The Simplest Mouse Trap You'll Ever Make
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The Simplest Mouse Trap You'll Ever Make

Build a very simple and surprisingly effective mousetrap using a wide-mouth glass jar and a nickle...

"Boss, I Done Seen Me a Mouse!"

I love that line from the movie "The Green Mile." In this 1999 movie (based upon a Stephen King six-volume novel) starring Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb Death Row Supervisor, and Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey the death row prisoner/inmate. The movie is about the lives of the guards in a prison's Death Row section days before the execution of an innocent black man. Found cradling the lifeless bodies of two sexually-abused young girls and wailing pitifully, the townsmen find him and assume his guilt. Unable to prove his innocence, John Coffey was convicted and sentenced by the court to die by electrocution. His only statement at the time was his pitiful and misinterpreted wailing "I couldn't take it back" which was roundly considered to be his confession of guilt.

The inmate John Coffey has an incredible discretionary faith healing ability which manifests itself several times in the story. He has the ability to 'take back' the ailment of the afflicted and expel it into the air where it dissipates. He can even 'take back' death if he can reach the body in time.

In the final days before execution these other-worldly powers begin to seemingly affect everyone around him for the better. His aura appears to have also attracted a little field mouse to the prison death row where it happily takes-up residence, unafraid of humans.

Part of the movie deals with this small mouse and how it fearlessly makes itself to home. Attracted to the faith healer and befriended another death row inmate whom procures a cigar box with cotton and fashions a nest for the mouse. He even gives the mouse a name.

When the mouse first appeared late one evening scurrying boldly down the main aisle of the prison, the condemned inmate lying quietly on his bunk observes the mouse and informs the supervisor very casually "Boss, I done seen me a mouse."

A Mouse in the House -Not so Cute

However, if you have a mouse in your house it is not so cute. Mice like to chew. They get into your food, gnaw on electric cables, and leave food scatterings. And they carry diseases. Fecal spoors found on the tabletops and floors are usually the first indication that you have a mouse in the house. Pests have to go. Building a live-catch trap is an opportunity to do something effective and frugally.

I came across a simple and surprisingly effective frugal mousetrap system several years ago. I only used it once and yes, I did catch a mouse in my bathroom using this very concept!

To Build a Better Mousetrap - or a Very Simple Live-Catch Trap

wide-mouth glass jar or mug, a small dab of peanut butter and a nickel

You will need a wide-mouth glass container such as a root beer mug (pictured here) or an empty & cleaned glass peanut butter jar, a small dab of peanut butter and a nickel. The jar must be glass; plastic is not heavy enough. That is all the parts you will need!

Bait the Mousetrap with Peanut Butter

Smear a thumb-sized wad of peanut butter in the bottom of the jar or mug. The container should be at least six inches tall. Set the mug upside-down on the kitchen counter or floor, wherever the mouse has been seen. You can use a paper towel (below) to help prevent the cup from sliding around.

Prop one side of the cup up on the edge of the nickel, as shown. A nickel is the perfect height for this. A dime is not tall enough and the mouse will likely trigger the dead-fall trap before actually entering it, and a quarter is too tall. The container just might fall over onto its side, rendering the trap ineffective.

The Mouse Trap is Baited and Set

heavy wide-mouth glass jar or cup is propped-up in the edge of a nickle

Lured by the smell of peanut butter, our mouse (lovingly depicted with a small teddy bear from my son's toy box) approaches this trap. The mouse will crawl under the jar and attempt to reach the peanut butter. The glass jar or mug is just tall enough that the mouse cannot reach the peanut butter bait, and must jump. If the jar is not tall enough, the mouse might just stand on hind legs and eat the bait and leave. You want to position the cup or jar so that the peanut butter dab is propped the highest, directly over the nickel as shown above. If the peanut butter bait is opposite of the nickel, the jumping of the mouse might tip to cup over onto its side and the trap is defeated.

Because the mouse jumps to reach the bait, s/he bumps & jiggles the glass jar which in turn falls off of the nickel. You just caught the mouse!

the glass jar or mug dead-fall trap has been triggered, capturing a mouse inside!

There will be enough air in the upturned glass mug for the mouse to survive until you check your trap. By sliding a sheet of cardstock cardboard (pizza box, tissue cardboard box, etc.) under the jar you can easily lift and remove the mug or jar and mouse to the outdoors and release him.

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Comments (18)
Ranked #25 in Frugal Living

Oh so simple! Love the visuals :-)

fantastic! and not nasty. I love the Green mile, one of my favs!

Ranked #21 in Frugal Living

Proof that an entire article can be created, -including images, -in 30-minutes or less. ;-)

This is very innovative, but with a five year old in the house I am more likely to be cleaning sticky fingers if I use this trap!

Ranked #21 in Frugal Living

I have a five year old also. Much similarity between a mouse and a 5-year old! :-)

Awesome idea! thanks for sharing..!!

seems simple enough. thnaks for sharing.

LOVE the pics! The simplest mouse trap ever.. is the CAT! Sticky Paper mouse traps are the sickest thing, the most cruel way to catch/kill an animal.. even poison is horrid but not as bad.. I prefer live traps and setting the little guys outside myself.. poor things its not their fault they were born mice.. they want to live just as much as we do. I hope you set that stuffie free in its natural environment!

well dang.. that last comment was mine but it didnt take my name.

Ranked #21 in Frugal Living

Bren, -you were a Buddhist in a past life weren't ya? Or will be in the next life? Anyway, I recognized your writing even before the follow-up. -Don't know why the comment keep dropping the name, -been doing this more lately..

Terrific article stickman. The mousetrap certainly is as the title suggests!I like how you incorporated the movie the green mile into this, nicely executed!Voted and tweeted!

Ranked #11 in Frugal Living

Living by the sea is a constant battle to keep the rodents outside especially with the number of seasonal residents. Maybe they have sqatters rights. Like this 'live trap.' I'm tired of buying and setting the other kind. The dog thinks it's a game to spring the trap for the peanut butter.

What a clever idea! I hate conventional traps. I will certainly give this trap a try!


Wow! Now that is simple AND cost effective. I tried a Ortho Kill and Contain trap and it never seemed to work right. They are even under investigation by the FTC. I'll have to try this method instead!


While that looks like a good idea, I think I'd rather just kill the mouse without having to see it dead. This trap looks like a good one:


this worked. It took three nights, but finally caught the tiniest mouse.

That looks like it'll work. It's smart and simple. And I love the introduction!


Stick, I swear they should have cast you in that show McGuyver. Thanks for supplementing my article with this piece so nicely.