Mouse Caught in 155-Year-Old Museum Mousetrap

The old mousetrap, with its unfortunate prisoner trapped inside. By Rudmer Zwerver/Shutterstock

An antique mousetrap displayed at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) has proven that it may be old, but it's not obsolete. The 155-year-old contraption was recently found with an unfortunate mouse trapped inside, according to a MERL blog post.

The trap, first patented in 1861, has rusted, warped metal bars and a faded label that reads "Perpetual Mouse Trap," aptly adding that it "will last a lifetime." Apparently it's capable of lasting even longer than that.

Curiously, the trap caught the mouse despite not being baited, a testament to its snug design, which mice apparently find enticing. Either that, or this was just an incredibly unlucky mouse that wandered into the wrong hole.

It works via a seesaw mechanism that uses a pest's own weight to tip the seesaw over, sealing the unwitting victim inside. It's a simple apparatus, but timelessly effective. Though the trap doesn't have any mechanism to kill its victim, this mouse was unfortunately discovered dead.

The museum doesn't usually rely on its vintage objects as part of its pest control plan. Like with any museum, pests such as moths, beetles and of course rodents, are attracted to the organic materials held in store, not to mention the craggy hiding spots. A comprehensive pest control system is in place at MERL to help reduce the problem, which makes this little critter's fate all the more ironic. Somehow it managed to sneak past all the modern traps only to be snared by the antique.

“We have traps set for pests, but we can never catch everything all of the time,” it was written in the blog post. The pest problem may also be heightened right now due to construction work from a recent redevelopment project at the museum.

The blog entry continued: "For the moment... the mouse remains in the trap while we decide what to do with it. One option is a dignified burial, another is to desiccate it or have it prepared to remain as a permanent feature of the mouse trap for our new displays. We’ll let you know what we decide."