How does a mousetrap mechanism work?

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In summary, a mousetrap works by using a spring-loaded bar that is released when a mouse tries to get the bait on the trigger mechanism. This causes the bar to swing and hit the mouse, killing it. The spring is released when the mouse puts pressure on the bait, causing the trigger mechanism to release and flip the bar. The mechanism can be better understood by seeing it in action or looking at images.
  • #1
BassMaster
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I know this may sound like a stupid question but I am the WORST when it comes to any of these mechanisms.

How does a mousetrap work? I tried searching this on the Internet but they just say that it is 'spring-loaded'. What does that mean? And most sites simply say that a mousetrap is a device for catching mice, while some others assume that on already knows what it is.

If someone can give me a reasonably detailed explanation of its mechanism, that would be helpful. Thanks!
 
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  • #3
I already read that and here's what I'm confused about:

"It is a simple device with a heavily springloaded bar and a trip to release it."

What is a heavily springloaded bar and a trip?
 
  • #4
Fair enough. The object of the basic mousetrap is to get the mouse/rat to stick its head in a position where it can get hit hard with something (like a metal bar which has been pulled back against a strong spring), and then the mouse sets off the release for the bar hold-back mechanism by trying to get a piece of food on the release mechanism.

The picture of the mouse at wiki in the first photo shows how the bar has swung from one end of the wood block to the other, and broken the mouse's neck by hitting it hard at the mouse's end.

It's similar to the "Figure-4" traps that we used to make back when I was a kid. In these kinds of traps, you need to store a lot of energy, and then have a hair-trigger release mechanism that let's that energy go (to close a bar hard on a mouse, or in the case of the Figure-4 trap, to release a heavy box cage that falls on the prey).
 
  • #5
berkeman said:
Fair enough. The object of the basic mousetrap is to get the mouse/rat to stick its head in a position where it can get hit hard with something (like a metal bar which has been pulled back against a strong spring), and then the mouse sets off the release for the bar hold-back mechanism by trying to get a piece of food on the release mechanism.

The picture of the mouse at wiki in the first photo shows how the bar has swung from one end of the wood block to the other, and broken the mouse's neck by hitting it hard at the mouse's end.

It's similar to the "Figure-4" traps that we used to make back when I was a kid. In these kinds of traps, you need to store a lot of energy, and then have a hair-trigger release mechanism that let's that energy go (to close a bar hard on a mouse, or in the case of the Figure-4 trap, to release a heavy box cage that falls on the prey).


Okay, I KNOW what a mousetrap is used for. I also know that the hammer slams down on the side of the bait and - most of the time - kills the mouse. What I'm still confused about, though, is the actual mechanism. How does stepping on the area of the bait cause the spring to release? And why, when the spring releases, does the hammer flip?
 
  • #6
BassMaster said:
Okay, I KNOW what a mousetrap is used for. I also know that the hammer slams down on the side of the bait and - most of the time - kills the mouse. What I'm still confused about, though, is the actual mechanism. How does stepping on the area of the bait cause the spring to release? And why, when the spring releases, does the hammer flip?

Have you ever seen one? They're only a few cents each at the hardware store, and seeing one work live in front of you will probably make it a lot easier to understand. Just use a stick or something to see how little pressure it takes to set it off.

Here's a nice picture from google images:

http://matcmadison.edu/ald/ILS/pix/mousetrap.jpg

In the loaded position like it shows, the copper bar that goes over the spring is fixed at the far end of the board, and free to slip out of the little hook thing on the cheese lever arm. As the mouse pushes down slightly on the cheese end of that arm, that raises the other end of the arm (or tilts it slightly or does something else...), which angles the little hook thing back just slightly and the low-friction release let's go. The copper bar flips back and to the left, and the "heavily spring loaded bar" flips from back to front.
 
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  • #7
BTW, there are some really humerous shots at google images if you google mousetrap. Like the little guy wearing a helmet as he sneaks up on the cheese, or the computer mouse caught in a trap... LOL.
 
  • #9
berkeman said:
Have you ever seen one? They're only a few cents each at the hardware store, and seeing one work live in front of you will probably make it a lot easier to understand. Just use a stick or something to see how little pressure it takes to set it off.

Here's a nice picture from google images:

http://matcmadison.edu/ald/ILS/pix/mousetrap.jpg

In the loaded position like it shows, the copper bar that goes over the spring is fixed at the far end of the board, and free to slip out of the little hook thing on the cheese lever arm. As the mouse pushes down slightly on the cheese end of that arm, that raises the other end of the arm (or tilts it slightly or does something else...), which angles the little hook thing back just slightly and the low-friction release let's go. The copper bar flips back and to the left, and the "heavily spring loaded bar" flips from back to front.

I think you' ve explained it the best you can, and although I can say that I'm starting to understand the mechanism... it would be a LOT better if I see it in action.

Thanks for your help. I'll buy one and see how it works.
 
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1. What is the basic principle behind how a mousetrap works?

The basic principle behind how a mousetrap works is the concept of potential energy and kinetic energy. The trap is set by pulling back the spring-loaded bar and securing it with a trigger. When a mouse steps on the trigger, it releases the bar, causing the potential energy stored in the spring to turn into kinetic energy, which snaps the bar down and kills the mouse.

2. How does the trigger mechanism of a mousetrap work?

The trigger mechanism of a mousetrap consists of a small bait platform and a thin metal bar called a "hammer". When a mouse steps on the bait platform, it releases the hammer, which is held in place by a catch. The hammer then snaps down and kills the mouse.

3. What materials are typically used to make a mousetrap?

The most common materials used to make a mousetrap are wood, metal, and plastic. The base and trigger are usually made of wood, while the spring and hammer are made of metal. Plastic is often used for the bait platform and other smaller parts.

4. How effective is a mousetrap in catching mice?

A mousetrap is an effective method for catching mice, as long as it is set up correctly and baited with an enticing food source. However, it may not be as effective for larger or smarter mice, and multiple traps may be needed to catch a larger infestation.

5. Can a mousetrap harm other animals besides mice?

Yes, a mousetrap can potentially harm other animals besides mice. Small pets, such as hamsters or gerbils, can accidentally get caught in the trap if it is not properly secured or if they are able to reach the bait. It is important to carefully set up and monitor mousetraps to avoid harming unintended animals.

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