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Student Life

What's worse than finding a mouse in your flat?

Student houses aren’t always in the best nick, but vermin aren’t the only things you need to worry about. Eleanor Doughty discovered the one thing worse than finding a mouse behind her dresser...

There are some scenarios that should not be handled alone, and after ten pm. Largely, this surrounds rodents - or potential rodents - leaking taps, broken boilers and dodgy shower hoses. Bizarrely, this has been the run down of the last month in my matchbox flat.

A post-hangover Saturday evening usually comprises nothing more than a horrific television schedule – Saturday nights out are for old people, or the Essex-in-Shoreditch-influx – and multiple trips to the marmite toast machine. Despite being regaled with stories concerning my friends' mice-infested kitchens or fox-tempting gardens, I have consistently denied the potential for rodent invasion. Other than varied irrational fears that primarily include baked beans, custard and rice, I'm quite fearless. Back in the not-so-rolling hills of my anonymous country existence, the cat regularly deposits decapitated creatures and larger clover-nibbling mammals under my bed, proudly smiling and purring like a Lotus. It occurred to me during mousegate - as this shall be known - that I had never actually dealt with it myself.

Upon hearing a suspicious sound that was definitely not a burglar, or upstairs (E1’s loudest residents) my evening appetite subsided and was replaced by a nauseous fear. Mostly for my shoes, and my electrical items. And my slippers. With no carnivorous cat to settle my fears, I produced a well-worn hockey stick and prepared to bludgeon a small animal with it. Clearly, the scratching, rattling sound had to be a mouse – there were no other options, right?

Moving my jumper drawer – a task I do not wish on anyone – displaced what I thought to be a dead creature that flew onto my bed and under the covers. Cue nightmare, horror movie face – I am not able to deal with this. Clearly the idea that it could be dead bypassed me as I took to a chair and stood there squeaking – characteristic, I later mused – at the prospect of bed-share with something with a tail. I am such a girl. An array of now-embarrassing panic-stricken phone calls to respectable men in the area ensued, as I remained paralysed by the idea that I might have to sleep in the kitchen. Logical thought had clearly deserted me. Rationality: gone.

Two hours and three cups of chamomile tea later found that the ticking, whirring, scratching, but let's not forget suspiciously rodent-like sound was nothing but a dodgy seal on some chilli lemonade. After all that. Post-anxiety trauma, hot flush repetition and hockey stick fishing, my accomplice and I discovered that the 'dead animal' was nothing but a sock – the simple removal of the suspect bottle banished any further noise complaints.

When I packed my belongings and moved to the metropolis, I did not expect to be spending any time atop a wobbly chair brandishing a fibre-glass curved weapon. And in the name of what? A sock? Tragic. With mousegate over, leaving me feeling very stupid but yet still paranoid, my housing challenge quota is up for this term. Rodent terror is quite enough for this little heart, even if there was nothing there.

So if you hear something suspicious and you're home alone, don't immediately assume it's a rare species of wild mouse baying for your blood. It could be, but it's probably not.

Eleanor Doughty is a second-year student at Queen Mary, University of London. Follow her on Twitter here. She won't follow you back.