How to Build the Best Mouse / Rat Trap for Good Eating!

Three Months into TEOTWAWKI . . .

“Honey, let’s have the neighbors over for dinner.”
“What are you CRAZY!? What would we feed them?”
“I don’t know, maybe some of the mice in the attic.”
“You’re sick!”
“No baby, in some countries they’re a delicacy.”

Laugh if you want, but it’s true! Read:

The hunting and eating of mice is very deeply entrenched in the customs and traditions of the Tumbuka people of Eastern rural Zambia. As a delicacy, mice might be offered with the nshima staple traditional meal, which is cooked by boiling water and stirring corn meal into it until the mixture is thick. The meal with mice might be served to guests, other respected elders, or eaten by the family as a special treat.

Scope the source and pics here.

I’ve filed this post under food AND urban survival, because it’s you city dwellers that could find this particularly useful given limited food availability in times of crisis (though rural field mice could also be targets). Mice don’t rank high on my list of favorite foods, but if I was starving . . .

Remember in the SHTF classic fiction novel Lucifer’s Hammer when the Senator was awarding small “gifts” (like the last remaining chocolate bars) to kids that came up with creative ideas for finding food – like mouse traps? Ranger Man would’ve been eating some sweet Hershey action for this design.

I wish I could take the credit for its invention, but a past co-worker showed it to me after I complained about mice in my old New England home. He learned it from his brother who lived in Alaska where they had a serious problem with mice. I use this trap all the time, because it’s very effective. It’s biggest advantage, in a place riddled with mice, is that you can slay a virtual endless number of mice without having to reset the trap (which is why it’s a hit in Alaska). Also, unlike snap traps where the mouse may spring the trap and survive, there is no room for error with this one.

Supplies Needed: one 5 gallon bucket, a piece of wire or thin rope, a plastic bottle, a mouse “ramp” and some peanut butter. Yes, I understand the “use peanut butter to get food?” argument. Substitute what you must for your situation, perhaps you have some rotten food that’d otherwise make you sick. OR, after you’ve trapped some mice, lick the remaining peanut butter off yourself. ;-)


Assembly: Drill a small hole in each end of the plastic bottle. I use a stripped piece of electrical wire. Thread it through the bottle and secure the ends to the bucket’s handles. The bottle should then sit over the bucket’s opening with the ability to spin freely. Lather it in peanut butter, place the bucket where the mice are apt to smell it, and set a ramp for the mice to climb. I used a scrap piece of drywall, but anything will work.


The mice climb up the ramp, reach for the peanut butter, spin the bottle and fall into the bucket. They can’t get out. For my purposes, I put several inches of water in the bottom of the bucket and let them drown. Cruel? Perhaps, but I don’t dig mice in my house and this trap rules. For survival purposes the bucket should be left empty so that your dinner is fresh!



You can even see its poop. He’s another view of the little bastard after I took him out with the wood ashes.


There’s not much meat there, though. Catching rats would be better. Urban dwellers could probably produce a bigger rodent meat supply than I could.

– Ranger Man

18 comments… add one
  • GeologyJoe December 31, 2007, 9:10 am

    I love this trap and have also used it with much success.
    I construct it slightly differently and use the bucket handle instead of the wire.

  • Chris in ky December 31, 2007, 9:18 am

    Have you tried it without the water?

    From what I understand mice can jump straight up almost 24 inches.

    You may not be able to keep them trapped without the water.

  • Ranger Man December 31, 2007, 9:21 am

    Thanks for the comment, Chris. Yes, it works without water. One time I threw the dead mouse out with the water and didn’t refill it out of laziness, and another time I had only a little water that eventually evaporated. Both yielded dead mice.

  • Jerry in So IL December 31, 2007, 10:45 am

    I had a 30 gallon container to keep dog food in the garage. The mice and rats and a few squirrels would get trapped in it when the food was low and someone left the lid off or cracled.


  • ryan December 31, 2007, 6:58 pm

    I have heard of this trap being used before but the guy used crisco. Any sort of food which would stick to the water bottle would work. I don’t think that your going to get alot out of mice in terms of roasting but maybe for some kind of mouse soup or something. I personally think I would have eaten all the dogs and cats in the area before I started on mice. Hopefully our preps will mean that we don’t have to eat rodents but if that is necessary its bette to know how to do it then not.

  • Harmony Hermit January 1, 2008, 8:47 am

    The ancients in Europe used a beer keg open at the top and a layer of corks floating on top. Rats would walk up the ramp and try to walk on the corks, fall through and drown in the beer. Won’t work with water, rats can swim forever.

    Hmmmmm….beer soaked rattatouille.

  • TIM W January 1, 2008, 6:11 pm

    Hope it never comes to the point that I have to feed my family with members of the rodent family, but if I do, I can see where this would sure would put a bit of ” meat ” on the table.

  • likeitsimple January 2, 2008, 8:33 am

    Looks simple yet effective. I’ll have a go…
    I had a conventional spring rat trap in my shed
    and caught 2 rats.
    One was a clean instant kill but the other one got it on the leg and had to terminate it manually…a bit messy.
    Just a question, dod you ever see rats or mice getting clever about the trap? or peanut butter too good for them to ignore???

  • likeitsimple January 2, 2008, 8:39 am

    I was just reading through….
    The eating part of it is just a joke right?
    I suppose you won’t live long after eating one of those…

  • Ranger Man January 2, 2008, 9:01 am

    likeitsimple, I’ve never found a rat or mouse get clever with the trap. Of course, if they did, I wouldn’t have known. It’s not like it gets sprung like a snap trap.
    That being said, make sure the bottle spins easily. I did find a dead mouse in it once, and he’d licked the bottle nearly clean. It wasn’t until he started going for the underside of the bottle that he fell in.
    I’ve never caught a rat in it, but I think it’s becaues I’ve never had a rat encounter it. There’s no opportunity for rats/mice to learn from their mistakes with this trap.

  • likeitsimple January 2, 2008, 10:23 am

    I see, thanks for the feedback. I was just wondering if they would learn…through the mistakes of others… Since the bait (rapeseed cooking oil) has lost its attraction
    after 2 catches eventhough I sometimes see rats running across the shed floor…Probably it could smell blood from the previous catch on the trap… Will let you know if the bucket trap works on rats.

  • SHTFCOMMENT January 4, 2009, 12:50 pm

    I wonder if a HUUUUGE RAT would fall for this.

  • andrew earle August 31, 2010, 7:01 pm

    I’ve made an elaborate one of these. I put it in an area with rats, never caught one. I wonder if they climb right out… they have sharp claws. i might try a metal bucket.

  • a rat trap April 12, 2011, 1:17 am

    For those looking for a humane option, using a rat trap comprised of a metal cage with a special mechanism designed to close once the rat enters the cage. Inside the metal cage, bait is placed to entice the rat to enter. The rat triggers the door to shut upon entering the cage and ends up trapped inside. This allows you to trap, transport and release the rat at a location of your choosing.

  • Arve Clark October 16, 2015, 9:59 pm

    for those of you looking for a more inhumane way – put battery acid in the bottom of the bucket. Rodents suck no matter the shape or size


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