A Better Mousetrap

A well known adage claims that “If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat  a path to your door”.

While I don’t know if there’s any truth to the saying, I do know a thing or two about mousetraps.  That’s because I live in a rural area.  Every year, as the colder weather of late Autumn descends, hoardes of mice head indoors, seeking to escape the chill.  They invade our barns as well as our homes, bringing filth, disease and destruction along with them.  Their bigger brethren, ratus ratus is also a regular tenant wherever livestock are kept or livestock feedstuffs are stored.   They just love stored hay and pretty much anything else that isn’t stored in metal containers.  It isn’t only the loss and spoilage that these creatures cause, but also the damage they do to pretty much anything that is chewable, including electrical wiring.

There is an endless variety of mousetraps out there but I want to share two designs that I have found really useful and better than anything I found at the hardware store.

The first is a simple modification of the standard mouse and rat traps that we are so familiar with.  If you like setting these traps as much as most folks do … and if you hate having to set them off, re-bait them and reset them when they don’t work … you’ll love this simple solution.

Have you ever noticed how rats and mice will rarely run across the middle of the floor?  They always scoot along the wall, against the skirting boards or along the horizontal beams in the barn. You can use that knowledge to make a bait-free mouse or rat trap.  Traditional, wooden mouse traps always have a trip bar with a couple of little spikes that hold the bait on.  Cut yourself a square of plastic about the same size as the nasty side of your mouse trap.  Bend the bait spikes straight up and impale your plastic square on them, before bending them down flat.  They’ll hold the plastic firmly in place.

Now, you need only set the trap and slide it up against the wall.  There’s no bait to get stolen or go stale.  When your mouse or rat comes along, hugging the wall for safety, he will scramble over the trap and activate the plastic trigger.IMG_5238 [1024x768]

Not everybody is willing to use these traditional traps.  Some people have moral objections to snuffing their rodent guests and others quake at the gory business of removing the victims.

An alternative trap that I find extremely effective involves a 20 litre (5 gallon) drum, about ten cents worth of materials and a bit of time in the workshop.

The trap is simply a six inch length of very carefully balanced PVC pipe, held in a wire frame (coat hanger wire is good) which is attached to a wooden block.  It has a paper clip attached to the outer end of the pipe to hold the bait (peanut paste/peanut butter is the go).  The trap is placed on a workbench or other form of suitable height and the five gallon drum is located directly beneath.

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When your mouse smells the bait, he will either enter the pipe or scramble on top of it and head towards the outer end.  His body weight will cause the pipe to tip vertically and there is nothing for him to hang onto.  He will be deposited into the drum beneath and the trap, now free of the mouse’s weight, will reset itself with the pipe returning to the horizontal position.  You’ll be amazed how many mice you can catch this way, without them ever managing to steal the bait.

What you put in the drum is a matter for you to decide.  Some people will partly fill the drum with water and the hapless mouse will drown.  We didn’t much care for that idea, so we just used an empty drum to begin with.  That doesn’t work.  Believe it or not, a tiny mouse will have no trouble launching himself from the solid bottom of a 20 litre drum and escaping over the top.  The solution that we found was to place screwed up newspaper in the bottom of the drum.  The mice will hide amongst the paper where they will feel secure and any attempt to jump out will be frustrated by the cushioning effect of the paper.

So there you go.  not one, but two “better mousetraps”.   I hope these ideas will prove as helpful to you, as they have to me.  They aren’t fanciful notions that seem like a good idea but are untried.  They are practical solutions that I use all the time.

Cheers All,

Andrew. 2015-05-14



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Thank you, Andrew.


1 thought on “A Better Mousetrap

  1. Have to laugh at this one and gotta show hubby when he gets home his work has mouse problems and our youngest daughter has them in plagues in winter so will make up fir her as yeah hate thought if killing them like that, I winder if Vaseline up sides of bucket will stop them getting out or making a hole in the lid so only mouse falls in and harder to get out, I live leaving paper in there but where or want do you do with them after hehehe, why haven’t I found your blog sooner we have needed this in OZ for years we Alex Askeroff the Henry family in USA and ISMACS in UK and other blogs but great we have one here we’d need our own vintage sewing machine site like the Facebook one as I have feet and bits to give away cheaply as got loads of odds and ends from odd boxes so have few extra feet I don not need and even 306k cover plates and ruffler my oldest daughter found on side of road during winters last council kern side cleanup, went looking for machine or case as my case is in a bad way want to kero as much of what original wood I have but no hinge that holds it back, but the side plate and clip to hold machine down, no clamps on side to hold the non exist ant top either and nooone can tell me the dimensions so I can try getting one made for my machine as want to gift it to my daughter in law as she loves vintage machines like me, my youngest daughter does but not as bad as us and middle daughter hates sewing can’t even sew yet mum me owns so many machines old a couple new and two embroidery machines given to me from my mother in law, and mt pfaff grand quilter I use in my quilting frame but am hoping to hook up my 66 model to quilt on as seen videos of it being done on vintage sewing machines facebook site, even the embroidery those ladies do with no feet they are on you tube too, great site

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