Household vermin have been problems for centuries, especially for city dwellers.
For a long time the main defense was provided by dogs and cats. By the 18th century, rat traps using a spring-loaded jaw and a baited trigger were in use, often set out by a professional exterminator. Rats seem to have been regarded as the most serious household menace.
As early as 1838 a U.S. Parent was issued to T. Kelly of Alexandria, Virginia, for an improved rat trap.
It was not until 1869 that the first U.S. Patent was issued for a mouse trap, to A.G. David of Watertown Conneticut.
Victor Chocker Mousetrap
Animal Trap Co. Lititz Pa
Made in U.S.A.
In 1901 this type of mousetrap could be purchased from The T. Eaton Co. Limited in Toronto, Canada or ordered from their catalogue for 6 cents each.
Photo from author’s collection
Most traps were based on the principal of spring loaded jaws. Some people, however, objected to removing the carcass from the trap; it might be bloody or putrescent, or bearing lice.
So live traps were devised, in which the animal was lured by means of bait, and the entrance closed by the release of a trigger. The captured animal could then be drowned by submerging the trap in a pail of water.