Wild mouse maze experiments

I have seen many editorial cartoons involving rat mazes, which gave me the idea of making some sort of mouse maze, and using a trap to inject the mice unattended.

I figured my tipping ramp trap would be the perfect way of getting the mice in, and my imgcomp running on a Raspberry pi board with camera was a good way to capture the action.

I started by building a mouse maze using some particle board with a white coating as a backer so it would show up better on camera. The wall pieces are butt joined and nailed and glued together and attached with a few screws from the bottom.

I added two extra "false exits" with a screen on them, just to make it more interesting.

I had to sacrificed a five gallon bucket for the cause, drilling a big hole in the bottom so the mouse, caught in the bucket, could exit into the maze.

I added a glass cover for the maze to ensure the mouse doesn't just jump over the walls. I was going to cut the glass to size, but after scoring it, it just wouldn't break. I suspect it's tempered glass, and any break would result in the whole piece breaking into a thousand pieces. So I just left it the size it was.

I put a layer of wood shavings in the bottom of the bucket. It's harder for the mouse to jump high off a soft surface, and I figured this would prevent the mouse from jumping out of the bucket.

I also put a few dabs of peanut butter into the maze, especially inside this small space which is only accessible through some small holes in the walls.

Then setting it up in a shed that gets lots of mice. I set up two Raspberry Pi computers with camera modules on them, one for an overview, another just focused on the maze.

For the first week, I didn't see any mice in the maze, but I did see some very eerie large fuzzy shadows moving across the field of view. These were from Insects, like the beetle at left, crawling over the camera lens.

The next week I finally had the mouse go on the trap, get dumped, and take a good long time finding its way out of the maze.

But when the mouse came back to the trap, the ramp started to tip as soon as the mouse went on it, so the mouse never went far enough to get dumped.

When I checked the trap, I realized the piece of wood I leaned against the trap as a ladder for the mouse to get up, had blocked the ramp from tipping all the way level again. Without it getting back to level, the magnet wouldn't engage, so the ramp tipped too easily.

But the mouse also entered the maze by the exit a few times. I wasn't sure if it would trust the trap again, so I put more peanut butter into the maze itself to get it to explore the maze some more.

The mouse traversed the maze quite a bit to consume all the peanut butter, but it wasn't all that interesting.

I then had the idea of putting some sunflower heads with seeds on them in the maze. What was interesting about these is that the mouse would come and munch on the sunflowers, then leave, come back a minute later, and repeat. I suspect the minute of absence between munching on the sunflower heads was the mouse going away to stash the seeds somewhere.

I put one piece of sunflower head in the small cubby hole, accessible only though some drilled holes. The mouse saved that one for last, but it got all the seeds off this one too.

I also smeared some peanut butter below the bucket's rim to see what the mouse would do about that.

It was amazing to see the mouse hang off it's feet, then later hang off just one foot to eat the peanut butter. The mouse was able to recover from this position without falling into the bucket, though not every time. It's amazingly good at avoiding falling, which makes the tipping ramp trap kind of impressive in it's ability to make the mouse fall in the bucket early and often, provided that it's not jammed up and the magnet force is set appropriately for the weight of the mouse.

This video took late October and all of November 2016 to film, and then unusually long to edit as well. It was also very much in need of a sound track. I asked my brother in law, Anthony Savidge, and he suggested this song "Log cabin blues", which he performed. Anthony's webpage: http://www.anthonysavidge.com

My imgcomp program (motion triggered time-lapses)

To my Woodworking website.