Sunday, 22 August 2010

build a better mouse trap

There is a saying "build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door"

Somehow I'm not so certain that this is true anymore. Probably its more likely that your poorly performing but better selling - higher profit margin competition will buy you up shelve the idea for the future and close you down.

Australia was once home to the "Supreme" rat and mouse traps.

After being away from home for some years (and the house occupied by people with a different view to me) I came home to find that I had a little bit of a rat and mouse problem.

Knowing how good these traps were I headed off to the shops to get one, to find that they aren't sold or made anymore.

DRAT - man these traps were the best by a long shot! They come in two sizes (mouse and rat) but each had a snap which would kill a mouse (or rat) sharply and quickly ... not like the modern poison technique which leaves them to die a horrible and slow death.

Well anyway some research has revealed that these great mouse traps were not the manufacture of some large company (as would probably be the case in some countries) but were made by one fellow in a small factory.

Arnold Wesley Standfield who has sadly has not only passed on but his business has closed and has picked up his product and run with it. His stuff of manufacture is now in "The Powerhouse Museum" in Sydney. It was designed and manufactured by
Standfield in 1942-43 and used continually at the Mascot factory until August 2000, producing about 96 million traps.

Arnold was born in Kyogle (see map below)

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and if you've ever been there, is in the midst of wonderfully beautiful country side lovely rain forest and is also prime cattle country. I'm sure he had a few mice and rats in his barns!

According to the document in the museum:
While there were other rodent trap manufacturers in Australia in the 1930s and 1940s, they did not last and by 1943 Standfield was the only manufacturer in the southern hemisphere. As well as marketing in Australia the firm exported to New Zealand, the US Army (especially during World War II), South America, several Pacific Islands and New Guinea.

Back to my rat problems ... we were finding droppings around the table and stove:

and some piss too ... which was annoying enough. Then one night he found my case of apples in the dining room....and had some

so after the chewings on the apples (as well as pooing and peeing in my kitchen benches) I thought "right"

Lucky for me a quick ferret around under my house turned up one. Old and a bit rusty, but one of them none the less.

So my wife put some talcum powder onto the floor to confirmif he was coming in via the garage ...

yep ... sure was

not that it mattered now as we knew where he was going (even if we weren't sure where he was coming from)

So we placed one of the traps on the kitchen bench with a little bit of Spanish Chirozo and went to bed

About 5:30am I was woken up by a "snap" from downstairs, and I know we had got our intruder. I was surprised just how large he was.

So while many will be horrified at what seems like a cruel thing I am certain that its far far less cruel than the slow death from the rat baits which we so commonly use now. Which more or less have seen there be no demand for a device like this in our modern western world. If he goes off and dies slowly somewhere its far less confronting than a quick kill.

If you've never seen a rat up close before, well here's why you don't want to get your hands near one.

That's a pretty strong set of fangs in there.


Alberto Rosso said...

Marvellous story.

Standfield clearly was some kind of genius but typically like some many Australian businesses was not able to take it further.

I mean he could have been supplying the traps to the world.

Douglas Coffman said...

Building a better mouse trap starts by using a better bait. Check it out- Dr. Coffman's Ultimate Mouse Bait (manufactured in the USA) that is non-toxic ready to use mouse and rat bait specifically created for use with snap traps. It is used in and around the house and safe around our children, pets and will not cause secondary poisoning of our wildlife. It is unique in that it is not a liquid or gel attractant but is a true (first of its kind) REAL bait that is both solid but flexible. It can not be licked off the trap! The consumer molds the bait around the bait holder of the trap; therefore, less chance of a triggered trap with no bait and no rodent. Created by our pharmacist utilizing 13 non toxic compounded ingredients. Heat resistant up to 225 degrees-it simply can not melt under normal use. Ships worldwide. Check our web site for more info:

Grass_Tree said...

Thank you for this well researched article. I still have a few of these old Supreme mouse traps, as well as the modern "Made in China" equivalents. The Supreme ones are by far the best. The modern ones rarely catch anything and I am forever replacing stolen baits. You have to bend and fiddle with the thicker parts in an attempt to make them more sensitive, often without success. The modern ones also have a habit of falling apart in no time. It is such a great pity that Mr Standfield did not sell the patent on his product to someone else, so that the tradition could be continued, rather than have his invention locked away forever in a museum. This leads me to ponder, was his mousetrap ever patented and if so, when will the patent expire?

Oh, and the best bait of all was good old-fashioned cheese, which, as it melts in the heat tends to get sticky and glues itself to the trap. I have also used peanut paste and cheese spread with good results, as these set hard after a few days. The beauty of the old Supreme mouse traps is they had just the right hook on the trip which held the cheese in such a way that the mouse could not get it off easily without setting off the trap. Still there was always that one clever mouse that could nibble away at the entire bait without ever getting caught.

Grass_Tree said...

I have just discovered that a person called Dean is still selling the Supreme mouse and rat traps on Gumtree. They are exact to the original design.