We're having a bit of a tough time with the wild life here and I don't mean the grandchildren.
When we were sitting quietly having a last cup of tea before bedtime on Tuesday night we heard odd rustlings and louder noises coming from the bookcase. Nothing to be seen though.
I got up the next morning to find the dozen or so nectarines in the fruit bowl and a dish of tomatoes had all been very convincingly nibbled - in fact you could say half-eaten. That was bad enough but there was small animal pooh absolutely everywhere. And it wasn't a mouse....definitely not, definitely much bigger....
We looked in all the usual places but naturally there was no sign of anything. So the next night we strategically placed various trap devices but didn't catch it despite the traps going off .
The next night we put down bigger traps and caught it. We wished we hadn't when we saw we'd killed the most beautiful dormouse. I'd never seen one of these close to - he was such a pretty creature and from our various books we identified him as a Garden Dormouse from the black mask round his eyes like a raccoon and not the rat we thought it must be. There's more info at the Animal Diversity website
But worse was to come when we found a tiny baby dormouse fallen from an empty bird-nesting box and realised that the squeaking sounds we'd heard that morning were the babies calling for their mother. We've put the baby dormouse in a shoe box near the nest with some bits of nectarine and some more nectarine in the nest for the other babies. I don't know if they'll survive as they are still very small although they do have fur and although we can supply them with food scraps I don't know how they'll learn to forage.
We've since read from various French sites that it's not uncommon for these to come in houses and the thing to do is to set a very large two compartment type of "humane " rat trap and then release them back to the wild. At least we know for next time......