Pest Advice Blog

A Brief History of the Mousetrap

A Brief History of the Mousetrap

As temps cool this holiday season, rodents and pests may find your home an inviting location to settle in for a long winter’s nap. Truly Nolen takes a look at the history of the mousetrap, as we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season. Truly Nolen also suggests contacting a professional pest control company should you detect any activity of the scurrying sort that threatens to ruin your jovial festivities. Co-existing with humans throughout history, rodents pose health threats to humans and pets and can cause extensive damage to homes. For these reasons and others, a lengthy list of rodent-ridding devices has crossed the threshold of the patent office over time.

Rodents have fueled humans’ obsession with inventing the perfect mousetrap for centuries

It seems humans have always been obsessed by the desire to invent the perfect mousetrap. In a 15th century triptych depicting Joseph’s carpentry studio, the artist Merode painted a box with a hinged lid and a torsion-sprung device that captured mice in a box, when triggered.  Preceding the humane Merode mousetraps, medieval accounts of guillotine-type traps can be found.

Probably the first patented mousetrap, it involved a wire caging device that captured mice alive. Patented in 1870 by South Carolinian, K. Bachman, numerous variations of this type of humane live capture traps existed at the time.

The “Royal No. 1,” established the mousetrap in the industrial age

According to historians, although New Yorker, James M. Keep patented the first lethal mousetrap in November 1879, “it was evident from the patent description,” that his was not the only mousetrap around at the time, but an industrial age design that replaced the deadfall mechanism with a wound spring and a simpler, easy to manufacture design. Keep’s “Royal No. 1” traps are now constructed from lightweight plastic and safer for anyone setting the traps than other lethal mousetraps.

The classic spring-loaded mousetrap patented by Illinois native, William C Hooker

Shortly after Keep’s innovation, in 1894, Illinois native, William C. Hooker first patented the more familiar spring-loaded device, recognized today as the classic mousetrap. Improving on Hooker’s design, in 1898, British inventor, James Henry Atkinson patented the “Little Nipper,” that included a weight-activated treadle, as a tripping mechanism.  The Little Nipper, with its rectangular flat, wooden base, spring trap and wire fastenings still holds the record for its 38,000th of a second closing speed.

James Henry Atkinson’s Little Nipper still leads the market in spring-loaded mousetraps

While Pennsylvanian John Mast patented a similar mouse trap in 1899, Atkinson’s Little Nipper continues to capture 60% of the British, as well as the international, mousetrap market share. Since 1913, when Atkinson sold his patent to his manufacturer, the Procter Brothers, for £2,000. The UK company has been making the “Pest Stop Little Nipper” in its Yorkshire, then its South Wales factories. Procter Brothers’ headquarters even houses a mousetrap museum featuring 150 exhibits.

In recent developments, mousetraps come in many forms

Different types of mousetraps have been developed over time, including simple DIY toilet paper rolls extending over a deep bucket or some sort of container that tips mice into the container when they are drawn to bait placed at the end of the roll. In the 1920s, Austin Kness received a patent for his live capture device, the Kness-Ketch All Multiple Catch trap that uses no bait and can trap several mice at a time. Other innovations in mousetraps include the controversial glue trap and electric traps. Along with the Kness device and the Little Nipper, these inventions comprise a list of about twenty mousetraps that proved commercially successful, out of the more than 4,400 mousetrap issued.

Rodent issues should be handled professionally

While mousetraps can help reduce rodent populations in homes, homeowners should be aware that a professional pest control company will save time, money and help to keep your spirits merry and bright. Because rodent populations grow at rapid rates, addressing a rodent issue as soon as possible is essential. Also, rodents, especially rats, tend to be wary of new things in their environments, so reducing rodent populations can take a long time, if not skillfully attended to.

Traps and commercial baits can be messy and dangerous to small children and pets and rodent carcasses can be difficult to find, behind wall voids and other hard-to-reach places. Additionally, cleaning rodent waste and eliminating the diseases and pathogens associated with vectors and feasting insects should be left to professionals.

Contact Truly Nolen to schedule a free pest inspection and devise a customized plan to eliminate rodents from your home.

Truly Nolen’s innovative, pet- and people-friendly approach

  • Exclusion: Sealing all cracks, crevices and other entranceways to your home, around your foundation, as well as around windows and doors.
  • Reduction: The regular removal of rodent carcasses ensures rodent carcasses are located and disposed of properly without chemicals. Our technicians also treat vectors, such as fleas and ticks.  After rodents are eliminated, Truly Nolen technicians use a specially designed HEPA vacuuming system to safely remove feasting insect and vector materials from your home.
  • Monitoring: Keeping your home and your specific needs first, Truly Nolen monitors all traps until all rodents are eliminated.

Help prevent rodents from entering your home

You can exclude and make your home unattractive to rodents, by:

  • Regularly cleaning and sanitizing all food prep and dining areas.
  • Securely storing all open dried goods in glass, metal or hard plastic containers.
  • Storing open food containers in the fridge and discarding all leftover food in closed trash receptacles.
  • Regularly cleaning and sanitizing outdoor trash receptacles.
  • Removing debris and clutter from the interior and exterior of your home, and trimming branches away from your home.

Contact Truly Nolen to prevent or eliminate rodents from your home and devise a plan to keep your home rodent-free. By regularly cleaning and sanitizing your home and property and keeping cracks and crevices sealed, chances are, rodents will head on down to the Griswolds’ for the holidays. Happy wishes to you and yours during this special time of year!


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