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Improvements to the Mouse Trap ?

  Legend has it that "If you invent a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door". This means that if you invent something which is a success, however small, then fame and fortune will be forthcoming, even if you previously lived "off the beaten track".

Inventors often have a hard time of it in the modern age, partly because of the Patent Office being set up and run for the benefit of corporations and conglomerates not for individual inventors, but also because an inventor's new idea is typically something which is ahead of the age and which most people will not quite "get". Sometimes the world just isn't quite ready for whatever brilliant thing you've invented!

Meanwhile, on the mousetraps, the snag with inventing a "better mousetrap" is that the ones that exist commonly are quite effective. They catch mice and kill them swiftly, so, quite an efficient solution. Designing something that's a better mousetrap is tricky.

Of course there's always the argument "What about a CAT?! That's a better mouse-trap!", which has some merit. There are some cats which are brilliantly good at catching mice, and I knew of a house that was infested with mice, and then the owners got a cat, and within a few weeks there were no mice remaining.

(Bear in mind, though, cats are not a humane way to catch mice. The mice do not die painlessly, and cats show them no mercy).

The thing I invented on the 19th Jan 2010 is something which isn't exactly "a better mousetrap", but it is an improvement to existing mousetrap design. The improved mousetrap behaves exactly the same to mice as the standard type, with bait and a spring-loaded bar that is instantly lethal. However, instead of the trap looking very similar in its "primed" and "sprung" state, the improved mousetrap has a clear visible difference. It's quite simple: On one side of the bar there is a green sign (or other symbolic "safe" signal) and on the other there is a red sign (or danger-warning symbol). A trap that's primed has the bar one way up, and you can see the "danger" sign. After the trap has shot its bolt, regardless of whether it's caught a mouse, the "safe" sign shows.

This may all sound daft, as in the light of day it's obvious whether a mousetrap is set and ready to shoot or whether it has already been sprung. This is not the situation in which mousetraps are designed to operate. Mouse traps are set where there are MICE!, ie in dark secluded places, often with a lot of stuff piled up, and it's far from obvious in dark conditions whether you still have a trap which has "not yet caught the mouse" or whether somehow the trap has been sprung and the mouse has sneakily made-off with the bait. Adding a visual indicator resolves this, making it clear at a glance whether the trap has been sprung or not. So, besides the obvious safety improvement so you don't make a mistake and get your fingers caught, there's also the tamper-evident nature of the improved mousetrap so you can see if it's been sprung.

Obviously if there's a dead mouse in the trap then you know it's been sprung, but sometimes a mouse can get the bait and spring the trap, and then a normal trap looks very similar in that state to when it's still primed.

If you want to implement this yourself, just get a standard mousetrap, and fit a piece of card that's a different colour on one side to the other, on the corner of the mouse-clouting bar, and have it coded so it's "safe" or "dangerous", for example red or yellow/black danger stripes on one side, and green or calm images on the other side. When the trap is primed, danger signs show, and when it's been sprung and can't catch your fingers, safe signs show. Easy, really!

I thought I'd better mention the idea just in case there's some unseemly patent dispute, and that's a trap that none of us want to go near!

Also see: inventions, inventor resources, mice, concepts, etc.

Places where you can get mousetraps include: Wilko

The same invention also applies to Rat Traps. Now you really don't want to get caught in them!