Eek, there’s a mouse in the kitchen!

A hungry student hoping to enjoy a quiet lunch in the 5th floor eatery had a nasty surprise this term – a mouse appeared out of a hole in the wall next to her table.

The student, who did not want to be named, spotted the mouse as she put her tray on the table and sat down. She said: “I was shocked and jumped up. It was staring at me. It didn’t seem scared – I was the one who was scared. It was horrible. It put me off my food. I was very upset.”

The unwelcome lunch guest lingered for about 30 seconds, perhaps hoping to be offered a morsel. Eventually it disappeared down a neighbouring hole (see picture). The student discreetly reported the incident to a canteen worker, then retired to another seat as far away from the mouse as possible.

What disappointed the student, however, was that despite reporting the sighting, two days later she was in the eatery again and saw another student jump up from the table she had previously occupied – he also had seen a mouse, and he also reported it.

These incidents happened several weeks ago, but when your Lamp and Owl reporter went to the scene recently with the student the holes were still there.

A spokeswoman for the college confirmed that mice were seen from time to time by staff and students. She said droppings found confirm that the problem is mice rather than rats. A pest control company is contracted to visit monthly and check bait boxes which are placed around the canteen. The pest controllers also come out the day after mouse sightings to investigate.

The eatery is run by the catering company Sodexo. It passed an inspection by council health officers in October.

The holes in the canteen have now been blocked up, so diners should now be able to enjoy their meals in peace. But anyone spotting more mice in college buildings – or indeed any other unpleasant beasties or creepy-crawlies, such as rats, cockroaches, fruit fly infestations, etc – is encouraged to report them to Lamp and Owl – and of course the college authorities.

Meanwhile the college may be best advised to invest in a cat, with good mousing instincts – perhaps it could be called Tom.

Simon Steele

I am a freelance journalist and a student at Birkbeck College, studying web design.

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