Automated Humane Pest Control


[Tobie] seems to have a bit of a rat problem.

While most people would be inclined to simply buy the oversized Victor spring-loaded rat traps and call it a day, [Tobie] is a bit more humane. To help remedy his problem while also ensuring that no rats are harmed in the process, he built the Rat Trap 2000.

Self-described as completely over the top, the Rat Trap 2000 lures the rodents into its containment area with apples and corn, securing them inside using a servo-actuated trap door. The door is triggered by an Arduino that monitors the holding pen for movement using an IR sensor. All of the action is captured on video using the web cam on his Eee-PC, as you can see in the very short video below.

This certainly isn’t the most cost-efficient way to control your vermin problems, but if you’ve got some spare parts laying around, why not? It’s far more humane than some of the other rodent control solutions we have seen, and it sure beats living with rats!

36 thoughts on “Automated Humane Pest Control

  1. so the PVC triggered the mad scientist in me to think of a far less humane…though perhaps more entertaining rat trap…..

    An automated dispenser drops apple bits down a PVC tube….rat enters tube….upon nearing the inside end of the tube the rat breaks a photodiode/laser “tripline”..Triggering a solenoid actuated dump valve….

    SPUDGunning the vermin into a brick wall.

    a small compressor recharges the chamber….and the apple dispenser sets it up for the next RocketRat :)

    1. Love the image of the flying rodent. I would nix the brick wall and go with launching out a window. Ideally toward the waiting owl or hawk. Would be cool to see a hawk snatch a rat in mid flight. The catch and release program of the “humane trap”, you just end up catching the same rat over and over. Launch them far enough from the house the chance of return should be low.

    2. Just though of a rather hilariously sadistic variant of that.

      The tube is elevated as to keep pets away from the business end and tilted back to add some elevation to the “projectile.”
      It is aimed at a fence or brick structure, that which has a target painted on it.

      Below the target is a trash can with an actuated lid.

      Rat discovers scent of bait and ventures down the tube, trips IR sensor, trash can lid quietly opens, launch projectile, splat, drop, lid quietly closes.
      Additional bait is dispensed into tube and system resets.

    1. I agree – what’s to be done? Take them out to “the country”? Make ‘pets’ of ’em?
      That drowning barrel thing pushes too far past indifference, gruesome that.
      Maybe they could fall through to a sensor-enabled electrocution or other means of quick dispatch?

      [Ah, “Snypercat”]

  2. Unless you are donating the rats to research, I think the Victor spring loaded rat traps are a rat’s best friend.

    Once you get bitten, I think you will be convinced not to trap them humanely anymore. I’ve also read articles available on the internet where dog owners had to declare bankruptcy because their dogs bit other people and the owner’s couldn’t afford to pay but rats are a menace that you are now allowing yourself to be legally liable for.

    They’re a danger to animals, children and society.

    Nice project but rats aren’t human so they don’t deserve HUMANe treatment.

    1. There are two important features of the spring-loaded rodent traps:
      1) They actually catch rodents.
      2) They kill the rodent instantly.

      My cats brought in several rats, to “play with.” The rats escaped and promptly set up house in the couch. Of course, I took the couch outside — the rats stayed in the couch, and I had to take it back in the garage, to avoid the rains. Then they got from the garage into the house again, and started living under the cabinets.

      I tried every single kind of trap available at the hardware store. The rats disabled many kinds and ate the bait, and ignored the others. Finally, I called an exterminator, who set out the classic Victor spring traps. Problem solved in days.

      Yes, it is unpleasant — when they go off, it sounds rather like a gunshot. Yes, I pray for the rats to get a better rebirth next time.

      Yes, I went to a lot of effort to seal up all the rat holes with spray expansion foam, once the rats were gone.

  3. Unless rat physiology is substantially different than human, nitrogen might actually be a very useful human-kill agent:

    In humans, at least, the sensation of suffocation isn’t actually caused by lack of oxygen. It is caused by carbon dioxide buildup and/or the sensation of mechanical blockage of breathing(water in the lungs, choking on something, etc.) Because of that, if you stumble into an inert gas atmosphere(nitrogen, helium, argon, halon suppressor just went off, etc.) you can still expel carbon dioxide normally, so levels of that will remain low, and you will still be mechanically unimpeded in breathing; you just won’t be getting oxygen. You go from ‘fine’ to ‘lethal hypoxia’ in seconds to minutes, often losing consciousness before you notice anything is wrong.

    Again(assuming rats aren’t markedly different in this regard) any scheme that puts the rat(s) in a nitrogen atmosphere for a few minutes should be abundantly lethal and basically painless. Even better, unlike toxic fumigation gasses, nitrogen is totally harmless once diluted with enough air to bring the oxygen content back up a bit(unlike, say, carbon monoxide, which can asphyxiate you at pretty low levels, or any of the toxic fumigation gasses, which are deliberately poisonous.

    A nitrogen-based humane kill scheme could involve nonlethal trapping, followed by flushing the catch enclosure with nitrogen for a few minutes, or(in fairly ill-ventilated environments where there aren’t any desired air-breathers, flushing the rat-infested area(a basement, for instance, with doors and windows shut and any central heating/cooling ducts closed).

    Conveniently, reasonably pure nitrogen is fairly cheap, sold as a welding shield gas or in liquid form…

    1. i heard from a snake owner if you feed plain carbonated water to mice they just pass out temporary/permanently . if it also works on rats it would make for an easy way to catch them . just find a active path , place water for them a few weeks along their path and then switch it out with carbonated water and start collecting rats.

    2. I think you meant “humane-kill” instead of “human-kill” in your first sentence. :^)

      Actually, I used to work in animal research, and one of the standard ways to euthanize rodents is with CO2. We would leave them in their cage (to reduce stress on them) and swap out the wire lid with a plastic lid with foam padding and a nozzle attached to a tank of 100% CO2. The gas would slowly replace the air in the cage over a few minutes, and once it hit ~50% CO2, the animals would pass out (it acts as an anesthetic). They would expire shortly after that, and we’d make sure to leave the gas on for an extra minute or two just in case.

      I don’t know if CO2 is better than nitrogen, but I would guess that it’s more widely used. I can imagine that paintball cartridges might be a convenient reloadable source for a small trap such as this. Dry ice is probably easier to get but probably harder to work with in this case.

  4. Around here I have the nice D-Con mouse traps. They’re all black and the trap itself is shrouded in plastic.

    Nice little bait cup, and all you see when it’s caught a mouse is the lever in the vertical position and a small, narrow tail sticking out. Then just hold open end over trash bin, pull lever down and mouse drops out.

    I also keep a cat in the house too. Living in the city you engage all the vermin control you can.

  5. I’m not a fan of ‘humane’ pest treatment. Sure, you don’t have the blood of some “innocent” animal on your hands. However, wherever you dump the critter, someone ELSE has to deal with them. You feel better about yourself and give another person the problem to deal with. It’s not really humane…your just being a selfish ass.

  6. A good cat will do the job best (but it has to be a good one). And in the case of mice they offer a full disposal service, not so much with rats though. I gather they don’t taste so good.

    But building a cat with an Arduino or similar is too hard yet. Fortunately they build themselves…

  7. Bait laced with aspirin (yes, aspirin) works, apparently its deadly to rodents.

    Another trick is to build a trap with a Peltier module connected to the copper catch tube. When activated the mouse or rat turns into an icicle in minutes, which is a relatively humane kill method and reduces the mess.

    1. If you’re trying to kill them in runs just back a car up to the run, connect a hose pipe from the exhaust to the run and leave the engine running for as long as possible. This will kill them for miles around.

  8. Umm, how is the air rifle (combined with the very accurate scope) not humane? Better than the fear induced by trapping/confining, and then having to ‘deal with’ a live rat that knows what is coming.

  9. They always return. I eradicated two nests this spring and have not seen anything trying to establish or re-establish in my shed. If you do not kill rats or mice they almost always return, they are insidious. Kicking rodents out (moving them, etc) has never worked in my experience, they just find their way back no matter what. Rat traps are very powerful they kill things dead times ten, also cheap.

  10. Thsi will probably date me as the “old guy”, but does anyone remember a book called soemthing like “How to build a better mousetrap?” that probably was available sometime ion the mid-1980’s? It had some projects for interfacing various things with the Apple II, primarily via the gameport. The book culminated in a project for a “better mousetrap” that, if I remember correctly, was not dissimiliar to this. I learned how to use the Apple II gameport as an A/D interface from this book and, eventually, used it in an attempt to build my own robot. I was only about 12-13 at the time so I didn’t get too far past the experimenting stage.

    Thanks for a trip down memory lane…

    1. Actually, here is a link to some information about the book. I think the book was a simple spiral bound deal and I remember the “sample disk” with a bunch of BASIC programs in it. I had to type out the samples I wanted to use from code listings in the text because my first Apple II didn’t have a floppy drive.

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