The Weird Patent for a "Better" Mousetrap

Google Patents
Google Patents / Google Patents

You know the saying: "Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door." But improving on the mousetrap is tough—just ask Joseph Barad and Edward Markoff. Their attempt, "Device Employed for Exterminating Rats, Mice and Other Animals," was patented in 1908, and "better" is not how we'd describe it. "Weird" and "ridiculous" might be more apt.

Here's how it works: Bait sits in the center of the device, and when the vermin inserts its head to get the food, a spring triggers the instantaneous release of a flexible band or collar with a bell on it. The "bell-rat" returns to its colony and "announces his coming by the sounds emitted by the bells, thereby frightening the other rats and causing them to flee, thus practically exterminating them in a sure and economical manner," the patent reads. "The spring-band or collar is not liable to ... slip from the rat's neck because the adjacent hairs soon become interwoven with the convolutions of the spring to more firmly hold it in place."

This mousetrap will work, its inventors claim, because "[it is] also known that the sound of a bell is very terrifying to animals of the species named and that if pursued by such sounds they will immediately vacate their haunts and homes, never to return."

An interesting concept—but we're not sure it would actually get rid of rodents. Though it would be festive to have bells jingling rather than vermin scratching in the walls, especially at certain times of the year.