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Snap trap with killed wood mouse
Triggering a mousetrap

The mousetrap is a device for catching mice .

Types of traps

Traps alive

Tubular trap with tilt mechanism. The yellow cap is removable and can be equipped with bait (e.g. peanut butter) from the inside.

Many forms of live traps consist of a cage and a spring mechanism that suddenly closes the entrance opening when the bait attachment is touched. The trigger can be mechanical or electronic, but there are also traps that only allow the mouse to pass the entrance in one direction. Live traps are offered in pet shops or by special mail.

Live traps are also efficient, in which the mouse enters a plastic tube and moves the center of gravity of the trap away from the entrance with its body weight. This triggers the trap, the entrance / exit is closed by a flap that was previously open as a "lid". Due to the tubular shape, this type of trap seems to be particularly attractive for mice.

Basket trap with an access hole. Human access is through an opening in the floor
Cage Snap Trap with Caught Mouse (Bait: Chocolate)
Wood mouse is caught with a cage snap trap

Mice can also be caught in trap traps (also called mass traps ), where the funnel-shaped entrance made of wires is easy to pass, but the way back from the inside is more difficult due to the pointed wire ends. Here the mouse is not held back by force, but by its own impression that the way out is too narrow. The fish trap is usually in the form of a small basket that lies upside down on the opening and has one or two holes provided with small wires. Passing through such a hole appears easy to the mouse because the wires are bent inwards and thus form a familiar shape. It would also be entirely possible for the mouse to get out again, but given the shape that has now changed, it prefers the gnawing activity on the mesh of the basket. If a mouse falls into such a trap, it has an opportunity to learn through trial and error and, if successfully escaped, can later return and escape again with a bait. If a mouse has obviously successfully left the trap, bending the wire rods may help. It would be better to have elastic wires that give way when crawling in, but otherwise represent an opening that is too narrow.

In addition to industrially manufactured live traps, the traditional walnut mousetrap is often used. The floor consists of a sturdy plate. A mason jar is placed with the edge on half a walnut. This is also on the edge of the shell, with the core towards the inside of the glass. Therefore the mouse has to go into the glass to reach it. If she then tampered with it, tip the nut and jar, and the animal is trapped. The rodent can now be transported using the mat. If the trap z. B. If left unattended overnight, a small object under part of the glass edge (like a piece of thick cardboard) provides fresh air.

Killing traps

Snap traps

Classic wooden mousetrap
Snap trap made of plastic

The classic mousetrap is a small, mechanical device. Usually it is made of wood. Usually a construction is used with which the mouse is to be induced to enter the animal trap via a lure . Often nuts, raisins, chocolate or flour are used as bait, traditionally or literally also bacon or cheese. The bait is attached to a small metal pin. Upon contact with the attached bait, a small wooden board is pressed down by the weight of the mouse. This triggers a previously tensioned strong spring. This strikes a metal bracket near the bait to break the backbone of a mouse located there. In most cases, this will result in instant death if the mouse is hit completely. In some cases, however, only the blood and oxygen supply is cut off, so that the mouse slowly suffocates.

Snap traps can be at least painful for humans, wild animals or domestic animals, which is why their use should be carefully considered. This is especially true when babies or young children are there and could injure their hands.

Correspondingly larger models of snap traps exist for voles and rats .


Historic automatic water trap
Multiple mouse traps in one mill

Chemical mousetraps consist of a very sticky, chewing gum or glue-like paste that can be applied to the floor from a tube and exudes a scent that is tempting for mice . The mice come into contact with this paste, are held in place by the enormous adhesive force and become increasingly entangled in it through attempts to free themselves. Death can result from exhaustion or hypothermia , as their sticky fur loses its thermal insulation properties. According to the manufacturer, these traps must be checked at least every hour and animals in them must be killed immediately. However, since the death or the resulting injuries are excruciatingly caused for the animal, the distribution and use in Germany fundamentally violate the Animal Welfare Act.

In addition to the widespread, often industrially manufactured trap types, there are also different regionally widespread or individually designed methods of catching mice.

Cultural meaning

The mousetrap and curiosity museum Güntersberge in the Harz was opened in 1997.

Mousetraps play a role in cartoons like Tom and Jerry , whereby besides the usual constructions there are also special constructions. The crime - radio play by Agatha Christie " The Mousetrap " is continuously every day as a play since its first performance of the 1,952th "Mausefalle" in an ambiguous allusion is a name for pubs and other entertainment venues.

In the game of skill with falling dominoes , mousetraps are sometimes used as a kinetic element.

The coat of arms of the municipality of Neroth shows, among other things, a mousetrap.

Mousetrap cars are built in schools to encourage creative and constructive thinking.

See also


  • Wolfhard Klein: Mouse death! The cultural history of the mousetrap , Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt / Mainz 2011 ISBN 978-3-8053-4319-0

Individual evidence

  1. German Animal Welfare Act, Section 4, killing animals

Web links

Wiktionary: Mausefalle  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Mousetraps  - album with pictures, videos and audio files