6 Easy Homemade (DIY) Mouse Traps

Do you have mice or rats in your home, ones that have invaded from the outside, not pets that you have raised? If you do, you will probably want to do something about it. Nobody likes a destroyed home covered in rat droppings. It’s nasty, smelly, unsightly, and highly dangerous too. There is no debating the fact that mouse and rat infestations need to be taken care of as soon as possible.

Yes, there are many different options to go with, some that are humane and some that are not. We are not really here to debate the ethics of mouse or rat traps that kill the animals, but with that being said, we are big fans of humane capturing methods that don’t actually harm the animals, so that is what we are here to talk about today. Let’s talk about why you don’t want rats in your home and what some of the best homemade rat trap options are.

Dangers of Mice and Rats in Your Home

mouse trap

One of the first things that we want to talk about here is why you actually want to catch and get rid of mice and rats in your home. For one thing, they like to break stuff. Of course, it is not like they are malicious and purposely causing you damage, but they love to chew through things nonetheless. These creatures, especially rats, can chew through wood, plastics, rubber, and even some metals.

They have been known to chew through wires and cause house fires; they chew apart insulation to make nests, thus decreasing energy efficiency, and a whole lot more. Nobody likes to open a cupboard only to realize that a rat has already chewed its way in and helped itself to your morning cereal.

There is also the fact that mice and rats harbor many different diseases that can be deadly to humans. For one, probably the worst of all, rats were suspected of carrying the bacteria responsible for the bubonic plague, also known as the black death, which killed close to two-thirds of the European population during the 14th century AD. Rats and mice can also harbor other potential bacteria and parasites causing rat bite fever, salmonellosis, hantavirus, and listeria. The main point here is that having rats in your home is not a good idea no matter which way you look at it.

Mice, whether dead or alive, can harbor diseases and parasites. If you choose to use a DIY method of mouse removal, you’ll want to make sure that you dispose of the mouse safely.

You’ll not want to come in direct contact with the mouse’s skin, so you’ll want to wear a pair of gloves when handling the mouse.

Since the mouse is likely still alive if you’re not using poison, you’re also at risk of the mouse biting you. One way to avoid this is to trick the mouse into a container that you can quickly close and open to release the mouse. You may also be able to wear heavy duty gloves that the mice will not be able to gnaw through.

Dangers of Using Poison for Rat and Mouse Control

mouse in home

Beside the fact that it is inhumane to use poison to kill mice and rats –it’s a long and painful death – so just don’t do it. Poison is bad for several other reasons too. First and foremost, mice and rats know, whether consciously or not, that they are dying and will instinctively go to a tight space to hide. This means that they will often go find a wall or floor to hide in. They will die there, decompose, and it smells terrible. Also, decomposing animals will harbor and grow any number of parasites and bacteria that can be harmful and even fatal to humans. At the same time, a rat or mouse that has died of poisoning also poses a threat to the greater ecosystem around it.

The rat decomposes, but the poison does not. Therefore, dogs, cats, and other animals who end up eating or even just chewing on the poisoned rats and mice can end up getting sick, often fatally so. The poison can also leach into the ground and groundwater. As you can see, using poison to kill rats and mice that have invaded your home is not a smart option for various reasons.

DIY Rat Traps

So, we have now covered why having mice and rats in your home is bad, why you should not use poison to kill them, and why killing them in general is probably not the best way to go. Here we want to talk about the best rat traps for your home, ones that will not kill the mice or rats, thus allowing you to release them back into the wild if you so choose. Let’s take a look at some of the best homemade rat traps right now.

1  Glass and coin method

Glass and coin mouse trap

This is a very simple and cheap way to catch mice and smaller rats without harming them. Keep in mind that rats can get pretty big, so you might have to substitute the glass for something bigger like a glass jar or container. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that the glass container, whether a drinking glass or oven dish, needs to be heavy enough so that the mouse or rat cannot get out from under it.

Take the glass container of your choosing, preferably one that has a bit of depth to it. Smear some rat favorite food like peanut butter or cheese spread along the bottom of the dish; this is the bait to lure the mouse or rat into the trap.

Place the glass or glass dish upside down and use a coin to prop it up at one end. Getting the glass or dish to balance on the coin that is on its side can be a little hard, but this also makes it an effective trap. The rat or mouse will go in for the food and when it goes to eat the food, it will shift the glass ever so slightly, thus causing the coin to fall, the glass to come down, therefore trapping the rat.

2  Shoebox method

Shoebox mouse trap

The next DIY rat trap that you can at home with minimal materials and effort is a shoebox trap. We say to use a shoebox because they tend to be fairly thick and laminated. A rat will take a while to chew through it, while a thinner box might not contain it for long. This is a very simply and humane trap. Simply cut a small square, no more than a few inches wide, in the top of the box, preferably the lid of the shoebox. Then get a piece of paper and cut it in half. These two half pieces of paper are going to form a trap door over the hole that you just cut out of the box. Tape the paper on and try to make it look natural so that the rat doesn’t notice that something is up.

Rats are very smart and sometimes catch on to traps and will stay away from them, especially if they have previous experience with the same trap. Place some light crumbs on the trap, the center of the trap door. The rat will run to the crumbs and fall into the box, being unable to escape until you choose to dispose of it. Keep in mind that rats are good at chewing things and a cardboard shoebox is not exactly made of the most solid of materials, so check this trap often or else the rat might get out given enough time to chew through it.

3  Countertop bucket trap

Countertop bucket mouse trap

This is yet another very simple, cheap, and effective rat trap to go with. This one is a little difficult to set up properly, but it gets the job done. This is a great option to go with if you have mice or rats that like to go on your kitchen counters and look for leftover food. All you need is a bucket, a coin, some bait, and a cardboard paper towel or toilet paper tube.

You need to take the paper towel roll and crease it so that it is flat on one side. This is where you will place it on the counter. Take the roll and balance it on the edge of the counter so a good portion of one end is leaning off of the counter. It will take some time and practice to find the right spot for perfect balance, but many people place a coin or tie something to the top of the tube that is heavy enough to keep it from falling off the edge.

At any rate, once you have found the right position, load up one end of the tube with bait, the end that is leaning over the counter. Under the opening of the tube there needs to be a deep bucket. When the mouse or rat crawls through the tube to get the food, the tube will tip over and send the rat down into the bucket, thus captured and waiting your disposal.

4  Bottle neck trap

Bottle neck mouse trap

This is probably one of the easiest and most straightforward DIY rat traps that you can make with minimal materials. All you need is a plastic bottle, some duct tape, some food, and maybe something slippery like unscented Vaseline. Cut the bottle about two-thirds of the way up from the bottom of the bottle; cut it clean so that the two pieces are separate. Now, take the top of the bottle with the opening, flip it around, and place it inside of the bottom half.

As you can see, this resembles a lobster trap. The mouse will be able to get into the trap, but it won’t be able to climb back out. Make sure to fasten the bottle together tight using duct tape so the mouse cannot get out. By the way, the opening of a bottle might be too small for a large rat, but it will definitely do for a mouse.

Some people smear Vaseline that has no scent into the top of the bottle. This will ensure that the mouse or rat cannot climb out. Place the bait of your choosing in the bottom of the trap. You need to place the trap so that the top of it is level, or nearly level, with a shelf or counter that you know is frequented by the invaders. If you just put this trap on the floor, a mouse or rat will not be able to climb up it and actually get into it.

5  Swinging lid trap

Swinging lid mouse trap

This trap takes a little time to build, but it is a good repeater trap that can catch a large number of mice and/or rats. You are going to need a bucket, something to cut a hole out of the bucket, a ramp of sorts, bait, a paper plate, and some decently strong string. Take the bucket and cut 2 small holes in it near the top by the rim. The holes need to be across from each other. Tie a string from one hole to the other.

At the center of the string you just tied to the bucket, take another piece of string and tie it to the middle and let it hang down about 1/3 or ½ way into the bucket. Tie the string to a paper plate by cutting a hole in the middle of the plate. This is the swing platform that you will put bait on. Once the rat or mouse steps onto the plate, it will tilt and send the rat to the bottom of the bucket. You need to make sure that the plate is up high enough so the rat cannot reach it once it is in the bucket.

So the rat or mouse can get into the bucket, you will have to cut a hole into it that is level or slightly above level with the hanging paper plate. You will also need to use a stick or something else to create a ramp so the rat or mouse can get from the floor to the top of the bucket where the opening is. This is a fairly large trap, so make sure to use strong smelling bait to lure in as many rats and mice as possible.

6. Spinning Can Trick

The spinning can trick is very similar to the countertop bucket trap that we mentioned earlier. You can use this trap to make a homemade rap trap, and it’s a lot more effective than many of the other humane traps that we’ve mentioned.

What you’ll be doing is using an empty can, often a soup can and a bucket.

You’ll want to pierce a hole through the can and feed a string through the hole. You’ll need to find a way to attach the string to the bucket, and this can be done in a few ways:

  • Apply a strong glue to the string
  • Pierce the bucket and tie the string around it

You need to string to remain in place because your can is going to act as bait. Apply a generous amount of peanut butter or even put some cheese insides of the can – or both.

The goal is for the mouse to walk across the string on to the top of the can.

When on top of the can, the mouse will lose their footing as the can spins knocking them into the bucket. You’ll want a large bucket that gives little opportunity for the mouse to jump because they will try to claw their way up the side of the bucket.

I also recommend making it easy to get to the can by making a makeshift ramp for the mice.

You don’t need to do anything too complicated. A cardboard box is often enough to make a platform that the mice can traverse to the top of the bucket.

Since this is a humane method of mouse trapping, you’ll need to remove the mouse from the bucket. I recommend placing the mouse far away from your home, or they will just make their way back inside.

I have seen others choose to put mouse poison or traps inside of the bucket.

While not the most humane method of capturing a mouse, you can kill them quickly by placing the trap or poison inside of the bucket. The mouse will not be able to escape, so they have little option left.

If you have issues with the bucket flipping over, you can always put a weight at the bottom of the bucket to keep it in place. The weight will stop the bucket from toppling over and will work great if you’re dealing with a rat instead of a mouse.


When it comes to homemade mouse and rat traps, those described above are the best, easiest, cheapest, and most humane options to go with. If you have a rat or mouse problem we would recommend giving any one of them a try.

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