As mentioned last month, John caught a little mouse in the sink by putting a glass over him. Later we released him outside. When you can actually catch a mouse with a glass, that is probably a sign that you are over-run with them.
At the following house meeting we decided to get some live traps. I was down at the Green Living Show a couple of weeks later and Green Leaf pest control was there selling the Ketch-All trap for $20. We gave it a shot, and its a magnet for mice! Caught 8 altogether over a period of about three days with no bait.
I thought it was some new technology, but I googled it, and the trap has been around since 1924. What makes it so effective is that it takes advantage of a mouse’s natural curiosity to explore. The trap has a tunnel through it. When a mouse enters, a spring-loaded baffle side swipes them into a spacious side chamber. Then we release them outside. I found a good spot by some railway tracks.
As more mice get caught and released, they leave behind their scent inviting more mice to explore (or perhaps they are looking for their friends). It is suggested that you place the trap against the wall. The trap’s tunnel then seems like a shortcut to mice running along the wall. While no bait is necessary, I placed a piece of apple inside so that the mouse wouldn’t get too thirsty once caught. It was pretty obvious, though, when a mouse was inside as they chew on the metal, making a loud sound.
I think we caught them all. The trap has been silent for over a week and there is no sign of mice.
For more information, see Veg.ca’s excellent article called Dealing with mice and rats: A humane approach to pest control. The ultimate solution is to seal up all your cracks. Our kitchen is full of holes which will eventually be filled when we get to the pending renovation. Until then, we will have to rely on humane mouse trapping.
Update: Since this post, two mice have been seriously injured in this trap and two others died. We contacted the manufacturer and this is a known problem with the Ketch-All trap. He recommended a more humane (and apparently equally effective) trap called the Pro-Ketch. Also, I was able to modify our trap and appear to have fixed the problems. Keep reading for more on this.
Two mice die
In Aug 2008, after one little mouse got injured in the trap and two others died, we stopped using this trap. The injured one tried to force his way out of a gap in the metal and badly cut his face. I attempted to fix that problem by hammering the metal side to narrow the gap. One of the mice that died was due to the trap being moved too quickly. The trap can trip if giggled, causing a mouse trapped inside to jump at the same time as the trap rotates. Fortunately, he was instantly killed because the device slammed his neck. But the other mouse that died got crushed mid-body in the rotating mechanism. We found him later, so no idea how this happened. The clean up was not fun.
After this happened I spoke to the manufacture and was told to make sure the trap is wound 8 to 10 half turns. Not too few and note too many. But he said that he couldn’t guarantee that mice won’t die. It does happen occasionally.
We gave the trap another try as there were getting to be quite a few mice in our kitchen. Right away we had a problem. The first mouse to be caught tried to squeeze his way through the slight gap between the baffle and the side wall. See photo.
I modify the trap
So we stopped using the trap again. The distributor in Toronto, who I also contacted, had mentioned that “the speed as to which the mouse is traveling through the device” is variable and can lead to a failure.
I came up with a solution to both of these problems (the gap, and mice moving too quickly) by adding a small piece of metal to each side of the trap. See photos below. I put the trap back into commission and over the next several days caught six mice with no casualties.
If you are going to use this trap, make sure to check it frequently, and when removing a mouse, move the trap gingerly outside without knocking it. We put the caught mice in a tall white bucket before releasing them. Also be sure to modify it by adding two pieces of sheet metal to each side, attached with 1/2 inch sheet metal screws. Very easy to do. I have also contacted the manufacturer about this, so hopefully the design can be modified eventually.
A better trap?
In our first conversion, the manufacturer suggested a more humane (and apparently equally effective) trap called the Pro-Ketch. It has no spring-loaded parts that need winding. Instead mice squeeze through a one-way door.