The Slidewhistle Mousetrap is a wonder
of simplicity and functional beauty:
Mouse approaches trap. Mouse enters trap. Mouse trapped.
A large juice can and a coffee can will do. Just so they slide freely past each other when you fit them together, telescope fashion. How you cut out the mousehole in the larger can is up to you. The floor must be left intact. I used a power drill to closely perforate the outline and finished it off with a hacksaw blade and file. As long as you have the drill out, put a few holes in the closed end of the coffee can as well. Give your mouse some air while he waits for you to dispose of him.
The trigger and baitpan aren't very complicated either:
I whittled the original upright piece from a stick of kindling wood, but mice chewed it up in a few weeks. Now, I just cut off a piece of 5/16 inch dowel stock, a little under 2 inches long.
Drill hole to fit whatever wire you use for a baitpan. I think 10 gauge copper works best, but a big fat safety pin will do. Shim with splinters so it doesn't turn easily. If you don't, mice will steal most of your bait.
First bait the the trigger assembly with cheese or baloney. To set the trap, hold the, larger can in the left hand, axis tilted slightly down to the left from horizontal, mousehole up and to the left, open end to the right. Place the baited trigger inside the can so that one end of the dowel post is against the floor of the can, the dowel being parallel to the axis of the can and resting against the side. If your hands are too large, the trigger assembly can be oriented correctly, placed just inside the lip of the can, and allowed to slide down to the floor of the can. Then tilt the can somewhat more down to the left and insert the smaller, upper can, open end first, into the lower until its lip comes to rest on the end of the dowel post. Now cautiously turn axis of trap all the way up to vertical and set gently on the floor. The trap is set. This all worked for me the first time. But keep in mind that you want it to ... just barely work. If it is too stable, small, cautious mice can steal the cheese.
I live ten miles from town on country roads with three choices of route. I turn my captives loose somewhere along the way in. That way I see a lot of country close-up that I otherwise wouldn't. Also I never know exactly what it is I've caught, deer mouse or house mouse, adult or youngster, until I am ready to set it free. Watching it run for cover is a lift. Nothing like taking a dead, often bloody little beast out of a spring trap and giving it a tail-twirl flip up into the woods.
The Slidewhistle Mousetrap, as a live trap, can also make important contributions to your sense of integrity and self respect. If you have a soft heart for animals, you have got the unwanted beast out of your house but also spared its life. If you have contrary sentiments, then you can imagine the kinds of death it may have been saved for: being tortured to death by a wampus, or swallowed alive and slowly, feet first, by a blacksnake, or impaled by a shrike on a locust thorn.
As for me, it simply improves my disposition to find a lively mouse trapped in my kitchen of a morning, instead of a broken, bloody little memento mori in a spring trap.
I invented the trap about three years ago when my disposition was much in need of improvement. I was happy with it, but it was a happiness tinged with regrets. I wrote the trap up for the local magazine, and dedicated it to the memory of mice I had known before: Splashboard-Runner, Yarn-Stealer, Lick-Skillet, Hambone-Gnawer, Shred-Quilt, Nibble-Pie, Stovedrawer-Befouler, Toastercord-Climber and all that ghostly legion of brave ones, so many, who came in times past to the siege of my house in the woods and inopportunely died in my store-bought traps. May your descendants live longer lives, meet less ignominious ends.