Catching Mice Humanely and for Free


Introduction: Catching Mice Humanely and for Free

About: I like making things - anything and everything - and figuring out how to do things by myself. I blog about it as YorkshireCrafter on

I don't like having mice running around my kitchen, gnawing the bars of soap and wooden spoons. But I'd rather not kill wild creatures that are just trying to find somewhere warm in the winter. And I really don't like removing squashed vermin from conventional sprung traps. So I use the method my grandmother taught me, which causes no harm to the mouse and is surprisingly effective. Usually I manage to catch the interloper on the first night, although sometimes it takes two or three nights. Then I relocate it to a wood on the other side of a road, in the hope it will be happy there and won't find its way back.

The other big advantage of this method is it uses things that you will already have around the house. It saves having to try and remember where you put the mousetrap after its last outing.

All you need is:

  1. A large bowl, such as a mixing bowl, preferably glass
  2. A thimble, or a bottle cap of a similar size and shape
  3. Bait - chocolate and peanut butter are good, or go with the old favourite, cheese
  4. A sheet of stiff cardboard big enough to cover the bowl
  5. Flour (optional)

Warning: just occasionally, a mouse will be injured or killed using this method, so buy a humane mousetrap instead if you really can't bear the thought. You can find them in pet shops where they are sold for re-capturing escapee pet mice and hamsters.

Step 1: Setting the Trap

The best time to catch mice is overnight, when it's quiet and dark and they feel it's safe to come out and look for food. Before you go to bed, choose where to set the trap. It needs to go on a hard, smooth surface where there is evidence of mouse activity - droppings, in other words. If you can figure out where the mice are getting in or are hiding out during the day, then put it nearby. Clear away everything else from the area that a mouse may want to eat.

Put some bait into the thimble. Push it well in - for something hard like cheese or chocolate, cut a piece that will wedge into the bottom of the thimble. It needs to be quite difficult for the mouse to get it out.

Now place the thimble on its side with the upturned bowl resting on it and the open end of the thimble inside the bowl. Then go to bed. The mouse will come along, smell the bait, squeeze under the edge of the bowl next to the thimble and paw at the thimble from inside the bowl to get at the bait. The thimble rolls, the bowl drops and voila! you have caught a mouse.

If you're using a ceramic bowl or one made of some other opaque material, it's a good idea to dust flour lightly around the trap, then you can tell if there's a mouse under it or not. Sometimes the mouse will nudge the thimble on its way into the bowl with the result that the bowl falls without trapping the mouse, or lands on the mouse and kills it. But if you find the bowl flat on the floor and a set of pawprints going in one direction only, you know you've caught something and you can proceed to the next step. Otherwise, just put the bowl and thimble away and try again the next night. Mice don't have long memories, fortunately.

Step 2: Releasing the Mouse

To remove the mouse, slide a piece of cardboard under the bowl. (Slowly! You don't want to hurt the mouse do you, or you wouldn't be catching it this way?) Don't lift the edge of the bowl any higher than is absolutely necessary, because mice can squeeze through incredibly tight gaps.

Then you can pick up bowl, mouse and cardboard and relocate the captive to a less domestic environment.

Apologies for the photo quality, taking a decent picture through a glass bowl isn't easy.

Pest Control Challenge

Runner Up in the
Pest Control Challenge



    • Stick It! Contest

      Stick It! Contest
    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest
    • Make it Move Contest

      Make it Move Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    This method is by far the quickest and easiest I have seen. It requires no work at all to set up, which is good because I need something I can use tonight. To say we have a mouse problem would be an understatement. Two nights ago, I actually saw one climb up onto a table in the living room and help itself to some water from my mother's cup. :/

    Even so, I am reluctant to kill the poor wee things. And I am also reluctant to spend any more money on ineffective traps. I gave in and set some "sure to kill" snap traps, only to end up having to dispatch a mouse by drowning it myself after I couldn't stand listening to it thrash around in agony any longer. Another one somehow managed to escape the trap, but was likely injured too severely to have survived, meaning it crawled away to die somewhere in the walls. Another one of traps had the bait stolen from it without being triggered, which was supposed to be impossible. At over $5 a trap, I expected better results. The live traps I have bought in the past were even more expensive and not very effective because it took too long to catch each mouse, giving them ample time to increase the population. This way, I can set up multiple traps in one night without spending a dime. Thanks for the tip. :-)

    Humane methods for mice control is always a good choice if we are doing mice extermination with DIY techniques. But these DIY methods can only prevent the mouse's presence for a short span of time. So, having your house treated regularly with the help of a professional mouse exterminator is always recommended over DIY mice control methods.

    this is awesome, I can't wait to do it. I am not sure if I have a rat/mouse, but I suspect I do because I hear scratches in the middle of the night and I also saw a small black thing run past me last time. I'll try it just in case??

    1 reply

    It can't do any harm to set a trap and see what happens.

    I am going to try this. (PS - Photography is easier when you have proper lighting. "Glass" doesn't enter into it.)

    1 reply

    I think part of the problem is the camera focused on the glass and not the mouse beyond it. But lighting was an issue too - I didn't want to use the flash in case I scared the mouse. (Like I said, I'm soft.)

    Thanks for contributing a very humane option to the contest.

    1 reply

    My pleasure. I'm soft where small furry animals are concerned.

    Ingenious, simple and effective.

    About the only critter problem I have is armadillos, they forage for grubs in my yard, but the prehistoric looking goofballs are so entertaining, especially when my Dachshund takes off after them, that I consider their presence theater and just enjoy the show. ☺

    2 replies

    To catch armadillos you'd need a considerably bigger bowl ...

    But I'm glad you leave them be if they're not doing any harm. I get foxes and deer in the garden. The deer eat everything but are hard to exclude because they can jump, the foxes dig holes and leave messy droppings. I have given up trying to deter either of them, it's nice to have wildlife to watch.

    And to catch some of the 'gators that live in our canals would require an unbelievably big bowl. ☺

    I wondered why you had a thimble by your bowl in the first step. pretty smart actually!

    1 reply

    Thanks! It's really quick to set the trap in comparison with most DIY mousetraps.