Types of Mousetrap

Definition: A mousetrap is a specialized type of animal trap designed primarily to catch mice; however, it may also trap other small animals. Mousetraps are usually set in an indoor location where there is a suspected infestation of rodents. There are various types of mousetrap, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Larger traps are designed to catch other species of animals; such as rats, squirrels, other small rodents, or other animals.

Spring-loaded bar mousetrap

mousetrap1 Types of Mousetrap
A baited and primed spring-loaded bar mousetrap

Mousetrap, mouse, bait (chocolate)

The first spring-loaded mouse trap was invented by William C. Hooker of Abingdon Illinois, who received US patent 528671 for his design in 1894. James Henry Atkinson, a British inventor who in 1897 invented a prototype called the “Little Nipper”, probably had seen the Hooker trap in the shops or in advertisements and used it as the basis of his model.

It is a simple device with a heavily spring-loaded bar and a trip to release it. Stereotypically, cheese is placed on the trip as bait. Other food such as oats, chocolate, bread, meat, butter and peanut butter are also effective. The spring-loaded bar swings down rapidly and with great force when anything, usually a mouse, touches the trip. The design is such that the mouse’s neck or spinal cord will be broken, or its ribs or skull crushed, by the force of the bar. The trap can be held over a toilet or bin and the dead mouse released into it by pulling the bar. Rats are much larger than mice; a much larger version of the same type of trap is used to kill them. Some spring mouse traps have a plastic extended trigger made to look like a piece of cheese, although this is a marketing ploy to entice purchasers, not mice.

In 1899, John Mast of Lititz, Pennsylvania, filed a U.S. patent for a modification of Hooker’s design that can be “readily set or adjusted with absolute safety to the person attending thereto, avoiding the liability of having his fingers caught or injured by the striker when it is prematurely or accidentally freed or released.”  He obtained the patent at Nov. 17, 1903.

Some modern plastic designs can be set by the pressure of a single finger on a tab.

Mouth mousetrap

Mouth Mousetrap 300x225 Types of Mousetrap A mouth-type mousetrap.
This lightweight mousetrap consists of a set of plastic jaws operated by a coiled spring and triggering mechanism inside the jaws, where the bait is held. The trigger snaps the jaws shut, killing the rodent.

Electric mousetrap

This more recent type of mousetrap delivers a lethal dose of electricity when the rodent completes the circuit by contacting two electrodes located either at the entrance or between the entrance and the bait. The electrodes are housed in an insulated or plastic box to prevent accidental injury to humans and pets. They can be designed for single-catch domestic use or large multiple-catch commercial use. See U.S. Patent 4,250,655 and U.S. Patent 4,780,985

Live catch mousetrap

Live Catch Mousetrap Types of Mousetrap

A live-catch mousetrap. Uninjured mice can be released such as the humane mouse trap that you can build out of a cola bottle by purchasing our ebook!

Other trap designs catch mice alive so that they can be released into the wild. It is important to release the mouse promptly – as mice can die from stress or dehydration – and at some distance, as mice have a strong homing instinct. Survival after release is not guaranteed, since house mice will tend to seek out human buildings, where they might encounter lethal mousetraps or may be eaten by predators. In the wild, house mice are very poor competitors, and cannot survive away from human settlements in areas where other small mammals, such as wood mice, are present.

Glue Mousetraps

Mouse Gluetrap Types of Mousetrap
A mouse stuck in a glue trap. A mouse can be removed from a glue trap by pouring vegetable oil over it.

Glue mousetraps are made using natural or synthetic adhesive applied to cardboard, plastic trays or similar material. Bait can be placed in the center or a scent may be added to the adhesive by the manufacturer. Glue traps are used primarily for rodent control indoors. Glue traps are not effective outdoors due to environmental conditions (moisture, dust) which quickly render the adhesive ineffective. Glue strip or glue tray devices trap the mouse in the sticky glue; mice can be freed from the glue by applying vegetable oil. These types of trap are effective and non-toxic to humans.

Death is much slower than with the traditional type trap, which has prompted animal activists and welfare organisations such as PETA and the RSPCA to oppose the use of glue traps. Trapped mice eventually die from exposure, dehydration, starvation, suffocation, or predation, or are killed by people when the trap is checked. In some jurisdictions the use of glue traps is regulated: Victoria, Australia use of glue traps is restricted to commercial pest control operators and they must be used in accordance with conditions set by the Minister for Agriculture. Other jurisdictions have banned their use entirely; in Ireland it is illegal to import, possess, sell or offer for sale unauthorized traps, including glue traps. This law, the Wildlife (Amendment) Act was passed in 2000.

Bucket Mousetrap

Bucket mousetraps may be lethal or non-lethal. Both types have a ramp which leads to the rim of a deep-walled container, such as a bucket.

The bucket may contain a liquid to drown the trapped mouse. The mouse is baited to the top of the container where it falls into the bucket and drowns. Sometimes soap or caustic or poison chemicals are used in the bucket as killing agents.

In the non-lethal version, the bucket is empty, allowing the mouse to live, but keeping it trapped. The unharmed mouse can be released outdoors.

The variations are many with some being single catch and some multi-catch.

Inert Gas Mousetrap

The RADAR mousetrap, invented by Rentokil Pest Control, kills trapped mice or other rodents with carbon dioxide, then notifies the user by e-mail so that the trap can be quickly emptied and reset. Rentokil claims that the trap is painless and also reduces future mouse deaths by pinpointing the exact location of the trap and how many animals are caught so that their access can be controlled by sealing access holes. PETA has recognized this product as an “animal friendly achievement”.

Disposable Mousetraps

The are several types of one-time use, disposable mousetraps, generally made of inexpensive materials which are designed to be disposed of after catching a mouse. These mousetraps have similar trapping mechanisms as other traps, however, they generally conceal the dead mouse so it can be disposed of without being seen.

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