“It happens every night without fail,” Holbrook said, as he wolfed down some toast Monday between media interviews about the mouse, who has found fame since being caught on camera. Holbrook and the mouse live in Powys, Wales.
“I’ve been inundated,” he said, with queries about the rodent he calls “Welsh Tidy Mouse.” “Got phone calls coming in now, but I won’t answer — I’m talking to you.”
Their tale began in October, when Holbrook ventured out into the shed in his backyard one day only to find that bird food he had been storing there was being moved into a pair of shoes. “Something strange is going on here,” he recalls thinking.
To figure out what was happening after dark, he set up a camera. When he watched the footage, he found that a small mouse was getting to work each evening, moving items he had left out into a short-sided box — essentially decluttering his shed.
Holbrook, an avid wildlife photographer, described the rodent’s behavior as “incredible” and said it has been going on for months. “To do it every night is unbelievable,” he said.
“You think it’d get fed up,” he said of the creature.
Welsh Tidy Mouse is not the first of its kind to be seemingly as obsessed with cleaning as Disney’s Remy is with cooking in Ratatouille.
In 2019, a mouse was filmed moving items around inside a man’s shed in Bristol, England. The rodent was reportedly nicknamed “Brexit mouse” because the shed’s owner joked it was stockpiling for Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Holbrook is aware of the original tidy mouse and said he branded his visitor “Welsh Tidy Mouse” in a nod to his location and so people don’t confuse the two.
Most of the time, the rodent works alone, though sometimes it has accomplices, Holbrook said. In one clip, he spotted two other mice joining the nightly cleanup.
Gareth Davies, founder of Wales-based Pest and Property Solutions, said the mouse is exhibiting such behavior probably because the animals are “miniature hoarders.”
“They are very funny creatures, if I’m honest,” he said. “Mice are very inquisitive creatures, and they are hoarders. They love hoarding food and everything else. It’s in their nature; they are completely different to rats.”
Davies, having watched the footage, said he was skeptical the mouse was intentionally “tidying up” and that it was probably just exhibiting the behavior of a “mass collector.”
It looks like a wood mouse or a house mouse, Davies said, and both types show hoarding behavior. “They love dragging things; they’re like the magpie of the rodent family,” he said.
Holbrook, however, has his own theories. “Maybe it’s just having a bit of fun,” he said. Or the mouse could be taking pity on him as he recovers from prostate cancer. Perhaps the mouse is thinking, “Poor man, he’s so tired I’ll do it for him,” Holbrook joked.
Davies warned that while Holbrook has welcomed his guest, the situation could escalate because mice tend to “reproduce very quickly.”
Holbrook is more worried that the tidy nocturnal guest might not be around forever. “I spied a tawny owl in the tree the other day,” he said, expressing concern that his clutter-proofing friend might fall prey to the bird.
On social media, many were quick to express admiration for the organized rodent, branding it “cute” with the potential to become “a great kids’ animation.”
“I need a Welsh Tidy Mouse in my life,” read one tweet. The mouse has been dubbed “Minnie Kondo” in the British media, after the queen of clean herself, Marie Kondo.
Holbrook said his wife, Linda, “loves” the mouse and “thinks it is really funny.” There’s just one downside, he said: She’s now too scared to go in the shed.