Home Made 5 Gallon Bucket Traps That Really Work


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Ever heard the phrase “build a better mouse trap?” Well that’s phrase is now obsolete because there is no better mouse trap than this!

The bucket mouse trap catches many mice in a single trap and does not need to be reset between mice. It’s also so simple to make that you probably already have all the parts needed lying around your garage.

Never purchase commercial mouse traps or poison again!

bucket mouse trap

Build a Bucket Mousetrap

So you’ve decided to take care of your mouse problem the bucket way!

thread dowel through bucket

You’ll just need a few items to make this quick trap.

Assemble your Soldiers:

  1. 5 Gallon Bucket
  2. Dowel – metal is best but wood will work (try a metal clothes hanger)
  3. Tin can (pop can works fine)
  4. Peanut butter
  5. Scrap of wood for ramp

The Process:

  1. Drill holes at the top of the bucket, on 2 opposite sides
  2. Drill holes in the middle of each flat side of a soda can
  3. Insert a dowel through the bucket holes and the soda can holes, to end up with a unit that looks like the image.
  4. Bait with peanut butter and add a ramp for the mice to get up.
  5. Fill the bottom few inches with water if you plan to kill the mice, or leave it if you want to release them somewhere or feed them live to your snake!

The trap works when a mouse at the top of the ramp tries to jump onto the tin can to eat the bait. The mouse’s weight throws the can into motion, which bucks the mouse off into the bucket below.

Several readers have asked about the green liquid in the bottom of the pail. Some bucket mouse trappers use antifreeze in their pails. It helps “preserve” the mice, preventing them from rotting and creating a huge odor problem. This might be necessary if you’re trapping mice in a vacation cabin or bug out shelter which you won’t visit for months at a time. It will also make sure the liquid does not freeze in an unheated building.

Alternative Designs

There are tons of alternative designs for the bucket mouse trap. Every single one’s been discussed in the comments sections. I’m going to outline my favorite variations here.

Bucket Rat Trap

What works for mice also works for rats, but rats can escape from a 5 gallon bucket so use a 55 gallon drum instead. For a drowning trap use at least 6 inches of water in the bottom.

Plank Design

This bucket mouse trap’s being used in a chicken house. Mice are a big problem for chicken keepers since they love to fatten themselves on those expensive little chicken pellets.

plank bucket mouse trap

The biggest disadvantage of this trap is you need to reset it after every 2 mice it catches. It’s also likely that your chickens will knock your delicate planks down.

But what I do like about this design is that this bucket is square. Meaning it can be mounted on that 2×4 behind it. So you can hang your trap up in a shed or coop, it doesn’t have to take up floor place.

Also – did you know that chickens will eat mice? I’ve seen a chicken swallow a mouse whole.

Catch Multiple Mice in Less Space

Since I first wrote this article in 2012, I’ve observed numerous new mouse trap designs come to market. But very few can catch multiple mice without being reset.

My favorite so far is this mouse condo design. It’s tiny – way smaller than the bucket mouse trap – and cheap. It doesn’t need to be reset, and can hold numerous mice. It’s also got a big window so you can see when the trap is full. Best of all it’s (mostly) made from metal so it’s durable.

This trap is a “humane” trap – meaning it doesn’t kill the mice. You’ll have to drive them out to the landfill or something to release them. Or feed them to your snake.

It’s also the best performing humane trap on the market, although it still doesn’t perform quite as well as kill traps do. If you want to try it out, here’s the link to the Amazon listing.

Mouse Trap Links:

  • Mouse Roller” – one company made the dowel portion of the mouse bucket trap for you. Outer sheath rotates along a central axis. Make sure you have the right width bucket though; it apparently won’t work on standard 5 gallon size.
  • Live Catch Cage Trap – a very popular no-kill trap that doesn’t just catch mice. Works on rats, squirrels, weasels and moles. Might catch your pet too, but it won’t hurt them.
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