Mouse Hunt: The Rodent Escapologist

It has been six months now since we moved into our new house. When I say ‘new’, I mean, of course, new to us; it was actually built in 1926. The house is a lovely arts and crafts style dwelling in beautiful Somerset (England) and I love it. But houses of that age often come with their problems and we have discovered recently discovered one.

It was the little nibbles taken out of the potatoes that alerted us and, when we took a closer look, it was obvious that we were sharing the house with one or two unwanted guests. Since then, I have been trying to catch a little fellow who has turned out to be one smart cookie.

I don’t know if you have ever needed to catch a mouse, but it seems a fairly straight-forward task, in principle. There are lots of options for you to consider including the traditional spring trap, the glue trap, poison and a whole variety of humane traps designed to catch the mouse alive.

Personally, I didn’t like the idea of poison or the glue trap, both of which lead to a nasty death for the little animal. That left two options. We went to the local store to find they only had one option – the spring trap. Since mice, as lovable as they are, carry disease, I wanted to tackle the problem as quickly as possible so I bought the spring trap.

The first night, I set it using the traditional piece of cheese as bait and the next morning, there was a dead rodent – very simple. But a number of more experienced people in our neighbourhood told us that there would be another one to catch, so the next night, I did exactly the same thing. The result was that the other mouse somehow managed to take the cheese without springing the trap.

Of course, I thought he just had been lucky. So the next night, I set it again using cheese as bait. This time I cut a very small cube; the reasoning being that it would have to get closer to the trigger mechanism to get it. Result? Mouse took the cheese without springing the trap. We tried for another two nights using different bait – peanut butter and jam. Again we were outwitted by the little chap.

So, I went back to the hardware store and discovered they had a second type of spring trap. It was similar to the first, but had a different trigger mechanism. Two more nights passed and on both occasions he took the bait without springing the new trap. If I could bring myself to sit up all night, I would just love to see how he actually manages to do this.

Anyway, I got into the car and drove over to the next town to find another hardware store and look for a different type of trap. In the next store, I discovered they had three options including the spring trap, poison and a humane trap. As I said, poison was out, the spring trap looked no different to one I had been using, so that left the humane trap. Actually, I really would like to catch this little fellow alive. It seems that, after what he has managed to so far achieve, he somehow deserves it.

As we have always lived in modern houses and they don’t tend to suffer from the problem, I had never had to consider buying a mouse trap before. So I had never before seen a humane trap. It is ingenious. I have always loved to see good design, in anything and everything, and this design is simple and elegant.

Essentially, the trap is a little box with a door at the entrance. The bait is on a little plate that slides into the box and sits right at the far end so the mouse has to get into the box to take the bait. The trigger is very clever. As the mouse moves past the half-way point inside the box, the weight of the mouse tips the box forward slightly and that action releases the door – brilliant design in my opinion. I bought two.

The next night I set both traps. They were pre-baited with something that apparently smells good, to a mouse so I decided to go with that. The next morning, one of the traps was sprung. I lifted it carefully and tipped it vertically so that the mouse would not escape as I lifted the door to take a look at this clever fellow. But he was not there.

The other trap had not been sprung so I thought that the mouse must have been a little cautious about these new things in the environment and had perhaps knocked the first trap and sprung the door from the outside. The pre-installed bait did not really give me much of a clue because it was a very thin smear and hence it was difficult to see if anything had been removed.

That brings me to last night. This time, I baited both of the humane traps with a rather smelly (even to humans) blue cheese and this morning, one of the traps had been sprung. Again I tipped the trap to the vertical position and carefully opened the door. Result? Again, no mouse. I removed the little plate that had been baited with the cheese to discover he had cleaned it out.

So, I don’t know how on Earth this little chap is managing to do all this. There is no way he could get to the bait without crossing the mid-point of the trap, so I cannot understand how he could have taken the cheese, tripped the door and still escaped. But somehow, he did! My next move is to try a bucket trap – I’ll let you know how it goes.

3 thoughts on “Mouse Hunt: The Rodent Escapologist

  1. Julia

    Hello Will,
    I had a good chuckle after I read your post. When you think about what time, trouble and expense we go to rid ourselves of these little perishers it makes you smile doesn’t it? Perhaps you ought to invest in a cat? lol… Reading a comment from Janet about flies, I remember my father, bless him, used to roll up his newspaper and go after the bluebottles, he always got quite annoyed that they had disturbed his reading time, but once the job was done he would pop it in the bin then go back to reading his paper, lol…


  2. Janet

    Hi Will – your story rings lots of bells. We have a house in France and last year when we visited in the very cold winter, we discovered that a whole family of mice had taken residence somewhere behind the kitchen cupboards and under the stairs (mouse droppings were the clue!!!!). Anyway we had exactly the same problem as you have had and eventually decided that the mice must be so small that they weren’t heavy enough to set the trap off. Like you we tried peanut butter, differing amounts and types of cheese, we even stuck cheese to the peanut butter, but in the end is was simply a matter of perseverance. We eventually caught 8 tiny little mice – but had no idea if there were any more.

    They remind me of flies when I am trying to swat them, they seem to have a sixth sense and an amazing survival instinct.

    Good luck and may the best man win!!!!!

  3. smitha

    It is pretty interesting that you mentioned the mouse. I have been dealing with one of those brainy creatures myself. Today I saw him flashing in full view. It has been 3 months since the guy has been pestering me but to no avail. I am running out of options and yet am called to quote Churchill: Never, never, never give up, even when your adversary is the smart Mr Mouse!

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