Welcome to the 100% Rodent Trap Project!
- Smartphone alerts prevent smelly messes
- The goal is to have 100% successful catch rate for mice and rats
- Bait cannot be stolen without triggering
With the aid of a night vision security camera, I could see how traps failed and make improvements. With modified traps I've caught 110 mice, 4 rats, 3 shrews, 1 chipmunk and 1 squirrel. This is version 2 with the following improvements:
- A second hammer has been added to improve the catch rate for shrews and small mice
- Wireless updated to Z-Wave Plus to allow smartphone alerts, Zigbee or other types could be substituted
Here's the link to the original version using x-10 wireless. Most of the steps will be the same, I'll just describe the improvements for now and add more pictures and text later. As of 3/31/2019 my catch rate is 100%, I've caught 36/36 mice with no empty traps.
Step 1: Improvements!
Version 2 has a second hammer for shrews and small mice. There was a shrew in my garage, it set off the original version trap ~5 TIMES before it was caught! It was so small, the hammer was going over the top. The second hammer is a wire from a ski lift ticket. The ends are wrapped around the hammer 3 times. The wire in the picture is 14 gauge copper wire, the ski ticket wire is thinner so the trap closes better.
The trap is now placed in a 1/2 gallon milk container. Milk containers are readily available and waterproof so they will hold up better in damp areas than cardboard. You will need to cut a large hole in the top of the milk carton so the hammer will clear, see the picture. I'm planning on taping ONE end of a piece of paper or light plastic over the hole so rodents won't try to crawl in the top. When the trap fires, it will push the paper/plastic out of the way. Note: I'm still testing and tweaking the box, the box is now made of 1.5 milk cartons to make it taller and prevent entry from the top.
The electronics have been updated to Z-Wave Plus because it has the best range of the less expensive home automation solutions and you can get alerts anywhere on any smartphone. Make sure to get Z-Wave Plus, it has better range and battery life than the older plain Z-Wave. You will need to buy one Z-Wave Plus hub and a Z-Wave Plus window/door sensor for each trap, below is what I bought. You could use any home automation system such as Zigbee. I had to take the magnet out of the plastic to make it fit, currently it is taped on the back of the trap. I'm planning on drilling a hole and securing it with a zip-tie. The electronics slide into two large zip ties that are taped to the back, see the picture. Don't make the zip-ties too tight so you can slide the electronics out to change the battery. Note: An internet connection is needed for Z-Wave Plus or any other home automation system.
Z-Wave Sensor Range Improvement
I added passive helper antennas to the sensors and the smartthub to increase the range. Tape an 8" piece of wire to the sensor and an 8" wire to the face of the smartthub. Here is the instructable I made on this mod. Other things to try to increase the range are moving the hub closer to any sensors that are having communication issues. Also for a Samsung Smartthings Hub try pointing the face of the hub towards a problematic sensor.
Electronics to buy
Buy one: Z-Wave Plus Hub, I use Samsung Smartthings Hub v3 ~$65
Buy one Z-Wave Plus sensor for each trap: Monoprice Z-Wave Plus Door/Window Sensor, No LOGO ~$17 at monoprice.com Note: Monoprice has 2 versions under $20, I bought one that is more rectangular and uses a Lithium battery and another that is curved and uses 2 AAA batteries. I'll report back which one I like more after more field testing.
Step 2: Original Version Steps
Do the steps below from the original version, here's the link
- Top Shield (packaging tape on top enables easy clean-up)
- Rear Guards (plastic guards prevent rodents from going to the back of the trap)
- Hold-down Bar Pinch (makes the trap more sensitive)
- Hammer Bow (makes the trap more sensitive)
- Catch Bend Side (makes the trap more sensitive)
- Bait (claws get stuck in a mesh bag zip-tied on, it can't be stolen without triggering the trap)