Clever non-lethal mousetraps

Designer Roger Arquer makes non-lethal mousetraps from household items.

Using everyday household objects like a clear drinking glass, metal springs, paper clips, and a metal nut, this "friendlier" mousetrap won't kill off your rodent infestation, but instead will just provide an easy way for you to transport them outside. The designer's intent is that you can re-use the objects after you catch the mouse. I think I would probably wash them a few hundred times first.



  1. All well and good, though I find the 4 legged ‘I can has mouse’ trap to work just fine in terms of rodent management. Though not so humane.

  2. that’s very cute… but i’m afraid that, for the crime of entering my house as a rodent, the punishment is death.

  3. I’ve done this sort of thing before, and that glass won’t cut it. You need a really steep-sided trash can about three or four feet high to keep a mouse from jumping out.

  4. when I was a kid we always had hamsters and gerbils. they would always escape, and this is similar to how we would catch them. a fishbowl with a ramp works great!

  5. Cellania at #3: no kidding. I cannot believe how far a determined mouse can jump.

    And that’s a gerbil in the picture. The only thing that’s keeping that gerbil in there is curiosity. (“Wow, I’ve never seen one of these glasses before!”)

  6. As far as I’m concerned, the point of a clever mouse trap IS to kill the mouse.

    As pointed out above, a glass will trap a mouse for about 0.1 seconds before it jumps to safety. More importantly, if you think tossing a mouse out in the garden is going to keep it from either re-entering your home or breeding more mice (who can then enter your home en masse) , then you’re ready for a dunce cap.

  7. I built something like this using a 40 gal. trash can, a broom handle and a shoebox top. I caught one of the little monsters but there was another that simply jumped right out every night.

  8. The mice just returned to our home, winter drives them indoors I believe. So off I trot to Lowe’s and I buy two 49 Cent peanut butter traps and two $18.99 electronic mousetraps. In 2.5 days we’ve caught seven, countem, seven mice and all using the low-tech 49 Cent traps.

    I noticed this morning that in one of the hi-tech ‘electronic’ traps, a mouse had crawled in, apparently balanced itself on one of the electrocution pads and proceeded to nibble off almost all of the peanut butter, and then exited the tunnel of death pointing his rodenty middle digit firmly in my general direction.

    We now check the traps with great regularity as it is currently proving more exciting that the TV!

  9. I once found, in a small kettle on a shelf in the family cabin^H^H^H^H^Hshack, a sad little mouse skeleton. It struck me that the shape was much like that of a medieval oubliette; mice fall in and can’t get out.

  10. Maybe that photo above would be more believable if it didn’t use cheese since mice don’t actually eat cheese…

  11. Heheh, reminds of a prof I had who bought those sticky traps with the idea of removing the mice and letting them go, only to find that if you pull on the mice, they come off, but their legs stay.

    Seriously, the old mousetraps are the most effective and humane way of dealing with the problem. If you’ve ever seen one actually catch a mouse, the mouse usually doesn’t even know what hit him. His last thought is “Ooo! Yummy peanut butter…” Not a bad way to go at all.

    My mom used to have this thing that had a turning trap door that would fling the mouse or mice into a holding cage. I think the idea was to let them go, but she would put it in the sink and fill it up with water past the top of the trap. I thought and think this was the most cruel way you could deal with the problem.

  12. The guys in the machine shop next store used to balance a ruler off the edge of the desk with a cookie on the end. When the mouse went out the ruler to get the cookie the whole works would tumble into the strategically placed trashcan below.

    The mice could jump to within an inch or so of the top of the can, but couldn’t quite escape.

    In the morning they would come over to my place and borrow the cat.

    Eventually it became easier to just borrow the cat for the night.

    I am not sure how many of these designs have been successfully field tested. They look pretty theoretical to me.

  13. His heart is in the right place, but unfortunately, mice don’t live in the wild. They will just go right back into your house or your neighbor’s house or whatever. They have evolved in harmony with humans, so “wild” mice are completely different than the ones in your house. If you do manage to let them go in the wild far away from civilization, they will most likely be eaten.

    On a different note, the idea of throwing a live mouse away in the trash just bugged me so much that I had to put them into a bag and smash them with a bottle or something. That was quite unsettling in and of itself, so I quit using glue traps after one experience. The old-fashioned ones that snap their necks are really the best.

  14. Yeah, great, spare the rodents.

    You’ll remember your good deeds when you’re asking yourself, “Gee, why do I have these painfully swollen buboes?”

  15. this is designer bullshit. i’ve never met a mouse who couldn’t get out of any of his so called traps. if you want a design for a humane trap that works, email me and i’ll send you the design. it doesn’t cost you anything to make, works effectively and consistently. my daughter and i adapted and improved upon a method we found online. all our neighbours use it with great results. having mice in your house is not a matter of cleanliness. we live in the country. madame levy ATGMAIL etc.

  16. We had mice at a house I lived in a few years ago and I tried the stick-balanced-off-the-edge-of-the-counter trick. Put a bit of bait, like peanut butter, on the end, with a tall trash can below.

    It worked great at first. Our four year old thought it was terrific. In the middle of the night there would be a loud crash as mouse and stick fell into the trashcan. We would all excitedly rouse ourselves, slap a lid on the trashcan and run out to the backyard to humanely release the mouse.

    It got old after the eighth time or so. For us and for the (apparently singular) mouse who kept finding its way back in and eventually learned to avoid the bait. Peanut butter would wait forlornly at the end to of the stick for days at a time while we would still hear scampering about the kitchen at night.

    But though determined to be humane, we were even more determined to be rid of the mouse, so a better non-lethal mousetrap was needed. And a better way of disposing of the mouse.

    I built a better mouse trap. I bought a largish plastic storage container from the dollar store and made airholes and openings for weighted doors that were held with magnets when shut.

    At first I simply positioned a webcam on a tripod so I could watch the trap in a window on my pc as I worked in the room next door to the kitchen. I would keep one eye on webcam image and when I saw the mouse go inside I would yank on a string that released the doors. It was a fun game, but the system was too slow (me, the video latency and the string and door configuration). The mouse always escaped. Plus it made it hard to concentrate on work.

    Upgrade time. I rigged a hinged, baited plexiglass ramp inside the container carefully calibrated to trip the doors when the mouse climbed up it. That worked well.

    The biggest advantage of the container, by design, was that it held the mouse in securely. Once caught we didn’t have to rush out into the backyard to get rid of it. We realized that our previous error was releasing it too close to home.

    So when we finally caught one again, late at night, the clatter woke us, but we rolled back to sleep. The next day, we fed it and watched it; it was almost like having a pet. Then, later, under cover of night, we put the mousetrap in the car trunk, drove a couple of neighborhoods away, and to let the mouse go there. We only had to do this a few times before we were finally rid of rodents.

    I felt a bit guilty, knowing I was only handing off the problem, but it spared me the grief of offing them myself. (And explaining that to the kid.) Plus I could always hope that it was the cats in the other neighborhood that took care of them, all natural-like, before they had the chance to find another home.

  17. I do a similar trick for cockroaches. Slime the inner sides of a coffee can with Vaseline and drop in some bait.

  18. No, no, no! You don’t just take ’em out to the garden. Everybody knows that.

    You have to blindfold ’em, or put ’em in the trunk of the Caddy, and drive ’em far away and drop ’em off in a bad neighborhood.

    And that guy in the picture? You gotta watch out for him. He says he’s a mouse, but he ain’t. In fact, if your mice aren’t falling for the traps, he might be your problem. Could be, he’s a mole.

  19. DGallardo: God forbid you explain the killing of a mouse to a child. And you seriously caught mice and drove them down the street to release them? Good lord, grow a pair and exterminate the filthy little pests. a $0.50 trap will kill them instantly.

  20. Even if the glass-and-stick arrangement could humanely confine a mouse, they say that you have to release the mouse THREE MILES from your home to prevent it from coming back.

    Of course, in my urban environment, I’d probably be safe just releasing it on my neighbor’s back porch…

  21. #11/Kyle Armbruster
    Maybe your mom was trying to determine if she had Witch-mice. If the mouse drowned she knew it was a regular old mouse, however if the mouse survived the drowning…

  22. After trying to catch a mouse with no success for a while using some home made traps based on various designs from the web, we ended up getting the “corner cat” at a local hardware store. It caught two the first night, and in the last 4 weeks or so has caught a total of 7 mice (we thought we only had one!). We usually drop them off a few miles away to be sure. They really can’t get out of this thing once they’re in there, and it’s reusable over and over again (plus you don’t have to drink out of it afterwards).

    Well worth the $10 or so…

  23. Good trap for chipmunks and mice is a bucket 1/2 full of water and a ramp to it. Not too humane, but hey, life is full of death and suffering, best not to fool ourselves that we’re “good” people because we use humane traps.

    Also, learn to break bad news to your kids, this is a good practice.

  24. Has anyone heard the ‘This American Life’ episode where they talk to the mouse trap factory guy? He reaches very much the same conclusion as most people in this discussion. Rack your brains all you want trying to invent some clever new ‘humane’ system for catching mice, but the good ol’ 50¢ trap still works better than anything else. episode 311. pretty entertaining:

  25. I used to work at a major natural history museum in the midwest. Snap traps are indeed the most humane way to catch mice and we were bound by many countries as that being the only way we could catch rodents. Plus, then you don’t have to worry about hantavirus as you wash the glasses to reuse them. Hantavirus isn’t just a southwestern thing, a guy in IL got it from sweeping up rat droppings from his garage. Never reuse even snap traps, it’s not worth it for your health and always clean up using a mask.

  26. The 50 cent traps are great for mice. We found out the hard way that they only stun Baltimore rats. We heard a “snap, THUMP” at one in the morning. We ran to the kitchen to see a giant rat slowly coming to on the kitchen floor. We quickly threw a trash can over it, and drove it a mile or so away. It was rather angry at that point, but ran off into the night. We now await the big payback.

  27. JETSETSC, that’s why you buy rat traps!

    That said for anyone who live traps the mice, they have to be released over a mile away (more like a kilometer) otherwise they just come right back home. Plug up the holes in your house, too. That cheap expanding foam insulation works great to get it done until you can create a more permanent solution, since they just chew through it.

  28. Cats are the best mousetrap, because they take pleasure in their work. And they purr, unlike the 50 cent traps.

  29. “If you feel dirty, insignificant and unloved then rats are a good role model. They exist without permission, they have no respect for the hierarchy of society and they have sex fifty times a day. ”

    – Banksy

  30. Steve Gould and Laura Mixon used to keep a tall, straight-sided bag of dry dog food in their kitchen in Staten Island. I was there the day Steve noticed a rustling in the bag, and determined that they’d caught a mouse that couldn’t get out. He decided to open a window and hold the bag horizontal with its open end outside, so the mouse would escape into the yard.

    When Steve picked up the bag, the mouse got scared and started running around the inside in high-speed circles. It was like a mouse particle accelerator. He went to put the bag out through the open window, but as soon as he’d tipped it far enough for the mouse to get purchase on the inside walls, the thing came flying out of the bag as though it had been shot from a cannon. Fortunately, its travel path took it out the window and into the garden below.

    It was actually pretty cool. I recommend trying it if you have mice to spare.

  31. Hickory dickory dock
    Three mice ran up the clock
    The clock struck one
    The rest escaped with minor injuries

    Many of us feel iffy about the question of mouse-killing.

    In rural areas I’ve lived in, many different kinds of animals are referred to as “vermin”. This kind of thinking allows the endless slaughter of some species, sometimes to extinction.

    This dangerous capacity of the human mind allows it to wall-off feelings from certain kinds of action. No doubt it was this capacity that made possible the kind of WW2 smiling-family-group picnic pictures of concentration-camp personnel we saw a while back.

    As a result, I’ve a lot of respect for people who go out of their way to respect the right of all species to live on the Earth — because we are one of those species. At the same time, enough is enough. Killing caught mice can be done humanely with a glass jar and a liquid to displace the air.

  32. My son (40) tells me ‘if I kill it, I have to eat it’. So I let Victor (the mouse trap) snap it.

  33. While the trap is good, I prefer to deter them prior to entering my domain. I found a repellent that actually works. It is called Store It Right and is available at No more mice problems, now they just go after my neighbors!

  34. to all those people who say grow a pair and kill the mouse what you forget is you are actually th pest cos the mouse was there first then you destroyed its home. there are plenty of non lethal traps that work the best ones being the ones with auto trap doors they last longer then the cheapys and you don’t have to feel like a murderus idiot then you release them into the bush under a log or something and they will be fine

  35. i once caught a mouse in my 2nd floor chicago apt. under a large-ish steel bowl…i slid a magazine underneath & turned the bowl right side up, walked out onto the back porch thinking i’d walk downstairs & let him go… near the porch railing i took the magazine off the top of the bowl thinking it would be too slippery for him to crawl up the side & jump out of
    not only did he leap out of the bowl, but his arc took him right over the porch railing! he had jumped into the void from a height that on a human scale wouldve been like jumping out of a skyscraper window! i thought i’d encountered a suicidal mouse, but then i watched him fall, hit the cement, & RUN AWAY!! apparently completely undamaged! i went from thinking he was suicidal to thinking he had super powers
    …i decided that if i ever had the opportunity to try this again, i would, as i now had to know if this was standard rodentious behavior, or if this mouse mightve been the reincarnation of yves klien;
    …well, as it turned out i got a chance to repeat the experiment about a week later…caught another (? maybe, probably?) mouse the same way, & took the bowl out onto the porch; same result
    …as oon as the magazine cover was removed from the bowl little yves II took the same leap of faith to freedom, & scampered away just as undamaged as i stood there jaw agape …it was explained to me later that t(he)y didnt really weigh enuff to be harmed by the fall…but i was still impressed w/ their awesome (no doubt terror-inspired) freedom skydives

  36. I have had a mouse, caught it, released it in a nearby park, and not had it bother me or any of my neighbors again. To those who say there’s no point in not killing it, I think you’re just unwilling to do a little walking to spare the little mammal’s life.

  37. For directions to make the repeating trap go here:

    Otherwise I would say don’t let them go, they will be back. When I shared an apartment with 3 others I was accused of stealing rice, so I set to work removing mice with a live trap, at my roommates insistence. After catching and releasing a dozen mice, I finally wised up and drew a big “X” on one with a Sharpie. Sure enough, he was caught again 2 days later. I switched to snap traps.

    When we moved that next spring, we found in the attic a dresser drawer filled to the brim filled with 20 lbs of rice…

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