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Karen Kay on the invasion of unwanted lodgers

PUBLISHED: 12:58 21 November 2014 | UPDATED: 12:58 21 November 2014

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Karen’s tetchy confession: apologies for seeming unhinged, but a ruthless band of greedy and unwanted lodgers has left us feeling somewhat murderous

Oh! The relief! I woke recently after sleeping through the night for the first time in months. The sense of feeling rested brought a sense of joy to our household. In fact, so thrilled are we at the blissful prospect of peaceful sleep ahead that we can confidently declare a state of euphoria.

We are not, as you might assume, new parents, feeling our way through the early months of a baby’s arrival, robotically rising to feed and change a small being in return for warm nuzzles in the dark of night. No such reward for our interrupted slumber.

No, we are the victims of a siege: one that has left me at my wits end as I endure the misery that is a loft inhabited by glis glis. Their frenzied scurrying torments us as we try to ignore the familiar pitter patter of miniscule feet navigating the attic.

My husband and I know all too well why sleep deprivation is a form of torture: broken sleep leaves you a broken being, functioning only on the most basic levels, and struggling to make sense of the world. Thank goodness I am not in possession of state secrets because I would happily hand them over in exchange for eight hours continuous contact with my pillow.

And we’re not alone. Countless local friends talk in hushed tones of the invasion of the glis glis. There is still a stigma about the idea that you have rodents in your home, yet once you confide you are being harassed by their presence, there is an outpouring of relief from others suffering similar distress courtesy of these uninvited lodgers.

The anguish is hard to explain unless you have experienced their existence firsthand. Normally a fairly composed individual, I have been reduced to an exhausted, blubbering wreck by these furry vermin, as they scuttle back and forth above our bed. At times, I feel utterly deranged, driven to distraction by the hive of activity at the top of my house. I have made poor decisions and lost all sense of rational thinking, as my brain battles through the fog of overwhelming, all-consuming fatigue. Ladies, imagine the worst case of PMT and multiply it one hundred-fold. It is no understatement to say that this summer, we felt unhinged and, quite frankly, murderous.

Thank you, Lionel Walter Rothschild, for importing these little pests onto British soil at the start of the last century (please note a pained note of sarcasm in my voice at this point). The Rothschilds have brought much that is good to our lives: indeed, Waddesdon Manor, the splendid, art-filled stately home nestling in the Chilterns, is one of our favourite family haunts and we are looking forward to their annual Christmas light installation in the gardens. I also have it on good authority that the muntjac deer was another of their philanthropic ‘donations’ to our countryside. But, I’m afraid the introduction of ‘edible dormice’, the beady-eyed mammal with the fluffy tale, was a step too far. In just over 100 years their population has slowly spread, but mention these little beasts beyond Bucks, Herts and Beds and you’ll be greeted with a quizzical look that questions your sanity. Londoners believe I have lost the plot when I talk of squirrel-like creatures that dine on the contents of our garage and loft. “They run vertically up the wall cavity, and have teeth like something from a horror film”, I explain, aware my eyes are filled with the desperation of someone pleading not to be mocked.

They have eaten through electricity cables, triggering our burglar alarm at 3am. They munch on Christmas decorations and paperwork, and anything else that takes their fancy. Somehow, they have the slight of foot to nab the perfectly poised bait, positioned ready to trigger our plethora of traps, and make their escape. Some, in their haste to depart, lose their tails - thanks to an evolutionary quirk clearly designed to avoid capture by larger mammals (such as yours truly), the skin breaks easily and slides off the underlying vertebrae, which eventually heals and forms new tail fur.

We have caught dozens this summer, under license from a local pest control officer attempting to ‘proof’ our Victorian home from the annual siege. One September night my triumphant, but weary, husband lined up seven corpses, and became faintly hysterical at the sight of his haul.

This wretched existence is the bane of our summer. Which is why I am grateful for Autumn. As the glis glis have fattened themselves up ready to hibernate for the winter, my family can enjoy a few blissful months of sound slumber, before the spring brings with it yet another season of mass distraction and destruction.

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Read on

Karen Kay on a few megabytes of misery

Karen Kay on the cold, hard truth about school meals

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