THE CAT PROOF RODENT TRAP: PART I
The Mouse In The Country House
If you are wondering what the chances are of getting a mouse or rat inside your country house, I gotta tell ya, they are excellent indeed. Your open property surrounded by wooded areas, brush, grass, or heavy ground cover is perfect for their habitat, but the sheltering effect provided by your abode when the mommas have babies is irresistible. So there you have it in a nutshell.
Your house can be sealed up tight and it won’t make a difference. They can slither through the tiniest opening or sneak in through an open door when you aren’t looking. They can even come in through the sewer and into your bathroom via the commode. Yuck!
Some possibilities for nesting places can be under a nightstand or behind the toe kick platform of a vanity. A bedroom closet with stuff on the floor makes a good hiding spot. How about a kitchen pantry with boxes or bottles on the lowest shelf? Maybe a spot behind the clothes washer or dryer where it is warm and easily accessible, at least to the critters themselves.
I was working one day in the utility room that housed the breaker panel and hot water heater in my house before I moved in. The wall in front of me was open with no drywall on the studs and I was sitting on a bucket when a rat casually walked over my left foot. It went through the wall and into the adjoining bedroom room. I think it had a nest under the vanity in the bathroom behind me. I guess it thought the house was a nice quiet place to live in before I came along, but with the racket I was making, I think maybe the disturbance was too much for it. I tried chasing after it, but it disappeared somewhere and I never saw it again.
Now we have mice. My first encounter with them was when I spotted one running along the floor in the master bedroom. It wound up hiding behind my wife’s computer case next to the dresser. When I peaked and saw its tail, I went and grabbed my level to smoosh it. Upon returning to its hiding place, I saw it no more. What I should have done was kick the case against the wall and squashed it.
Inquisitive Cats and Standard Rodent Traps
We have three cats. We started out with 7 when we first moved in, but 4 have disappeared for one reason or another. The ones left are Tabby’s and they are relentless at chasing and catching any small critter or insect that moves within their line of sight. So far, they have caught 2 mice and chased half a dozen more. Whether they killed them outright or the critters just expired after being frightened to death is open to debate.
Because of their presence, I cannot put out a spring loaded rat or mouse trap for fear that our pets might get seriously injured. If I use an enclosed trap that contains poison, that will present a problem as well if they catch and eat the rodent before it dies. You do the math on that one.
So, how do you trap the beasties and still protect your animals at the same time. Being relatively new to the country lifestyle, I went out looking for answers at nearby supply outlets. Since I live near a Lowe’s and a Tractor Supply Company, that is where I went searching first. Unfortunately, I found nothing that would meet my needs. Standard traps and enclosed units filled with poison bait were the offerings and I had already deemed those items as unacceptable.
The Cat Proof Rodent Trap
I finally came to the conclusion I would have to invent and make something myself. Even though I am a contractor and skilled carpenter, I did not want to take much time with this endeavor. I did have an idea of what I wanted though. If I could find something readymade for a starting point, I could then add a few modifications to create a finished and hopefully workable product.
While at Tractor Supply Company, I noticed a box designed to be a nesting place for rabbits. It was enclosed on four sides with a short roof on top. I guess the animals were supposed to hop into the box over the top of the shortened front to get in. The following picture which I drew on my computer shows what it looks like beforehand. It was the perfect shape and size for my project.
It cost about $16.00 and is made out of 3/8″ exterior grade plywood. I had a left over piece of 1/2″ plywood that I used for the flip-up hinged lid. I had a left-over piece of a piano hinge and joined it to the ready-made box with short little screws. For convenience, I cut the lid so it extended past the edge of the box so I could lift it with my fingers.
Next, I drilled a 2-1/4″ hole in the lower front of the box with the bottom part of the hole even with the top of the box’s plywood bottom. This size hole was big enough for both mice and most rats, but way too small for any type of feline other than a newborn kitten.
I then made a removable plywood insert to fit snuggly inside the box so that it could rest on the bottom and not move around. The front edge of that insert is sloped down 45 degrees to allow the hole opening to remain clear. As per the drawing below, I cut out a slot for both a standard sized spring loaded rat trap and another one for a mouse so that both units would stay in place while the critter went after the bait attached to the clip that triggered the guillotine. This will allow for either trap to be safely set and loaded before installing insert back into the box. A finger hole at the bottom of the box will allow insert to be gently lowered so that the springing mechanism doesn’t get accidentally discharged.
When I finished with the construction phase, I set the mouse trap and placed it in the laundry room with the hole facing the open space in the back of the dryer. One mouse was accosted by the cats there, so that was the reason I chose that location.
As for catching a mouse with the contraption, I haven’t snagged one yet, but I am expecting a successful outcome very soon. That expectation was brought home to me the last time I flipped up the lid for a check and noticed some loose mouse droppings in the otherwise clean box. I guessed that the pest was probably looking for a place to build a nest. If my theory was correct, the idea of catching a pregnant female intrigued me because I figured I could wipe out a whole family of the pests in one fell swoop.
For an encore, I will be giving future updates as I test and evaluate this invention. Any thoughts readers of this blog have regarding this subject, please comment below. Hasta la vista!
UPDATE: Yeah! Caught my first mouse. See THE CAT PROOF RODENT TRAP: Part II!
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