Building a better mousetrap? Nice idea!
The pictures show historic and modern mousetraps from different countries and cultures. If one wants, one can understand this series as a photographic parable. It testifies to the human nature, the will to survive, ingenuity, improvisation talent, business sense, but also sheer need. It is about winners and losers. Tragedy and comedy are close together.
With no other creature, humans have evolved so much creativity to kill it: by slaying, strangulation, drowning, starvation, exhaustion, gas, impaling, sparing, high voltage, hypothermia, crush, and shooting for example. This list reads like instructions from the rodent hell.
The prototype of the classic snap trap had been patented by the American William C. Hooker in 1894. In 1899 the British James Henry Atkinson followed with a similar version, called the "Little Nipper". The design is extremely simple but extremely effective. In 38 thousandths of a second a metal bracket, tensioned by a strong spring metal clip, breaks the neck of the mouse. Record! Atkinson’s apparatus is still in production today and dominates 60 % of the mousetrap market. But maybe it gets even better.
The phrase "build a better mousetrap" became a synonym for the American entrepreneurial spirit par excellence. In fact, more patents have been registered for mousetraps as for any other type of device. According to the Smithsonian Institution in the U.S., there exists more than 4,400 patents. Unfortunately, only about 20 of these inventions have brought their creators some money.
Looking at the diversity of traps, the suspicion is growing that some inventors maybe took it personally. But we must face the truth: obviously not every mouse has enough motivation to imprison herself in an adventurous construction, or even get killed through it.