A Boy, A Bottle, A Pipe & Tape: Mice!

I have had an ongoing, if minor, problem with some rodents.

First in the garden, then they took up housekeeping in a shed. I cleaned out the shed, and the nest, by the expedient of just taking everything out and putting the whole nest & occupants into the trash can (black plastic in the hot summer sun…) Well, that was fine, but a couple of survivors then moved into the garage… As my garage is also almost completely full of “stuff”, the “empty and toss” strategy is a bit harder…

I bought a commercial spring bail rat trap. They ignore it near as I can tell. I’m not willing to pay $40 for a plastic box with some scented glue in it. So what to do?

Well, of course, I headed to YouTube for ideas. (H/T to Another Ian for motivating me via a ref. to Small Dead Animals) While I’m most fond of the “walk the plank” trap, with a bigger rat sized plank, that will be in the bottom video: I found this video just compelling. Soooo simple. Soooo easy. Sooo effective.

So say you are a young boy in a poor rural 3rd World area with a rodent problem. You’d like to catch some mice, but will NOT have any power tools nor even much in the way of materials. Maybe just an awl (big nail even), some electrical tape, an old soda bottle, and a chunk of PVC pipe. What would you do…

I’d originally thought this next one was the most creative and effective, but it has complicated assembly, a magnet glued into wood (to make the tip/plank more sturdy before it ‘breaks’ and tips) and is much bigger with more parts. Still tempted to make one of these as once the things you hang on the bucket are made, they can be set aside when not in use. Ditto a couple of boards for the “ramps”.

At this point, I’m thinking it would be most effective to knock together one of the “pipe and bottle” traps and let it run while doing all the materials buying and building of the “walk the plank” one.

Any suggestions of a better solution welcome (and no, I don’t want to adopt your cat! ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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20 Responses to A Boy, A Bottle, A Pipe & Tape: Mice!

  1. Shaun says:

    Our mice fall for the spring trap if it is baited with congealed lamb fat. I also mess with the latch until it is set like a hair trigger.

  2. H.R. says:

    I’ve mentioned before that the Mrs. insists on keeping the bird seed next to the corner of the house so mice come in through the basement.

    Mouse traps? Mouse traps?!? We don’ need no steenkin’ mouse traps!

    We have a Scottish Terrier, a Cairn Terrier, and and a cat. Life is nasty, brutish, and short for any mice in the house and voles or moles in the yard. They are stone cold killers.
    One of my math professors told us about a ‘One Rat Rock Trap’ that his unit made for amusement while they were in Vietnam.

    They took an empty fuel drum and ran a ramp to the top. He didn’t elaborate, but I’m sure there was a tilt mechanism like one of those above at the top of the ramp.

    A large rock was put in the bottom of the drum and the drum was filled with enough water that a rat would have to swim, but also covered the rock up to where there was room for only one rat on the rock.

    The first rat in of course hauled out on the rock. Subsequent rats that fell in were either killed by the rat on the rock, fended off and drowned, or were mean enough and big enough to kill the rat on the rock and take over. Natural selection at work.

    After a while, the one rat on the rock would be the biggest, meanest m-effing rat you’d ever want to see. As I recall, they’d let the trap run for quite some time and bet on this or that rat in moments of boredom. He did mention that occasionally, when there was a particularly big and mean rat that couldn’t be knocked off for a few weeks, they would take it out and put in to good use in some greenie Lieutenant’s quarters for another round of a different kind of amusement.

    So that’s the One Rat Rock Trap.

  3. ossqss says:

    @EM, I have used conventional snap traps with a piece of strawberry Twizzler on it successfully many times. They cannot resist peanuts in the shell either. Both hook well to the trip plate on my traps. I used sticky traps a few time successfully, but the last time I got a Gecko and a small Bunny and don’t wish to go through the vegetable oil release process ever again. You will smell the ammonia from their excrement if they have a nest in an enclosed area pretty fast.

    Good Luck!

  4. ossqss says:

    FWIW, some of my neighbors use a flour/cement mix 50/50, but you run a risk of localized decomposition that way. Non-toxic to most others.

  5. p.g.sharrow says:

    We use a trap box. You take a smallish cardboard box a foot cube or a bit larger, cut a small hole in one of the bottom corners varmint size. Install several snap traps inside, we use peanut butter as bait and close top. Put box of traps against wall where the vermin travel with the hole in their line of travel. They will zip right into that inviting hole in that dark box, they can’t resist it. If they trip one of the traps and dodge it the others will get em before they can get out the little hole. Be sure you remember to check the box every few days as long as it is loaded. ;-) …pg

  6. philjourdan says:

    Adopt Hell! We rent by the day!

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    8-) “Rent-A-Cat, Mousers R Us” eh?


    Strawbery Twizzler, eh? Who knew!


    Thinks people do when bored ;-) Ought to film it and put in on TV as a Reality Show “See who gets ‘voted off the island’ this week!”


    Lamb fat, eh? I’m starting to get this idea of lamb fat filled Twizzler glued down with peanut butter ;-)

  8. larrygeiger says:

    I have a cat that you can have. Maybe when you get here to FL. However, he doesn’t catch rodents. He mostly just sleeps. And sheds fur…

  9. wyoskeptic says:

    I’ve had problems with mice that learn about spring traps and become near impossible to catch. What I found that worked well was to soften a small piece of chocolate (Hershey candy bar) to near liquid and smear it all over the trigger. (Peanut butter worked okay, but the varmints could eat it all off and not pop the trigger if they had learned enough.) The chocolate works like a champ. Even the “smart” ones could not resist the temptation and with the chocolate well bonded to the trigger, never had a problem since.
    The only thing I ever found that works better is a feral cat living in the yard. Nice thing about a feral cat is the cat does its thing, I do mine and staying out of each other’s way, we get along fine.

  10. Larry Ledwick says:

    Fresh bread pushed into the loop on the trigger works well too, as the bread gets hard, it becomes impossible for a trap smart mouse to just lick it all off like they can peanut butter.
    Just pinch off some fresh bread press it into a ball of compressed bread and push it into the trigger bar where it loops back on itself Impossible to remove without tripping the trap. A tiny dab of peanut butter to act as an attractant to get them interested, but the real bait is the hard dry bread.

  11. Steve C says:

    For me, the winner so far has to be the One Rat Rock Trap. I’d certainly beat a path to somebody’s door to watch that one working. ;-)

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    It just occurred to me that I had an accidental version of that One Rat Rock Trap in my back yard about 2 years ago. It was entirely accidental, though, and it wasn’t amenable to long duration survival of the One Rat that got into it…

    I had one of my 35 gallon water barrels open under the bird feeder. It had gotten a bit of algae in it and I was going to clean it “someday”.

    Well, birds being messy some of the bird seed got into the drum through the open bung hole and made a “mat” floating on the water about a foot from the top. I didn’t notice any of this for a few months… When I did it was because we opened a window and something outside stunk…

    Investigation showed it was a bloating rat that thought the floating seeds were solid and jumped down the bung hole… only to get tired of swimming after who knows how long.

    I flushed everything of of the drum and shoveled it under a couple of feet of dirt, then washed the drum a couple of times, then turned it upside down along the fence… It’s still there…

    So now I’m thinking maybe it’s a feature… Fill it about a foot from the top. Dump in some bird seed. Maybe float a few PB stuff Twizzlers in it ;-) and set it up where it’s a easy walk to the bung hole… A bit big, but… Just need to check it often enough nothing gets too “rank”.

    don’t know how well it would do in the garage, though. Dumping a 35 gallon barrel is not easy. Think about 288 lbs or 130 kg… wasn’t easy to get the dead rat back out through the bung hole either… Had to use a bent wire to snag it.

    FWIW, I’ve set up 2 x glue traps (just a flat tray of sticky gunk at about $1.50 each) where the critters are known to perch sometimes, and 2 x wire bale traps ( $2.50 each) that were smelling of fresh wood so I hope that doesn’t put them off. I used a Colby Jack cheese lump to wipe my hands before opening / setting the traps (keep human scent down / masked some) and also wiped it over the wood around the trigger. Pressed a lump of it up from behind the trigger into the bait recess, then topped the above side with peanut butter. They are set on what I think is the approach to the ingress / egress point. (A window hole with ledge that fronts a fruit tree). After I’m rodent free, I’ll patch the hole.

    Now, while that commercial set it running, I’m moving on to some interesting DIY kit. As the saying goes “we’ll see”…

  13. Larry Ledwick says:

    I had that how to dump a rain filled trash barrel problem one time. It was full of water logged trash, as the lid had gotten knocked off (blown off) by the wind. Weighed way too much for me to wrestle around.

    One round of .22 short at point blank range into the bottom parallel with the bottom surface of the container. Instant drain hole, came back a couple hours later and could wrestle the soggy trash filled can off the porch and get it dumped so it could dry out.

    Memo : guns are just tools – it depends on how you use them.

  14. H.R. says:

    This one is great, E.M.
    It’s called the Rolling Log mouse trap.

  15. Shar says:

    HR you don’t even need the rolling log part just a smear of peanut butter half way down inside the bucket. I’ve seen mice hanging upsidedown to get at the irresistible PB which is just out of reach.

  16. Steven Fraser says:

    Should tell the local Taxidermist about this. Could be a cottage industry…

  17. H.R. says:

    @Shar: But.. but… but… it’s the cool factor. Those mice just look so surprised.

  18. E.M.Smith says:


    Found a video of one where the “roller” is a large plastic drink bottle and the “pin” is a coat hanger wire… I have a bucket already and a drill… Yeah, that surprised action was precious…

    Then in another video they had traps where the bait must be taken to trigger. The little buggers would “touch and jump” a few times before actually taking the bait (often avoiding the trap)… Now what interested me the most was that the roller type does NOT need the bait to be taken, only curiosity about it.

    So I’m going to be making one of those big pop bottle roller ones as I have all the fixins already and I really like that surprise as they just start to investigate ;-0

  19. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – Looks like you found the videos I saw that were using different home-made roller arrangements. There are a dozen ways to drown a rat.

    Find some bearings the size of the ID of some copper tube, A bit of stout rod instead of coat hanger wire, and you’ve got another slick option for the Mouse Dunker.

    I’ve got two chipmunks the terriers haven’t caught yet and those little buggers are tearing up around the pond and in the flower beds. And they know where the invisible fence runs (Yes they do!). So far, they’ve managed to scamper across the ‘state line’ just steps ahead of the girls.

    So now I’m also getting curious to see just how well chipmunks swim. It’ll break the dogs’ little hearts, though. They love the challenge and won’t give up.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    You don’t want the bearings to be too good. It must feel stiff and secure enough for the rat to walk out onto it. To commit. Then when they get imbalanced, it’s just too late…

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