Living in Spain, warts and all

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.

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Comments on: "Pathetic murderous hypocrite!" (9)

  1. Poor you. I hate killing things too though I draw the line at cockroaches and mozzies which are bugs from Hell that I can cheerfully dispatch without flinching. As for the contraceptive pill for men. Who’s bright idea was that? I suspect few men will bother since they’re not left holding the baby.

    • It’s a hard call, though, to be selectively brutal. It’s probably where Hitler started…..

      I agree about the Man Pill, too. Show me a bloke who, in the heat of the moment, is gonna confess that he forgot to take it that morning.

  2. Hi Deb,

    I really sympathise with you here. I´m not much for killing anything either and I really like the way in which you describe the wonder of collective activity among animals, often lacking among humans, unfortunately. I don´t have your number, degree or variety of pests but I´ve learned to be selective as Jack has. In the “book” I´ve been “writing” for five years, I mention ahimsa and take a pot shot at those monks who go around with a broom attached to their anatomy to avoid killing even the smallest of creatures. That´s fine if you´re a monk with nothing else to do all day, but I don´t have that energy. So I don´t think you´re being a hypocrite, just a human being with limited resources! I recently read about the buddhist concept that suffering is inevitable and it might just help with such problems, in that you avoid as much suffering as possible but you just can´t get to all of it. Another justification I use is the concept of communion, or halal, if you like, whereby you may need to take a life but you do it in as caring a way as possible, since all wildlife feeds on … all other wildlife! So don´t feel bad – I don´t fancy mice droppings in my drink either!

    • Yes, the Buddhist priciple is that we are all here to learn through suffering (the perpetual samsara, or wandering struggle).

      I’m learning that there is no painless way to deal with an infestation of mice and they’re learning that the large pale creature that treats the parrots so well is actually a killing machine.

  3. Ah! I see what you meant. Debs, whatever else you do STOP USING THE WARFARIN POISON. As you’ve already discovered, it isn’t instantaneous anyway – very few ‘remedies’ are. The risk is that the poison will pass on through the food chain affecting those that scavenge on the corpse or catch the mouse before it dies.
    Now, accepting that something has to be done; that nothing short of a shot through the brain is instantaneous, here is my non-toxic answer.
    Go to the chemist and get a kilo or five of plaster of paris powder. Mix a quantity 50/50 with flour and put it in places or ‘tunnel’ it in such a way that only the mice can get at it. Refresh it regularly. I think you need to know how it affects the mice – when you do something like this it is important. The plaster of paris will solidify in the gut and block it; the result is starvation. Now, starvation is not a painful death, it is peaceful and in the case of mice with their high metabolic rate, fairly quick, and most important, the carcass will not cause harm to scavengers.
    Doing these things, if you have any respect for ‘life’ is tough but the whole history of the evolutionary process is tough too and a conscience is a relatively new genetic quirk.
    ‘Courage mon brave!’ or words to that effect.

  4. Oh, gosh. Thanks, Alan, and we will follow your advice, although while it may protect the food chain it doesn’t actually reassure me. I love my food and I think starving to death would kill me. Er…

    I think I would be “ma brave”, probably, in the same manner that I am blonde rather than blond (but dumb either way). Though I appreciate the sentiments x

  5. didn’t ‘do’English either 😉

  6. Even the Pied Piper of Hamelin´s apparently painless method was ultimately perverted so the plaster of Paris “final solution” is probably called for. Good luck Deb, and poor poor mice. ¿Qué le vamos a hacer?

    • Pobrecitos????
      ¡Mujer! ¡No me lo ponga con la pala!

      I think the Pied Piper of Hamelin just drowned the rats, did he not? I don’t think he harboured perverted thoughts in their direction, although I wouldn’t care to postulate his intentions towards the town’s children.

      I can report that today I have spotted nary a whisker nor a mouse turd, and certainly no corpses. I hope fervently therefore that mice have learned some sort of Pavlovian counter-response that makes them turn tail and flee at the sight of bait.

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