Practical Craft: Cruelty-Free, No-Mess, No-Touching Mouse Trap

Note: for today’s dramatic performance, the role of Common Field Mouse with be played by Rubber Cat Toy

If you live in an old house like I do, you probably live in fear of this time of year: mouse time. The weather gets cold and the critters start looking for warm places to set up their winter nest. Like, your house.

Look, I know some people think that a house with a mouse is the hallmark of bad housekeeping, but that is simply not the case. Everyone deals with mice at some point in their lifetime. I know I have. And I don’t care how clean you keep your house, when mice want in— they get in.

Now, let’s just be clear: the best protection against mice is a good cat. Period. But, sadly, not everybody can keep a cat. Sometimes an alternative measure is required. My friend Matt had an issue with mice last fall and nearly borrowed Lola for the weekend to take care of the problem. However, as a peaceful person, Matt feared that Lola + Mice = “Game of Thrones style carnage” which, frankly, would be an understatement.

Wanting to avoid blood on the ceiling and whatnot, Matt googled around and found some great solutions for finding ways to get rid of those mice without hurting them, or touching them (‘cuz let’s be honest — that’s the gross part — touching them). When he told me about this method I wish someone had told me about it years ago. Then, in the last two weeks, I have had occasion to share it with at least five people. Apparently I’m not doing a good job of describing it because they always end up looking confused and I always end up saying “I should just illustrate this in a blog post.”

Welp. Here we are!

Here we go: Inside a roll of paper towels, place a few crumbs of food. Something fragrant that a mouse would like, say, chocolate cake or cheesy cornbread. You are about to traumatize the crap out of him so make it worth his time, okay?

Place the roll of paper towels on the edge of the surface so that half of the roll is hanging off the edge of the counter. Make sure the food is on the half of the roll hanging in mid-air. Directly below, place a tall, wide-mouthed garbage can. Then turn off the lights and go to bed.

Note: Kiki, my dear friend and Math Geek Extraordinaire, would like me to clarify for all of you that the “pivot point” is actually called the “fulcrum.” I’m not sure what that means but I’ll trust her and her mathmagical knowingness about such terminology.  

When the mouse approaches the food, the paper towels will act like a see-saw and topple into the garbage can, mouse and cheesy cornbread included!

When you wake up in the morning and find that the roll is no longer on the counter, you will know what happened. Don’t even look. Just take the whole can and walk to a park or something and throw the contents into the bushes. Make sure it’s far enough that the mouse (who probably has a better sense of direction than you) can’t find his way back. Bon Voyage little mouse!

*(10 minutes later) Editor’s Note: Matt just read the post and tells me I have been doing this paper towel thing all wrong. He says he recommends “the cardboard roll, no need to waste a whole set of paper towels.”  I say, however, that the paper towels cushion the mouse’s fall. He says the mouse is going to fall out of the roll regardless, so it doesn’t matter. I say it does matter, because also, if he is there a long time, he can shred the paper towel while he is waiting. After all, he is the guest and should be made to feel comfortable. At least until his departure…then you can hurl his mousy butt halfway to St. Patrick’s Day. This is the cardinal rule of  hospitality. 


  1. says

    This was actually suggested to me the other day apparently the hardware stores mother use to use a beer bottle with the same method …my 3 cats have got lazy and only cover 2 levels of the house and outdoors ,seriously i wish they would learn mummy wants them to get them inside not outside lol…here in australia though we still have to kill the mouse its illegal to let lose what we catch …this job is left to my 9 11 and 13 yr old sons (dead or alive i have a phobia ) plastic bag with a big whoop on a tree knot tied and in the bin

  2. disqus_8UvMe8mvfZ says

    Listen to your friend Matt and go with just the tube. The weight of an entire roll of paper towels could land on the mouse and injure the poor little critter. Your could always place a few towels in the bottom of the can as a gesture of hospitality.

  3. Madison says

    if you have ants outside (usually they start outside first) in high number, this stuff works wonders —> .

    The smell is vomit inducing and it is probably extremely toxic, so it is outside only, but it works like a charm. I had such a bad fire ant infestation in the yard of my old barn that horses legs were swelling up to beach-ball sized proportions and kids weren’t allowed outside of cars for fear of death, and this stuff cleared it up in under a day.

    • says

      A brick wall or tree trunk- yes. A smooth-sided trash can – no. It’s safe.

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