Find Out If Bucket Mouse Traps are Effective and How to Create Your Own Unique Version!

Edited by
Inga Cryton
Reading Time: 30 minutes.
Updated: .

Many who have struggled long and hard to rid themselves of their mice in other ways, upon trying a bucket mouse trap, have finally been successful.

There are nearly endless types of mouse traps out there, and you can use a host of strategies to deter, block out, or kill invasive rodents. And we don’t want to say that those other methods don’t have their place – a multi-pronged offensive is always best.

But the bucket mouse trap is one of the most effective methods you can use. And it’s straightforward to make. As you read this, you probably have all of the tools and parts for it at your house right now, and construction would take only minutes.

Read on to learn more about why you should use a bucket trap and how to build one!

The Effectiveness of 5-Gallon Bucket Mouse Traps

Maybe you feel like your household mice have escaped your trapping efforts and demonstrated such great skill at evasion and survival that they deserve a permanent plaque or recognition. Try using a bucket mouse trap; you can change how the story ends.

Bucket mouse traps often catch multiple mice per night.

Bucket style mouse traps are the number one most effective homemade mouse trap in existence. They almost always work and keep working effectively for weeks and months.

Easy bucket trap instructionIt’s true there are many variables that affect where mouse dare venture and whether or not they can be teased into tripping a trap, and so we can’t quite give a 100% guarantee. But those limitations apply to any trap, and you can always experiment with bait, location, and other set-up variations until you start catching mice.

The fact is, bucket traps are among the most effective of all mouse traps, both DIY and store-bought included in that assessment.

And besides doing a great job at trapping mice, other benefits of this kind of trap include:

  • Cheap, fast, and easy to construct.
  • Highly portable so you can relocate to new “mousing spots.”
  • No need to reset the trap after each catch.
  • Can kill mice or hold them for release, as desired.

Traps in Action

A bucket trap may or may not be the best humane mouse trap. It all depends on how you use it. But it is a highly effective one that’s easy to make and use.

But how does the mouse-catching process work with bucket mouse traps?

Here is a step by step scenario to illustrate:

  • Your mouse smells the delicious aroma of peanut butter wafting through the house and follows its nose to the bucket trap.
  • The mouse “walks the plank” out on a small, flat piece of wood.
  • The mouse tries to get the peanut butter spread all over a pop can suspended on a hanger wire over the middle of the bucket.
  • Mousy finally gets brave and tries to jump onto the can, but it turns and drops him (splash!) into the water at the bucket trap’s bottom.
  • The mouse drowns in the water. You find it the next morning and dispose of the body.
See More ImagesBucket mice trap in action
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5-Gallon Mouse Bucket Trap Plans

There are almost endless bucket mouse trap plans, nearly all made entirely from household items.

These plans come down to two main groups, however. Some of them have the mouse walk out on a board that drops like a seesaw from the animal’s weight. The other variety will entice the mouse to jump onto a can, then spin and throw it into the bucket.

Bucket mouse trap plan

And don’t be afraid to “get creative” and make your own bucket mouse trap plans. Take measurements, and write a rudimentary “blueprint” of your “better mouse trap.” Combine elements of different models or think up something new.

Catching Mice in a Bucket of Water

You can use virtually any bucket and H2O to catch and kill mice. It’s not complicated. But there are certainly those who object to destroying their mice by drowning – for them, consider a “dry catch” approach (see the lidded bucket trap model mentioned later in this article!)

How high can a mouse jump?
Why do you need water in the bottom of your bucket mouse trap OR a top lid? The answer may surprise you: mice can jump as high as 12 inches, meaning they may be able to jump clear out of the bucket (and some have reported this happening.) And they’ve also been known to climb around 12 inches, even up smooth, vertical walls like those on the side of a bucket.

But to kill mice with a bucket of water, you bait your bucket trap with peanut butter, cream cheese, jelly, or anything else that attracts mice and let it do its work.

Placement is critical, too. Plant the trap wherever you’ve seen or heard mice or noticed their urine trails, feces, or where they chewed on your stored food. Please don’t use a lightweight bucket that will tip over easily or place the trap in busy walking zones.

And you only need maybe three or four inches of water to do the job – mice drown in shallow water.

5-Gallon Bucket Mouse Trap Ideas

We’ve mentioned that there are numerous ideas out there on how to build a bucket mouse trap. Since there are hundreds of them, we can’t list them all here.

But here are a number of the most critical variations to consider incorporating into your trap:

  • Use antifreeze instead of water in the pail. It keeps the dead mice from smelling or decomposing quickly plus prevents the liquid from freezing. But it’s dangerous if kids or pets are around and probably isn’t necessary unless leaving a trap at a vacation home while away or in a barn or something.
  • Make a “dry trap” with a lid. Cut a hole in the side of the bucket, and place a walking plank that goes up to the hole and then straight a few inches. You just put the spinning PB can in the middle of the bucket instead of near the top.
  • Use multiple planks to catch more mice. It works no matter which plank you use: stationary or seesaw version.
  • Use a square bucket so that it won’t tip over easily and so you can mount it easier. It is often the kind of trap used in chicken coops, where mice always steal those expensive chicken feed pellets. And chickens eat mice – so you’ll be collecting food for your fowls, in this case, simultaneously!
  • Use a store-bought “mouse roller” instead of making your own from a pop can and hanger. Be sure it fits a standard-sized 5-gallon bucket, though, since they’re not always the right size.
See More ImagesMouse roller for 5-gallon bucket
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Finally, note that if you are after rats instead of mice, you’ll need a 55-gallon drum and six inches of water instead of a 5-gallon bucket and only three inches.

How to Make the Bucket Trap for Mice: DIY Instructions

We’ve all experienced store-bought mouse traps not working and quickly blamed the designer or manufacturer. Here’s your chance to build a trap, so you know it’s done right!

The process is relatively simple, but it does involve a few steps.

Here is a DIY guide to building your very own bucket mouse trap:

  1. Get a standard 5-gallon bucket and drill two holes. You want a drill and drill bit that makes a hole slightly bigger than the width of a metal hanger. You want one hole on each side of the bucket.
  2. Grab an empty aluminum pop can and drill a hole in each end. Use the same bit as you used with the bucket.
  3. Use snips to cut off a wire hanger’s long, straight bottom section.
  4. Insert the wire through one bucket hole, through the pop can, and then through the other bucket hole. Bend the wire ends on the outside of the bucket to hold it in place, and move the can to the center of the bucket.
  5. Spread peanut butter over the pop can evenly so it won’t be weighted to stay on a particular side.
  6. Take a yardstick and cut off a six-inch piece. Super-glue the cut-off piece to the bucket’s edge. Then lay the remaining yardstick from floor to cut-off piece to form a mouse entry ramp.
  7. Fill the bottom of the bucket with three inches of water. Wait for mice to go swimming.

It’s not hard to make a bucket mouse trap, as you can see, and remember, adjust and customize your trap in any way you think will work better.

Bucket mouse traps are not, of course, the only mouse traps out there that work. But they are among the most effective mouse trap models and cost you nothing to build and use.

You can make as many of these traps as you like and place them in all your “mouse trouble spots.” You don’t have to check them every day, and you don’t have to reset the trap. Just set it up and let it do its magic!

You can find further details of Mice Control here.

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  1. A bucket trap with water is not a humane method. In fact it’s illegal.

    • Who cares they are mouse or rats… Everything is illegal nowadays. Also don’t care about that either…

      • Zip it, Karen. Nobody wants to hear your whining.

      • How do you feel about Hantavirus, Salmonelosis, Leptospirosis , LCM and other rodent spread diseases?

      • Right I agree. Rodents are discusting and carry diseases. I really don’t care to save a rodent when it can cause me and my family medical issues. To each his own if you (people) want to save them then go ahead but Don’t care if they die. People care more about a life of a rodent than they do of an unborn child.

    • , “in fact it’s illegal” bro you came read an entire article about how to make a trap that is pretty clear from the title it’s the mouse equivalent to running buffalo herds off cliffs. Ignored the writer whom catered to all prospective bucket trap builders wants/needs and then threw down the, “it’s not just inhumane it’s illegal” which is false and a complete myth, traping laws that protect other animals do not apply to a rodent infestation in your house.

      In DC it’s illegal to seek them outside of your home, proactive rodent control is via the pros and they release them back in Maryland or Virginia.

      According to Section 116125 of the California Health & Safety code, California citizens aren’t just allowed to trap rats and mice, they are encouraged to for health and safety concerns: “Every person possessing a place that is infested with rodents, as soon as their presence comes to his or her knowledge, shall at once proceed and continue in good faith to endeavor to exterminate and destroy the rodents, by poisoning, trapping, and other appropriate means, and to abate the conditions listed in Section 17920.3 that are causing the infestation.”

      Calm down, now you know and hey I respect it if you don’t want to kill them and hope you alleviate your problem same as the rest of us that came here. Please just bear in mind that your ethics aren’t the same as mine just like mine differs from the other 2 posters and just because you said ‘inhumane’ doesn’t inherently make your stance the moral high ground and serve as justification to tell others they are wrong.

      • Lol. Turn me in. Cute feelings tho

      • A very well put couldn’t have been said any better. Kudos to you!!

    • No it is not illegal. Stop lying

    • Where is it illegal? It certainly isn’t illegal in Texas. Why would you want to keep mice alive?

    • Leave me your address and I’ll bring them by and drop them off at your house so you can make them your pets.

      • Lol great suggestion

    • Yeah, Because the Mouse police is hiding in your Garage and will put you in Jail, where there is no mouse traps. Can you say Inhumane?

    • You a cop? Fuck the police

      • you a tard? yep, your a tard

    • Shut up karen

    • Illegal? Don’t think so. Are you a member of PETA?

  2. these ### are making life hell 24/7 and you’re worried about humane? they can die a slow miserable painful death as far as I am concerned.

    anyway? I can’t seem to find anywhere what a snaked catching a mouse sounds like in the ceiling or what the sound of air escaping a mouse sounds like. I heard something LOUD and what sounded like a mouse being caught by something in my ceiling not long after I heard what sounded almost like a cat low growl or meow so either the mice killed a stray cat or hopefully a snake is in there taking care of business

  3. You don’t have to be a savage about it by drowning them, just catch and release them in the woods or in your enemies house. It’s not their fault they are there in your house, it’s yours or your houses builders fault. And this is coming from someone who just found mouse droppings in my frying pan on the stove this morning…

    • release them so they can find there way right back into my house, nah, no thanks

    • To each their own, bucket traps are the most cost effective and prolific of all mouse traps, you can kill or catch live, don’t judge others on their choice its all natural, eradicate your space and say healthy!

  4. Haven’t tried this yet, but I accidentally had some sort of bucket trap setup on my patio. I’m not sure exactly what the setup was, but I found five dead mice in the bucket that had been sitting around for a while, so I have no doubt this will work well!

    • Yup. I have a large empty plastic plant pot under my water table to catch water that runs through in order to reuse. It just collects rain water, but I found 3 dead rats in it this morning (disgusting). So I didn’t need to do anything fancier than that. Also, I have a gallon size watering can I leave outside under the rain barrel. On more than one occasion there’s been a drowned mouse in there. I’m not doing it on purpose but if they’re going to go in there and drown . . .

  5. Disgusting! I totally get that they are pests but please kill then with one feed poison that kills then after one feed rather then drowning. Drowning is incredibly painful and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. just get a special bucket lid trap no need for water, they exist google the.

    • Don, do you realize that the poison used, makes the mouse bleed out? It is much more humane to drown them. No pain involved.

      • And I don’t want the neighborhood birds of prey eating poisoned food and dying themselves. Drown the mice!

    • Leaving poison around where my pets might get to is just plain stupid

    • Dom, do you realize that poison isn’t an instant death and that the rodents can then be eaten by other predators not knowing the rodent is poisoned? The predators such as owls, hawks, eagles, foxes and others are then poisoned and die. I will gladly drown mice/rats to protect the predators!

  6. Actually drowning is very peaceful… I know I have done it, it’s the reviving that is painful. So as long as you don’t do CPR or administer mouth to “mouse”, they will slip into never-neverland quite peacefully after a little bit of panic. Poison on the other hand gives them excruciating abdominal cramps before they die of internal bleeding. As far as not killing them at all, in nature they get killed all the time by preditors…… Us being one of them.
    Remember, they are “Pests” NOT “Pets”

    • Poison? No. Please. That poison goes up the food chain or into the environment or both. Anything that might eat a mouse (cat, dog, hawk, crow, chicken, turkey, you get the idea) will be sickened and possibly die from eating that poisoned mouse. Terrible idea! Spoken from experience – neighbors and farmers used poison on pests and we had birds dropping out of the sky dead on the property … barn cats sick … dying … horrible horrible. DO NOT poison pests! (Even bug pests shouldn’t be poisoned – they go up the food chain too – same thing) Find another way to kill them that isn’t poison. (And if that isn’t convincing, talk to some companies that clean duct work in houses, who have to locate the dead mouse that’s stinking up the entire building. Poison is just bad any way you look at it!)

      • I’m going to try the drowning ( at this time have been relocating in local forest, which is quite time consuming) But I am going to use cheap wine. Shouldn’t this make the drowning quicker and easier for the little blighters?

  7. Release them into the woods. I live in the city. Most of us live in apt bldgs & high rises. Who’s going to take an hour or more ride out of the city on public transportation, with live mice, to the woods?

    • I heard filling the bucket with half ice and half water kills them much quicker. The thought of anything struggling for a long time to survive kinda sucks, but ya…don’t really have a problem killing them either.

  8. I store a lot of bird seed and squirrel food in my garage and suspected the mice were helping themselves. I put 4 live traps out and caught 3 mice the first night. I put all 3 into a five gallon bucket in case they were a family and added a supply of food, in case they couldn’t find any right away in the woods that I released them into far from my house. My grandson even laughed at this.

  9. If you want humane, you can put in enough water to make jumping difficult but not drown them and add a little chunk of dry ice to asphyxiate them into a nice little forever sleep. Most problems can be solved with a little science.

  10. Add 3 inches of rum. The little pests will enjoy their demise. Then when you dump the bucket the other critters will probably have a bit of a buzz for a short while

    • Lol that’s the best one I have heard. Thanks for the laugh.

  11. I cannot wait to murder the mice invading my home.

  12. I like to set up a video camera and watch them drown. I just throw their bodies in the garbage can and take them out on garbage day. Right to the dump where they belong, dead.

  13. In the grand scheme of things, what happens to the mice is what happens to them, and it can mean nothing to one person and everything to another. In this discussion, it makes the most sense to go after the mice and leave the comments section alone. Everyone has a point of view—all are valid, or none are—and a communication style that may be less mature than the one you prefer. In the comments section of any page, points of view come to clash. Make the trap or don’t. Put water or don’t. But in the comments section… Don’t take the bait!

  14. I just set them outside for the owl that lives in our woods. He disposes of them pretty efficiently.

  15. $5,000 to repair vehicle wiring because of mouse damage, apparently they find the insulation in the wires tasty. The snakes aren’t eating the mice fast enough.

    I got no problem killing them.

  16. I hope none of you are killing spiders too because I really love them. They are actually called arachnids and are fun to study.

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