The Better Mousetrap
The old saying goes “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”. I think trying to create a better mousetrap is a great example of creativity being applied to solve a problem. Thousands of creative people have their own take on what it takes to catch the furry little pests. The US Patent Office has an estimated 4,400 different mousetrap patents on file (even though only about 20 of those designs have made any money). Along with all those people who are trying to make money by inventing mousetraps, I found a guy who is making money by creating videos that put mousetraps to the test.
Shawn Woods has over a million YouTube subscribers (I’m one of them) who watch weekly videos of Shawn testing mousetraps, repellents, and other rodent abatement devices on his website at MousetrapMonday.com.
Shawn started out doing primitive hunting and trapping videos, but about three years ago he started posting a new mousetrap videos on Mondays and has been doing it every since. Sometimes the traps are the exact same kind of traps you can buy at your local hardware store, but Shawn also collects antique mousetraps and will frequently buy traps that are over 100 years old on eBay and then film a video to test them out. With the advent of at home 3D printing, many of Shawn’s fans have started sending him their creative homemade traps to put through their paces.
Shawn’s channel isn’t for everyone.
He’s testing traps on live animals using his rural property and barn as a sort of laboratory. Some of his traps are “live catch”, but many of them prove fatal to the pests infiltrating his home and property. Shawn follows YouTube’s guidelines about what he is allow (and not allowed) to post, but animals are definitely harmed in the filming of (many) videos. His YouTube videos either edit out, block, or blur any moments of injury caused to an animal caught by one of his traps, but Shawn does make the unedited versions available on his website (with proper disclaimers and warnings to viewers).
As a homeowner who has had to deal with a mouse problem (it was my own research on how to deal with the problem that led me to Shawn’s videos) I am not offended by his killing of mice and rats and moles, but more sensitive viewers may choose not to view his raw footage videos, or even the toned-down YouTube versions. Mousetrap Monday content may not be for you (and that’s okay). For over a million other people, it’s exactly the content they were looking for.
I am impressed with Shawn’s knowledge of the critters he catches. He will frequently identify a breed of mouse as a local indigenous species and film the release of the animal back into the wild (far from his home!) and will sometimes keep a mouse or two as a pet so he can demonstrate some of the live capture traps. Other times he will identify the wee beast as an invasive species and tell the audience he plans to humanely dispatch it — and then he sets the (now deceased) mouse out for the local wildlife to use as a food source. He films the event on a night vision/motion triggered camera, and shares the videos of foxes, skunks, hawks, and other animals out scavenging for meals.
Shawn’s knowledge of the antique traps is extensive.
As a creative person with an interest in marketing, I always enjoy the episodes where he was able to get a piece of the original advertising or packaging. Although Shawn does test many of the actual antique traps he collects, many times a trap is too valuable or fragile to use in a mouse-catching video, so he will use the original as a pattern to create his own version of the device for testing.
In case you’re curious, I’ve embedded one of Shawn’s recent videos below for you to view.
This video safe for virtually all audiences. The featured trap is a gentle live catch style and (spoiler alert!) Shawn releases the live mouse back into the wild at the end of the video.
Mousetrap Monday is proof that there is an audience out there for whatever kind of content you have a passion to produce.
If you’ve ever stopped yourself from creating something new because you convinced yourself that no one else would be interested, perhaps you should reconsider based on Shawn’s success story.