If people just designed things right to begin with… #2

I am normally relatively compassionate. Well, I am if you haven’t done anything that displeases me. So I prefer not to harm anything unless I have to. For example, if I can step over a trail of ants to avoid hurting them, I will. However if you’re a little ant bastard who is crawling all over my chicken wing just because I put down my plate at the picnic for half a second, you can expect a pretty stern talking to.
So when we moved into our house, I did my best to remain mouse-free without having to get nasty: keep food in sealed containers, don’t leave any friendly hiding places, etc. In fact, when I first started seeing signs of mice (chewed packets, and poo, all the poo), I just tried to hide the food chase them out. When this failed, and the mouse poo started spreading into more areas, and I started hearing mice scratching around in the pantry… while I slept… well, the mice were no longer on my christmas card list.
I didn’t want to put down poison, because then I have poisoned mouse corpses laying around (I have kids and dogs, and there is plenty of native wildlife outside my house which may like to eat a slow moving mouse if they ventured outside the house). Also, poisoning sounds slow and painful; a trap is quick, over before the mouse knows what’s happening.

So I went for traps. However, the traps didn’t work! I kept finding mousetraps with no bait on them. I tried a number of attractants, none of them caught the mouse. They all got eaten, but the trap didn’t trigger. I tried:

  • Cheese
  • Peanut butter
  • Ham
  • Raspberry liquorice
  • Mouse attractant paste from Bunnings

The baits got eaten, but the trap didn’t trigger, the mouse wasn’t pushing on the lever hard enough while eating. That’s why I tried the liquorice, I could wedge it under the catch on the lever (this worked once, but that’s it). I straightened the retaining rod, and even used some PTFE sleeve to reduce friction. The problem is that in order to get the required activation force so low that the mouse would trigger it, the trap because so sensitive that I couldn’t set it. It’s a very fine line to walk.

So what’s the solution? If the activation force needs to be above a certain threshold to be useful, then the mouse needs to push harder. How do we convince the mouse to push harder? Well, have a look at this:

I designed an 3D printed small cages that slide onto the trigger plate, into which you place some cheese. If you’re feeling keen, also smear some attractant paste into the gaps in the cage.

This meant that the mouse tried to squeeze it’s nose through the bars of the cage, triggering it. These worked really well, and after just half a dozen uses, we appear to be mouse free! I can see why the original traps weren’t working, because our mice were tiny, so small IĀ could barely feel the weight of it in my hand.

I don’t feel good about killing the mice, but they had to go.

The design for the cage is here, and should fit most standard 50 cent mouse traps (the design opening is to fit 10 mm wide x 1mm thick mousetrap levers):


I hope this helps your rodent problems!