My Mousetrap Designs

It is amazing how many different mousetrap designs have been made over the centuries. Some designs are very fundamental while others utilize hi-tech designs to get the job done. This is my attempt at it.

All of my trap designs described below have caught mice.

I thought I should start to make my mouse trap designs using the least amount of materials possible and then expand on the use of low cost items found in the home, office and workshop.

Please check your catch and release traps twice a day or more often!

Any animal trapped in small containers will soon suffer or potentially die from asphyxiation, exhaustion, starvation, dehydration or hypothermia. I always try to incorporate air passage openings in my designs. You should too!

Countertop Balance Bottle Traps

Here are some of my Countertop Balance Bottle Trap designs. The simplest and cheapest is made using a half gallon plastic milk container and a 2-3 foot piece of string. Make a small hole in the center of the container cap and place the string through the hole and tie a large knot at the end of the string. Now squeeze the bottle cap as if to fold it and push it through the container opening. The cap will return to its flat state and cannot be pulled back out of the container opening. The tapered neck of the bottle keeps the cap centered inside the opening. Tie the other end of the string to to a cabinet drawer handle or knob. Make sure the string length is short enough to suspend the container above the floor.

Place a small amount of bait (nuts, cereal, pasta, pretzels, cookies or peanut butter) toward the bottom end of the container and then balance the container at the edge of the counter or shelf. When the mouse enters the container to get the bait it upsets the container balance and then falls towards the floor in the container. The cap and string abruptly stop the container from falling to the floor while simultaneously closing off the container opening. When using cylindrical water bottles place one side next to an object to keep it from rolling side to side, or, stabilize it using a pop sickle stick, wooden skewer, or chopstick and rubber band(s) as shown.

Bowl Traps

Here are some of my bowl traps from the simplest to more advanced. My design objectives with bowl traps are getting the bait placed away from the trap entry points and having a stable trip method.

Note: Place bowl traps over a heavy weight disposable paper plate or other sturdy, portable flat surface to allow you transport the contained mouse.

Bowl and business card trap

Fold a business card lengthwise and then fold both the end corners at 45 degrees inwards. The folds of one corner must be squeezed flat on the inside and the other end overlapping to close off the end. Tape the card around the center to maintain a triangular, tubular shape. Put peanut butter under the tightly folded corner ends. Balance the bowl edge over the opposite, closed corner end. The mouse will move the baited end upsetting the bowl’s balance and the bowl will fall over the mouse trapping it underneath.

Bowl, rubber band and wine cork trap

Tie two rubber bands together by looping one into the other. Hold a rubber band end in each hand and position the hard bait like you doing a button loop to interlock the rubber bands and bait together. Now, while holding the interlocked bait in place maneuver the rubber bands over the bowl positioning the baited end toward the bowl’s inner edge. Center and spread the rubber bands a little where they come over the bowl edges. Position the bowl over the wine cork so the longer length of the rubber band rests on the top of the wine cork. This holds one end of the bowl up creating a gap for the mouse to enter. The mouse eats the bait in turn breaking the interlocked link of the two rubber bands and the bowl falls over the mouse trapping it underneath.


Bowl, skewer, toothpick and Cheerios trap

This design, although very simple, requires a bit of dexterity to set. Hold two toothpicks parallel together and then place both through the hole of a Cheerio (Honey Nut Cheerios make great bait). Center the Cheerio and spread the toothpicks into a crossed position that in turn holds the Cheerio in place. Place and hold an end of the skewer on top of the toothpick cross. With your free hand place the inverted bowl edge over the middle of the skewer. The mouse crawls under the gap, eats the Cheerio and the toothpicks separate causing the supporting skewer and bowl to fall over the mouse trapping it underneath.

Bowl, binder clips and rubber band trap

This is my best fail safe bowl trap design! It uses two 1/2″ binder clips as tie points for the rubber band and interlocking bait. This method will also work using wide mouth jars, cooking pots and pans. The bowl’s support/ fall mechanism is one arm of a binder clip. The binder clip arm used as the support/fall mechanism must be loose (floppy). Adjust as needed by squeezing the arm until it can not support the weight of the bowl without the taut rubber band.

The bait is held in place (button loop method) by the rubber band and arm of the opposite binder clip as shown. In this example a piece of walnut is being used as the bait.

Bowl and wire ‘swing’ trap

This design to prop up the bowl from underneath uses 12 gauge copper electrical wire for the frame and 14 gauge wire for the bait hooks. When the mouse eats the bait the hooks release and the wire prop flattens under the weight of the bowl trapping the mouse. A peanut and also a Honey Nut Cheerio is being used as bait.

Bowl, wood and string ‘billboard’ trap

Another under bowl prop design made using 1/4″ plywood and string. Expect the trapped mouse to chew the wood so make a few of them or make them out of metal.

Bowl, wire and rubber band ‘Z’ trap

This simple ‘Z’ shaped bowl prop design uses coat hanger wire and a single rubber band. It is set with piece of walnut as bait.

Note how the wire under the bowl edge provides an air gap.

Trap Door Bottle Traps

These trap door designs are a little more involved yet require little woodworking skills to make. I used scrap cabinet grade 1/2″ and 1/4″ plywood, some small rubber bands and a 1 inch Forstner bit to drill the holes. I also added screened openings for air exchange but a 1/4″ hole could be used instead. The dimensions are 2-1/2″ X 3″ with the 1 inch hole centered. The slots for the rubber bands are 1 inch from the top edge. The other version shown (using 1/4″ plywood) uses a longer piece of wood as a counter balance for lighter water bottle use. The bottles are hand tight screwed into the holes.

Use one or two rubber bands to get the right amount of closing power while allowing the trap to support the bottle in the standing armed position. The 1/2″ plywood trap has two fixed setup angle positions that change the trap’s arming sensitivity. The 1/4″ plywood versions arming sensitivity is adjustable by moving the smaller piece of plywood up and down on the longer piece. Place peanut butter within the highest point of the bottle. The mouse enters the trap door hole and climbs in the bottle to reach the bait. The weight of the mouse causes the bottle to tip over allowing the trap door to forcefully close and remain closed.

Balance Beam Bottle Trap

This is my adjustable bottle trap design that lets me use water, soft drink bottles or cans of different lengths and widths. The mouse enters the opening to retrieve the bait at the end of the bottle. When the mouse walks in the bottle the weight of the bottle and mouse shift on the supporting balance beam and the bottle drops to the lower rails blocking off the bottle’s entrance hole. I made this with 1/2″ plywood and 3/16″ dowels. The metal clips hold the sliding plywood side piece parallel to the opposite fixed plywood piece. This trap can also be made from metal or plastic. You should be able to gauge the hole pattern from the last image shown.

Cat Food Can Traps

Here are a couple of designs using aluminum cat food cans. The first design uses two small taut rubber bands linked together with the bait to suspend the weighted can above the bottom can. When the rubber bands are stretched between two posts there is enough tension and resulting friction of the rubber bands to suspend the weighted top can in place. The mouse enters between the cans, stands upright to eat the bait causing the rubber bands to separate and the upper can to drop, trapping the mouse inside. The bottom can is easily replaceable to dispose of any mouse droppings. I used aluminum rods for the posts but wooden dowels work just as well. A heavy steel washer is epoxied to the upper can. The second design uses the balance beam method much like the balance beam bottle trap above but uses fewer parts.

Sling Shot Mouse Trap

This unique design uses a bowl, single rubber band and a metal coat hanger to make. Any solid bait that can hold the rubber band against the small end of the sling shot will work. A piece of a cookie and peanut is used in the below examples. The coat hanger wire length is about 14 inches. 12 gauge copper electrical wire also works well.

Here is a whimsical version made using scrap 12 gauge copper electrical wire. Does it resemble a mouse?

Suspended Jar/Mug Trap

Make a holder to suspend a jar or your least favorite mug as shown. I used wire hooks to hold the bait in this design. Note how the single hook is positioned between the double hook to hold the bait in place.

Bowl and ‘Wood Mouse’ Trap

Of course, the best way to catch a mouse is with another mouse! This design is made using 3/4″ plywood, 1/4″ eye screws and 14 gauge copper electrical wire. After cutting the body shape cut a shallow, narrow slot along the top of the triangle. Add the eye screws and shape the wire. Place a sliver of bait using nuts, cookies or pretzel piece through the eye screws and wire loop end, then place the bowl edge on the wire tail close to the back of the mouse. When the mouse eats the bait it releases the looped wire end allowing the tail to drop and the bowl to fall over the mouse.

Bowl and Wire ‘Praying Mantis’ Mouse Trap

Only a coat hanger wire and bowl is used to make this trap design. Make the length of the open hook wire piece to fit the diameter of the bowl. After inserting the interlocking bait, apply pressure to the tail end of the open hook piece against the outside of the bowl to keep it taut before you turn the bowl upside down.

Bait in place. A Cheerio is used here.
The trap is set.
This is how the two formed wire pieces hold the bait in place which in turn keeps one end of the bowl elevated.
The dimensions are not critical. The objective is to make it snug fitting from bowl edge to opposite edge with the bait in place.