Museum curators were left dumbfounded after they discovered a freshly killed mouse inside a 155-year-old mousetrap encased behind impenetrable glass earlier this year. The puzzling scene occurred after a worker inquired about the rodent’s presence after finding it wasn‘t recorded in the museum‘s database.
Staff at the Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, discovered that despite the historic trap being unbaited, the mouse had somehow ferreted its way into it and suffered an agonizing death.
Intriguingly, the trap was among exhibits to be fully glassed in last year to protect it from the elements — and roaming rodents — puzzling museum experts as to how the mouse managed to get in.
The Colin Pullinger “Perpetual” trap was heralded at the time for its simplicity and effectiveness, after having its unique design registered in 1861. Popular Mechanics described how it works: “The traps are centered around a seesaw mechanism that allows them to catch multiple mice. When a mouse smells bait from outside the trap, it crawls into the entrance hole onto a beam. The only option is for the mouse to go to the left, which tilts the see-saw in the same direction, trapping it from returning to the entrance hole. The mouse then goes further down the trap — the only place to go — and passes through another one-way gate, trapping it at the edge of the box. Meanwhile, the see-saw at the center has rocked over, leaving the right side of the trap waiting for another unwary rodent.”
Pullinger had a factory that employed 40 men to pump out these traps, according to www.thenovium.org, and he saw a significant amount of success from the business for a time. As he grew elderly, the introduction of cheaper mousetraps replaced his two-sided box design.