothing. I’m cool with mice. I don’t particularly want them frolicking about my room and eating my snacks, but other than that I’m perfectly all right with them. Unfortunately for me, two fundamental facts about my current situation stopped me from shrugging my shoulders, accepting defeat and going to bed:
#1: Mice are pests. No matter how cool I am with them, I have a responsibility to keep their population under control lest we are overrun by mice, which would directly result in a lot of unhappy people and a direct decrease in Monster Munch levels. It sucks, but the mouse has got to go if I’m to be a proper member of society and respect everyone's snacking rights.
#2: I live with other people, two of which are phobic of mice to such an extent that they’ve been known to break the Guinness world record for high-jumps at the mere mention of a rodent. If I didn't catch this mouse, my housemates would move out. Or die.
With these two reasons in mind, I left my bedroom and snuck downstairs to fetch the mouse trap we kept in the kitchen after a previous incident. Before touching the trap, I pulled on some rubber gloves to ensure my human stench wouldn't contaminate the trap. Just as I was doing this, I heard a noise behind me for the second time that night, but this time it wasn't the sound of a mouse with a crisp addiction.
It was one of my housemates.
Specifically the one I was planning on never telling about the mouse in case she packs her bags and moves to a neighbouring solar system. Or dies.
At this point I had already resigned myself to the fact that I'd probably have to go to the grave without ever telling a soul about the mouse in my room, but there she was. Just standing there, all pure and innocent, watching as I pulled on a pair of medical gloves as if that's a totally normal thing to do at one in the morning on a school night. I'll be honest with you: I briefly considered lying, but my brain just couldn't think of anything. I instead opted for panicking, blabbing the truth, and running away. No idea how she took the news, but she’s since left the house for a week so I’ll have to let you know if she ever returns. Or dies.
Back in my room, I set up the trap with the ultimate bait: the exact same piece of Monster Munch the mouse loved so much. After a couple of attempts and accidentally trapping my own hand, the trap was set up and good to go, and I was feeling pretty confident. The mouse had already surfaced twice that night, so it probably hadn’t scurried too far off. I’d go to bed with the trap set up, and in the morning it’d all be over.
Well, not all. The trap is a humane one rather than the traditionally gory decapitation or poison methods that most people prefer for some reason. If the mouse took the bait – which I was confident he would – then he would be caught in the tube-like trap and be ready for release when I woke up. Releasing him would be a bit of a hassle as I’d have to get up very early to walk half a mile or so to the nearest park where I’d be able to surreptitiously release him without looking like a madwoman, but I was prepared to do it.
I didn’t do it, though. Why? Because the bastard creature never took the bait. I woke up the next day to find the trap completely and utterly devoid of any rodents. Clearly the mouse was unimpressed with my choice of bait, or perhaps was angry that I’d tampered with his Monster Munch. Regardless of the reason, I knew I had to amp up my efforts, and so I did in the form of crunchy peanut-butter. Trust me: those lumps of cheese you see in cartoons are nothing in the face of peanut-butter when it comes to a mouse’s vices. Just before leaving for work, I left a nice tasty blob of the ultimate mouse-bait on the trap's trigger plate, and placed the Monster Munch in the mouth of the trap for good measure. That night, it would work for sure.
It didn’t. I woke up on Friday morning to no change whatsoever. Before losing my temper and catapulting the mouse trap through the window, I reminded myself that mice are wary creatures, and a change in their surroundings can send them reeling. I accepted it might take a few more days for the mouse to regain its curiosity, and went about with my day.
That was yesterday, and this morning I woke up to a sight at should have sent fury raging through my veins, but I was just too impressed to even be mad. The trap had remained untriggered, but that wasn't what surprised me. What left me in a state of awe was the fact that, while I was asleep, the mouse had left the hole, gone into the trap, avoided the pressure plate by presumably doing a sick backflip over it, and had pulled the Monster Munch clean out of the trap. It hadn't eaten it; it had just left it in plain sight where I'd be able to see it.
So that’s where I am in life right now. I’m sharing my room with a mouse that has proven to be the only creature more passive-aggressive than me on this planet.
You’ve got to respect that, man.
Mared Jones is a writer and goblin whose hobbies include dissociating, luring cats into her garden, misplacing her tea, and writing about herself in the third person.