A mousetrap is a specialised type of animal trap designed primarily to catch mice; however, it may also (intentionally or unintentionally) trap other small animals. Mousetraps are usually set in an indoor location where there is a suspected infestation of rodents. Larger traps are designed to catch other species of animals; such as rats, squirrels, other small rodents, or other animals.
The trap that is credited as the first patented lethal mousetrap was a set of spring-loaded, cast-iron jaws dubbed "Royal No. 1". It was patented on 4 November 1879 by James M. Keep of New York, US patent 221,320. From the patent description, it is clear that this is not the first mousetrap of this type, but the patent is for this simplified, easy to manufacture, design. It is the industrial age development of the deadfall trap, but relying on the force of a wound spring rather than gravity.
The jaws of this type are operated by a coiled spring and the triggering mechanism is between the jaws, where the bait is held. The trip snaps the jaws shut, killing the rodent.
Lightweight traps of this style are now constructed from plastic. These traps do not have a powerful snap like other types. They are safer for the fingers of the person setting them than other lethal traps, and can be set with the press on a tab by a single finger or even by foot.
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