They Still Haven’t Built A Better Mousetrap

“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”

This famous (mis)quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson is used to describe the value in improving a basic product.

His advice has also been taken literally. Since William Hooker of Abingdon, Ill. invented the spring-loaded mousetrap in 1894, more than 4,400 patents for new mousetraps have been filed in the U.S.

But has anyone really improved on the spring trap?

A recent protracted and methodical battle with a mouse in my apartment suggests they have not. Below I will detail four unsuccessful and one successful methods for catching mice.



When I notified my landlord of a mouse, he called the exterminator, and the exterminator deployed several plastic Mouse Snap Traps, which are supposed to be a safer, simpler version of the spring-trap. But after two weeks, the mouse had not been caught — and it was definitely still out there.




I decided to take measures into my own hands. I walked down to Duane Reade and picked up a couple of No-Mess Mouse Spin Traps, which looked sophisticated and even sort of fun. The trap works by luring a mouse with preinstalled bait into a chamber, which spins shut, killing the mouse instantly and notifying the trapper of its catch with a easy-to-read dial.

But after a week, the mouse was still out there. Clearly the mouse I was dealing with was smart. I also worried that it was too large to walk into the trap (even though the trap-maker promises that mice can squeeze into small holes).




I was done playing around. I went back to Duane Reade and bought the largest, most expensive trap at the store: the $11 Rat Killer bait station. This device works by luring rodents with poisoned bait, which they eat and then go off and die somewhere. I was nervous, however, about sending a rodent to die and rot in my walls. After reading about the trap on the Internet, I was even more nervous. From Tomcat FAQ:

Q: Are there poisons (baits) available where rodents won’t smell when they die?

A: NO. Regardless of the bait used, a natural decomposition process always takes place with a distinctive odor.

Q: Are there poisons (baits) available that will make rodents go outside looking for water?

A: Eating bait will not change a rodent’s “normal” water requirements. It is a myth that rodents will seek water outdoors after eating a bait and then die outdoors. There is adequate water in your home to meet all rodent needs. If water wasn’t available, rodents wouldn’t live there.

After reading this, I got rid of the trap. I didn’t want to deal with dead rodent smell.




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Next up: Glue BoardsI bought eight of these suckers and distributed them around my kitchen. The spin traps were still in place too. It was getting hard to walk in my kitchen without stepping on a trap.

And yet the mouse still appeared every night, ducking under the stove, between the sink and the fridge, and in any other opening. It was even getting bolder, one night venturing into the living room and almost climbing onto the couch, before getting chased away.




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Finally I bought four of the old-fashioned wood spring traps. I smeared the bait holders with peanut butter and set them around my kitchen, along with the other 10 traps.

The first night — nothing. But the following evening when I came home from work and walked into the kitchen without turning on the light, I almost stepped on it. A spring trap was in the middle of the room, apparently dragged there, and a dead mouse lay in the metal jaws.

You can’t beat the classics.

Note: The glue board and spring trap I used were from a minor brand, but I’ve linked to the Tomcat version for comparison’s sake.

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