Homemade and Store Bought Mouse Trap Designs That Work

by Paul Michael on 5 April 2011 5 comments

Do you have an unwelcome visitor right now? Have you seen evidence of a mouse? Do you want it gone? Well, this collection of mouse trap designs will have something for every persuasion.

If you want humane mouse traps, there are a bunch. If you want something more "final," there are mouse traps that will do the job, too. Although let's be honest, it's hardly a mouse trap — more like a mouse executioner. And whether you want to make them yourself or pop down to the hardware stores, there will be something in this list to rid you of that rambunctious rodent.

Homemade Humane Traps

I prefer these. My basic reasoning is simple; the mouse, or mice, are just looking for food and shelter. They're not invaders that are trying to cause trouble — they just want a warm place to call home and a food supply. However, they also breed like wildfire, do damage to wires and walls, and some carry disease, so to that end I don't want them getting comfortable. But death, well that seems a bit harsh for me right now.

When I saw the telltale signs of mouse activity in my garage (a bag of grass seed had been nibbled, droppings were left in various places) I knew we had to act fast. So I looked for ways to catch and release the blighters.

The Toilet Paper Tube

Yes, this one uses something every one of us should have in the home. It's easy to set up, works like a charm and doesn't hurt the mouse.

  • Crease two lines down the toilet paper tube and shape it to form a flat-bottomed tunnel.
  • Place a treat at the end of the tube. Not cheese — that's a myth. Try peanut butter.
  • Balance your baited tube on the edge of a table top or counter in the area where your mouse is scurrying around.
  • Below that tube, place a bucket with tall sides.

The mouse, sniffing the treat, will walk into the tube. As soon as he's more than halfway in, the tube and mouse will fall into the bucket. And voila, mousey will be there until you release him. When you do, take him far enough away so that he doesn't come back. Then, repeat. Mice breed quickly. Make sure you get them all.

The Coffee Can

This is another simple but effective human trap, once again using household items.

  • Place a piece of construction paper over an empty coffee can.
  • Keep the paper in place by securing a large rubber band around the rim.
  • Cut an X shape in the top, stopping about 1 inch from the edges of the can.
  • Place the can on the floor, and put a large flat stick (like a paint stirring stick) from the floor to the top of the can. Secure with tape if needed.
  • Sprinkle food on the stick and on the top of the paper.

The idea here is that little mousey sniffs out the food, climbs the stick, wanders onto the seemingly flat surface, which then gives way and he falls in.

The One Way Wheel

This one makes use of an old CD or DVD spindle, turning it into a one-way wheel that the mouse can climb over but cannot climb back the other way. I won't even begin to go into all the steps in this post — I'll leave that to the experts. So check out Homemade Humane Mousetraps.

The 2-Liter Soda Bottle

Again, although this one uses everyday household items, it's not something that's quick and easy to explain. The basic idea is to cut a soda bottle in half, place the top upside down inside the base, and fix together. This creates a funnel with a sealed base that traps the mouse. Ingenious, safe and cheap. Get the complete instructions at Apartment Therapy.

Homemade "Deadly" Traps

If you'd rather not deal with moving the trapped mouse into another location, try these ideas.

The Altoids Tin

I don't think there's a simpler homemade mouse trap out there. All you need to do is put three rubber bands around the closed Altoids tin. The bands should be loose. Then, open the tin and the bands will stretch and load the trap. It's a good idea to put bait inside the tin before you pull it open.

Now, the trap is set. As soon as a mouse touches the case, it will snap shut. Bingo, one trapped (and hopefully dead) mouse.

A Cat

OK, I lied. This is the simplest trap, but it's not always an option. We happen to have a cat, so we put him in the garage for a few nights and let him go to work. He loves hunting for the mice.

If he's lucky, he'll catch one. But usually, the presence of a cat is enough to make the mice leave, and that's what we were hoping for. However, since death is an option with this method, I have included it in the deadly traps section. And as you know, cats love to play with their prey before the kill, which in itself may be a reason you want to think twice about the cat solution.

The Repeating Bucket Trap

Technically, this one could also be put in the humane section, if you exclude the water. But as the most success seems to come from having water in the bucket, I'm leaving it in this category.

You'll need a 5-gallon bucket, a Styrofoam plate, a wire coat hanger, two sticks, peanut butter, and water.

  • Drill two small holes either side of the bucket, just under the rim. If your bucket has a handle, remove it and use those holes.
  • Cut the long, straight section from the bottom of wire coat hanger.
  • Feed the wire through one hole on the bucket, then thread it through the plate and finally into the other hole.
  • Add two or three inches of water to the bucket.
  • Prop a stick on each side of the bucket to allow mice easy access.
  • Place peanut butter on the edge of the plate that is over the water.
  • Flip the plate and bait the other side.

Now, you have a plate that will flip over each time a mouse walks on it, making this a trap that resets itself. Get the complete instructions with pictures at Backwoods Home Magazine. Like I said, try it without the water if you want a humane version, but the author seems to indicate that water makes it impossible for the mouse to climb back out. I am reliably informed that the mice will drown quickly, but it's not instant. This is why you may want to stay away from this one if that bothers you.

If you're not interested in a repeating trap, another version replaces the plate with an empty beer or soda can. Thread the wire through it, and bait it. The can will spin when the mouse walks over it, dropping him in the water.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

Store Bought Mouse Traps

If building your own is not an option you like, try picking one of these up at a store.

Catch-A Mouse (Humane)

A great little device from GreenBottleUSA that simply attaches to an empty 2-liter soda bottle.

Mice Cube (Humane)

Simple and very affordable, these basically use a one-way door to let the mouse in, but not out. Prices start under $10 and they can be used over and over again.

Smart Mouse Trap (Humane)

A little house for your little mouse. Approved by PETA and costing around $15, the Humane Smart Mousetrap operate on the same principal as the Mice Cube.

Traditional Spring-Loaded Traps (Lethal)

Mouse traps

If money is tight and you want the mice dead, then the cheapest way to kill mice quickly, is with an old-fashioned spring-loaded trap.

I talked to several exterminators who said they are effective and the design is hard to improve upon (hence the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “If a man can...make a better mousetrap, the world will make a beaten path to his door.” They're about 50 cents each, and kill instantly. Just keep any kids or animals away from them, you don't want to deal with injuries to anyone else.

Traps To Avoid

Even if you want the mouse dead, there are better ways to go about it than poison or glue traps. Either way, the mouse suffers an agonizing death and it's completely unnecessary. Killing mice is one thing. Torturing them for days, and having them try to chew off their own feet or die from internal bleeding should not be acceptable.

Additional photo credits: Ken_Mayer, o.casey, Lara604
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Guest's picture

We brought in a stray about 3.5 years ago. One of those big paws big joweled cats. Absolutely adorable, friendly and quite possibly the best mouser cat i've ever had. I guess it was out of necessity but he catches anything that gets into our house ... and promptly drops it at my feet.

Guest's picture

Rodents have an extremely fast respiratory rate. If they hit water, they drown quickly...it's over in under a minute.

Guest's picture
Anonymous

Note that urban rats can tread water for DAYS. And if released will have one wicked case of PTSD. (as if anyone cares) Use vegitable oil instead.

Guest's picture

If you have only a few mice I'm all for humane traps and releasing the little critters far from home. If however you have a mice invasion and you live in a city, you have to take no-fooling-around measures. Though I totally agree that cruel glue traps are to be avoided:

http://savvysavingbytes.com/2010/08/my-uptown-mice-war/

Andrea Karim's picture

Make sure to check humane traps often - mice die very quickly if deprived of food and water. I used to work for a tech company and we had a mouse invasion. I set a couple of humane traps, and didn't cehck them over the weekend - it turned out that the dead mouse I found was a mother mouse had made a nest in someone's oatmeal packets.

Once the babies were located, I took them home and raised them until they were big enough to manage on their own. I am SUCH a sucker.