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Museum's 155-year-old mouse trap catches a fresh rodent

Some inventions stand the test of time, like this still-functioning old mouse trap that wasn't ready to resign itself to history just yet.

Mouse trap
A look at the mouse trap when empty.
Museum of English Rural Life

The Museum of English Rural Life at the UK's University of Reading had a break-in recently. The culprit was later found dead inside one of the museum's exhibits. This sounds like the setup for a particularly weird episode of "The Twilight Zone," but it's a real event. The offender was actually an ill-fated mouse.

The judge, jury and executioner was a 155-year-old mouse trap stored in the museum's archives. The honestly named "Perpetual Mouse Trap" was made by British company Colin Pullinger & Sons and patented in 1861. It's described as a "multi-catch live mouse trap with a see-saw mechanism." The unfortunate mouse didn't seem to benefit from the supposed "live" aspect of the trap.

A quick word of caution for sensitive readers: a photo showing a partial view of the mouse as it was found is at the end of this article. It's not gory.

An assistant curator found the recently deceased mouse inside the trap and sent out an email to the museum staff saying, "There appears to be a dead mouse in this mousetrap which is not described as being there on the database." That's some historian humor for you.

The mouse's exact story remains unknown, but it seems to have squeezed into the trap and been unable to get out again. The staff said Wednesday it could possibly have snuck in during construction work as a part of the museum's redevelopment project.

The rodent's legacy will remain marked on the trap in the form of a nibbled label. The museum is still deciding what to do with the remains. Current options include a burial or desiccation for permanent display, at which point the mouse would become part of the museum's history.

Mouse in trap

This mouse may go on permanent display.

Museum of English Rural Life

(Via Atlas Obscura)