I abhor the idea of killing anything, as anyone who knows me will vouch. The snuffing out of a life light, to whomsoever or whatsoever it belongs, does not strike me as being my right. Especially creatures that live in colonies and show us how successful we could be if we acted together for the common good instead of perpetuating the selfish beat-thy-neighbour must-have culture that abounds.
I verbalise this as a reluctance to play god. But it’s not a religious thing – I don’t believe in religions, although I do think, in accordance with the first law of thermodynamics, that life energy cannot be created nor destroyed and so choose to believe that there is an energy pool from which comes and to which returns each spark of life. I also believe that this pool is full of good and bad energies – probably more of the latter, in fact, given the state of the world.
And I further choose to believe that joint efforts, the pulling in the same direction, can make us great. Even on a small level, most of us enjoy the feeling of being part of something co-operative. Just look at the way a crowd reacts to a “flash mob” choir or dance troupe, and feel the positivity.
For example, see the T-mobile advert screened last year – http://youtu.be/NB3NPNM4xgo – and check out how good it makes the audience feel! I always cry at these things – with an emotional pride for that of which we are capable when we pull together!
Anyway, where was I? I was saying that I really don’t do killing.
So when we had a problem with ants swarming all over the parrot houses last year, I spent a great deal of time, sweat and tears trying daily to sweep them out gently without damaging them, because I admire the way they communicate to locate a food source, the way they work together to transport the food back to the nest, and the assistance they give to a damaged member of the team. I certainly don’t feel permitted to destroy them.
However, I was half-killing myself trying to shield them, and must confess to some secret and guilty relief when John finally just flushed them all out with soapy water – although I couldn’t do it myself.
I have previously mentioned that we have, in the same way, a now-critical infestation of mice in there. I do not find these little creatures repugnant nor scary (in all honesty, the only creature that truly frightens me is man). The mice are cute and inquisitive, and quite delighted, thanks to the parrots, to have found such an abundantly welcoming neighbourhood in which to set up home. They are warm, sheltered, protected from the cats, and exceedingly well-fed.
So they breed. Ridiculously fast. And suddenly the cute little things become a vast nuisance.
Further, the presence of the mice in such numbers attracts all the rat snakes who, in their turn, consider it a very cosy set-up, thank you so very much. Therefore we suffer a double whammy.
I have tried to use live traps, with success. Bait, trap, transport and set free. But I was only catching a paltry three or four a day! The number of replacement mice is far greater than the number I can catch and remove, so obviously the population of mice in residence was increasing. Eventually, we have reached the point where the parrots can no longer eat or drink from their provision bowls, even suspended as they are towards the top of the flights, since they are chock full of mice droppings.
And so my abject confession – I, who feel no right whatsoever to terminate anything, have had to agree to the distribution in there of rat poison. What a murderous hypocrite.
I took the time to read all the labels carefully in the local farmers’ co-operative. I made John buy the (most expensive) one that promised instantaneous death with a single dose. And I let him tuck the little red sachets into all the nooks and crannies used by the mice and their families.
But yesterday I found a dead mouse in the sink in the food prep area – poisoned as assured and dead from massive internal haemorrhaging. Not instantaneous, though, despite their promises – the trail of blood was long and painful to see, and it cut me into ribbons. What a pathetic murderous hypocrite.
Miserably, I went into Lucas’ flight to collect his bowls to prepare breakfast – and there, hanging above my head, was a dead mouse with its head through the cage roof and its throat torn out by Lucas, who was regarding me dispassionately with body language that clearly read, “Look and learn, you feeble creature”.
It all sits so badly with me. How the hell do I reconcile this one?
I have spotted a news item today regarding virus-vectored contraception that is proving very effective in the lab amongst mice populations during studies that aim eventually to provide the contraceptive pill for men. I wonder who I would need to contact to ask if they would care to carry out field studies here? Or just send me the stuff?
Failing that, perhaps I need an empathy by-pass.