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

Edited by
Inga Cryton
Reading Time: 8 minutes.
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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 very simple to make. You probably have all of the tools and parts for it at your house right now as you read this, and construction would take only a matter of minutes.

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

The Effectiveness of 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, and 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 on working effectively for weeks and months on end.

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 kinds of limitations apply to any trap, and you can always experiment with bait, location, and other set-up variations till 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 dong 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 certainly 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, which is 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 next morning and dispose of the body.

Bucket mice trap in action

Trap Plans

There are almost endless different bucket mouse trap plans out there, almost all of them being made entirely out of 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 own weight. The other variety will entice the mouse to jump onto a can, which will then spin and throw it into the bucket.

Bucket mouse trap plan

And don’t be afraid to “get creative” and make some bucket mouse trap plans of your own. Take some measurements, and write out 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 kind of bucket and H2O to catch and kill mice. It’s not hard. 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 mice jump?
Why do you need water in the bottom of your bucket mouse trap OR a lid on top? 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 as to how to kill mice with a bucket of water, you simply bait your bucket trap with peanut butter, cream cheese, jelly, or anything else that attracts mice, and let it do its work.

Placement is key, 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. Don’t use a bucket so lightweight it 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 important variations to consider incorporating into your trap:

  • Use antifreeze instead of water in the pail. This 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 out 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 so as to catch more mice. This works no matter which kind of plank you use: stationary or seesaw version.
  • Use a square bucket so it won’t tip over easy and so you can mount it easier. This is often the kind of trap used in chicken coops, where mice are always stealing those expensive chicken feed pellets. And chickens eat mice – so you’ll be collecting food for your fowls in this case, at the same time!
  • 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 for it.

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 of water.

How to Make the Bucket Trap: 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 yourself so you know it’s done right!

The process is rather 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 in it. 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 the long, straight bottom section of a wire hanger.
  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 all around, evenly so it won’t be weighted to stay on a particular side.
  6. Take a yard stick, and cut off a six-inch piece. Super-glue the cut-off piece to the bucket’s edge. Then lay the remaining yard stick 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 really 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 they cost you next to 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 it’s magic!

You can find further details of Mice Control here.

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I have been working on pest extermination information for a long time and am excited to share this information with you. I also provide product recommendations for my favorite pest extermination products.
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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.

    • , “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.

    • No it is not illegal. Stop lying

  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…

  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.

  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”

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