Several years ago I had a mouse in my apartment. Being sadly catless, I found myself being awoken every night by skitterings and chewings. Every night, mulling over different mouse trap concepts in my head.
You see, the mousetrap is a sort of DIY right of passage into inventorhood. It pits the wits of man against those of mouse. Mano a mouseo.
After awaking one night to find the little bastard dragging one of my candles away, I started building. What I ended up with was a contraption built of cardboard boxes, fishing wights, levers and brass tubing. It was hardly Alcatraz, but it was effective enough as long as I got to it quickly after it was sprung.
Catching the little guy came with quite a feeling of accomplishment (and relief). I can’t stand poisons. My neighbors once put out some poison only to have the rat die in my wall. It stunk for months. Poisons come with a horrible death and I worry about the risk of the mouse staggering off only to be eaten by a pet.
The other day we started hearing a scrabbling and squeaking coming from the attic. It’s all full of insulation, so tossing the cats up there wasn’t going to be effective. My previous cobbled together solution wasn’t going to hold up long enough to do the job, and I really didn’t know what manner of animal I was dealing with, so I went shopping.
I started under the assumption that I had a roof rat. Unfortunately, the only rat traps I could find were either big electrocuting steel jawed death machines, glue traps, or really poorly made havahart-style traps, but there was a really great mouse trap at Harbor Freight.
The Pro-Ketch (pictured above) is a bit bigger than an old timey video cassette and has two cleverly designed entrances. It’s designed to be put along a wall to appeal to the natural tendency for rodents to run along the edges. It supposedly doesn’t need bait, and is made of steel with a clear plastic window in the top. The entrances have a steel ramp that see-saws on a central hinge. Laying over the bottom of this ramp sits another smaller one, hinged at the base. When the rodent is climbing the ramp, it is standing on the secondary ramp, but when it steps off, it is already past the central pivot of the first ramp and things start to tip, lifting the second ramp to block the exit. Going the rest of the way into the trap causes the smaller ramp to push the main ramp back into the original position, thus priming the trap to catch any addition rodents that are attracted by the first.
I only have tro complaints about the Pro-Ketch trap. First of all, while it comes in a few configurations for location, it really only comes for one size of rodent: small. Second, it doesn’t have a latching mechanism. There isn’t much to stop a mouse from just pushing open the whole lid.
After mostly unsuccessful attempts for a couple nights with various bait, I baited the trap with sunflower butter, putting a thin row of it up each ramp, and a bigger glob in the inside of the trap. I also added a rubber band to ensure it stayed closed. This did the trick almost immediately. Within a couple hours I had caught my mouse and could hear her trying to chew her way out of the metal box. It turns out she was just a cute little house mouse making a lot of racket.
And what became of our unwanted guest? We went for a little walk a few blocks away, where she will now likely be frequenting the home of a particularly irritating neighbor.
There is another nearly identical version of this trap (available with very quick shipping via amazon), the Tin Cat by Victor. Or you could build your own.