A few months ago, my dad and I tidied the small 6×4 plastic shed at Cosy Cottage. It had got so crammed with random tools, D. I. Y miscellanea and various bags of chicken grain and corn that no one could actually enter the building. It was while doing this that, out of the corner of my eye, I glimpse some thing that was tiny and dark flash past me. It was so quick, I pretended to myself I hadn’t seen it.
Fast forward another month and I am letting the hens out. Dottie is, as always, herself. Florence and Jemima are going through a prolonged broody phase which means I have to physically carry them out of the coop into their run. I bend down to lift Jemima when I, once again, spot something speeding by.
Not knowing what this is gives me the creeps. But my hens’ health and safety is important so I need to check just what is lurking in the coop.
I gingerly lift the tray where the grit bowl sits on. A nervous moment. Something scurries away, under the next tray, where the water bowl resides on top.
Gritting my teeth, I lift this tray and see two beady black eyes look at me, in a furry brown face unmistakably mouse.
Now, I am nervous of many things but I don’t fear mice. So now I know what and who this rapid motion belongs to, I feel calm.
The mouse then runs away from me towards the wire mesh.
My colleague with the allotment plot, James, had a rat who got stuck in the mesh in his coop. A horrible scenario and one which the rat did not survive.
Thankfully, the mouse avoids entrapment on the mesh.
Through a mercifully quick game of ‘Escape the Scary Big Human’, the mouse finds his way out of the open coop door to adventures elsewhere (I hope).
The rat/mouse issue is one which can puzzle a hen keeper. I actually wouldn’t mind too much if it was just the one mouse but how many mice are going to remain celibate and not invite their extended family to rich pickings in Dottie’s house?
And then their numbers can get too numerous and the neighbours might complain and a multitude of diseases spring up… All because of mice or rats.
So what to do? Some people would opt for poison or trapping. I wouldn’t judge anyone who does but hope I am never in that ‘last resort’ situation. I am screamish about killing, even small rodents. Also there is the horrid possibility of killing another animal inadvertently.
Molly and Teddy, the Jack Russells, would gladly help out but I would prefer not to inflict the Two Terrible Terrors onto an innocent creature! 🐶🐶
Under the trays and in the coop itself, I realised old grain and corn had accumulated and, obviously, this had been irresistible for our friend. You see, mice and rats are not attracted to chickens. But they do find grain delicious. Not just chicken food though, they also like what they see on bird feeders and compost heaps too.
So following one major spring clean of the coop and a more thorough regular cleaning routine and I have my fingers crossed that I will not encounter Mr Mouse again. 🐁🐀🐁
I forgot to mention there was a tiny gap at the bottom of the coop door, now blocked by a small piece of wood.
So my advice, gathered from books, magazines and the Internet is – keep on top of your cleaning regime so there is nothing to attract mice and rats. And block any mouse or rat-sized gaps in the coop. And fingers crossed! But if you have any more ideas, please leave me a comment. Advice always welcomed! ☺️
Facts of the Day
1. Mice generally have pointed faces, big eyes, prominent ears and a long thin tail. Rats are larger, with coarse fur and scaly tails.
2. Types of mice include house, wood, yellow-necked, harvest and dormice.
3. Voles and shrew could be mistaken for mice. Voles are chubby and have short noses and small eyes. Shrews are tiny and have pointed noses.
(Information from Readers’ Digest, The Best of Wild Britain)
I’ll leave the final words to Robert Burns (Rabbie to the Scots!) 🐀