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Mouse in the compost bin
There’s a mouse living in my compost bin. I first saw it one evening the other week, when I added a fresh layer of tomato side shoots and yellowing leaves. It leapt out of the bin and charged through the border. That frog looks just like a mouse, I thought (it was dark).
Then last weekend, as I took the fork to gently turn the compost, it leapt out and ran off again, only this time I could see it was a mouse (a wood mouse I think, not a house mouse). I let out a faint scream of surprise, spent around 20 seconds worrying what the neighbours would think, and then relaxed, happy with our new arrival.
My bumblebees (RIP) were rescued from friends who were landscaping their garden; some of my frogs were rescued from a kitchen drain and the rest I picked up from a lady who filled in her pond and advertised the frogs on Freecycle, having kept them in a jar all day. The mouse came all by itself.
I’m impressed the mouse found my garden. It’s not like a normal garden, with neighbouring plots separated by fences and hedges – things that make it easy to travel between them. It backs on to a cycle path, has walls on either side and is surrounded by concrete. Yet here it is, a mouse, living in my compost bin.
The great thing about mice is that they have an important role in the lifecycle of bumblebees. Many species of bumblebee nest in old mouse holes. It’s thought that they’re attracted by the smell, and the strong whiff of mouse could even deter wax moths from finding and laying eggs inside the nest. So I’m hoping that, if this mouse sticks around, bumblebees might be encouraged to nest in my garden too.
I don’t know if I have one mouse or a family (though I suspect it’s only a matter of time before there are more of them). I emptied the bin a few weeks ago and there was no sign of a nest (just the usual giant slugs, earwigs and some ant eggs). I’m not sure how I’ll feel if it does start a family – my garden isn’t big enough to support many – but for now I’m happy. Perhaps it’s just a lone mouse scouting for a hibernation site. It might spend the winter in the compost bin making the whole heap smell of mouse, ready for nest-searching bumblebee queens in spring. I hope so.
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