An Amsterdam Mama recently had unwanted furry house guests, to whom she wanted to show the door. Humanely. Is this even possible with mice?
We live in what is considered a young neighbourhood of the city. The houses are newer, windows are double glazed, heating is by block, and energy consumption is more efficient. A younger home also means being exempt from unwanted guests of the rodent kind. Until recently, that is.
For those wondering, we live in the Oostelijke Havengebied, also called the Eastern Docklands. The neighbourhood was built in the mid-to the late 90s as a high-density, low-rise residential neighbourhood, where homes replaced warehouses that stored grain, cotton, sugar, coal, and other commodities that were shipped into the city. I imagine that a few decades ago, rats and mice must have been flourishing in the hood, especially if one considers the mountains of sugar that were stored here. Luckily, the little critters were driven away when the new homes were built, resulting in many happy rodent-free years. Alas, that came to an end in November last year – 8 months into the lockdown.
Our mouse-counters started when different family members per chanced the little chap scuttling past on many occasions. We ignored the mouse for the first few weeks after the initial sightings, mainly because it did not really bother us. We did make an effort to move, cover, and secure all loose food items, but not much else because we are essentially a lazy bunch. However, when the sightings continued, and I started noticing tiny black mouse droppings lying around, I decided our little houseguest overstayed its welcome.
The list of possibilities to get rid of Mr (or Mrs) Mouse included borrowing the neighbour’s cat. Still, we did not want to see the entrails of the little chap after the feline got it. Sticky rat paper seemed horribly cruel, as once caught, the mouse has to be drowned with the paper. And then the guillotine type mouse catcher; such a gory and horribly medieval way to trap a mouse!
Unable to find a solution, I passed the problem over to my kinder, calmer, and generally far more generous husband, who, after some research, found a mouse-friendly trap on bol.com
This little contraption is a long plastic tube with a weight-sensitive door that slides into place once the mouse is in the tube. The mousetrap was delivered with tiny cups of Fairtrade and organic hazelnut paste to lure the mouse and an instruction manual on treating the mouse gently and humanely. Once the mouse is caught in the trap, it gets very panicky, so you should cover the trap with a tea towel and carefully lift it without making too many sudden or jerky movements. Then, it is recommended that it is best to release the mouse into a neighbourhood garden or field, not too close to your home, lest it finds its way back.
And so, for several days and nights, we positioned the mouse traps, with the opened cup of hazelnut paste, in different places where the mouse had been spotted. The mouse was not a fan of the organic hazelnut bait.
So after about a week, my kind husband replaced the hazelnut paste with some ontbijtkoek smeared with peanut butter… and voila! Within a day, the mouse ran straight into the tube. It was ever so gently delivered to a green, bushy area about 500m from our home. I should mention that the mouse was only bid adieu after it was photographed (without a flash), shown to the kids and me to explain, again, how it was only a harmless, cute field mouse, not a monster, and that every time I screamed, I immensely stressed it out!
Lesson not learnt, I hoped that was the end of the mouse episode in our lives, but it seems our ‘new’ homes are now old, for last week we had another mouse visitor. Better prepared and far more adept, we whipped out the mousetrap, set it up with a Medjool date (owing to it being Ramzan time) smeared with peanut butter, and quickly caught the greedy little guy. He, too, was released into the same green space, and my husband imagines that Mouse 1 and Mouse 2 are now merrily setting up a tiny home of their own...hopefully, far enough from ours.
If you are worried about mice or their bigger, more aggressive cousins, rats, be sure to read this article
Reporting of pests and vermin indoors and outdoors:
Online form Melding Openbare Ruimte (in Dutch).
Call the City of Amsterdam’s information line: 14 020
For advice about pests and vermin, as well as tips on getting rid of them (rodents, birds, insects) in and around your home, garden, or business premises, you can call or send an e-mail to the Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD Amsterdam) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 555 5600.
Tasneem Hatimbhai is originally from India and now lives in Amsterdam with her Dutch husband and their two children. She has been a writer and editor for the last 15 years. In 2012, she started her own company, Mumbai Mills, which sources and creates lifestyle products. She also publishes an annual agenda, "The Mumbai Diary."