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tracking a rodent

Discussion in 'Misc Electronics' started by Allan Adler, Nov 3, 2004.

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  1. Allan Adler

    Allan Adler Guest

    I saw a mouse in my apartment and decided I would rather study it than
    kill it, at least for now.

    What I'd like to do first is to install some kind of beam at mouse level
    in the entrance to the kitchen, such that when the mouse crosses the beam
    it causes some kind of electronic event, such as a signal that causes a
    photograph to be taken or the time to be recorded or a robot activated
    to chase the mouse.

    At the moment, I'd be happy just to record the time.

    I went to Radio Shack and asked them what they use to make the ding-dong
    sound when someone walks into the store and they directed me to a certain
    device costing about $30 and which is normally supposed to fit on the door
    at human level. It could, of course, be lain flat on the floor in the
    kitchen entrance, with its matching part at the other side of the doorway,
    but the device is actually large enough for the mouse to walk on when it
    goes into the kitchen, so that it never trips the beam. Besides, $30 seems
    tway oo expensive. I was looking for something pretty cheap.

    What should I use, what should I expect to pay for it and where can I get it?

    After I figure out how to record the time, I'd be interested in finding a
    way to weigh the mouse automatically without capturing it. Presumably,
    some kind of transducer is required, but again I don't know what exactly
    to use or what it costs or where to get it.
  2. Jerry G.

    Jerry G. Guest

    If you want to track something like that, you will have to spend some bucks.
    The methods and devices used are very expensive.

    On the other hand, it is not a healthy thing to have a rodent in your home.
    He will certainly do some damage. They will chew in to things, and leave
    facieses all over the place. The waste from these rodents can carry disease,
    and pose a serious health hazard.

    I realize that they look very cute. One thing for sure, is that if it feels
    threatened or cornered by you, it can come out very quickly and start
    biting, to defend itself. You may one day corner it without even realizing

    If your local health department found out about this, I am sure that they
    would not be too pleased about it. Also, your neighbours would not be
    appreciative of this either. These rodents can also be dangerous for
    children and other small pets. Naturally, this excludes pets, such as, cats,
    large lizards, foxes, racoons, skunks, and snakes.

    I would suggest to get rid of it. If you don't want to kill it, I would
    agree with that. It's life is supposed to be outside in a field or a forest,
    and not in our homes. I would then suggest to find a way to trap it alive,
    and release it somewhere in the wild. When I was young I knew an older
    fellow that was doing that with wild animals, including rodents. This was
    interesting, and also costly for him. He had to buy all the proper equipment
    to do this type of trapping.

    When I first read your question, the first thing that came to my mind was to
    suggest to you to buy a cat! Or, to get at least a big lizard.

    I am sure that there are a lot of people here who would agree with my view
    about a wild rodent in a home.
  3. CWatters

    CWatters Guest

    First step would be to get yourself a webcam. Many of these cameras come
    with motion triggered recording S/W!
  4. Gerard Bok

    Gerard Bok Guest

    Do you have some camera to connect to your PC ?
    There is a lot of software around that will start a recording as
    soon as something changes in the frame.

    It will not only record the time, but also the Mickey's picture
  5. corlioni1976

    corlioni1976 Guest

    Hello Gerard

    Please can you provide a link for the software as I have a similar problem
    with vermin(vandals) near my home and would like to catch them in the act.
    Can't afford to get a security camera at the moment, so want to use my


  6. Gerard Bok

    Gerard Bok Guest

    Well, actually I 'bought' a commercial product (at the quivalent
    of 4 US$ :). But there is freeware around:
    920518 bytes Puts webcam pictures on the WWW. Free

    Pryme is a webcam program that among other things can can capture
    pictures form your webcam, and upload them to your website using

    - Captures images from your webcam, and uploads them to your
    homepage via FTP.
    - Captures at regular intervals.
    - Captures via motion-detection function.
    - Keeps 10 most recent pictures available on your homepage.
    - Adds captions to the captured pictures with weekday, time and
    - Minimizes to the taskbar and works in the background.
    - Starts automatically with windows.
    - Logs messages to a text file.
    - Changes between setup profiles, allowing you to quickly change
    between different setups.
    - Browser to view the taken photographs, movies and the logfile.

    Special requirements: None.

    Freeware. Uploaded by the author.

    Simon Hiort-Lorenzen
  7. Allan Adler

    Allan Adler Guest

    I agree with a lot of what Jerry says and would be glad to be rid of the
    rodents. However, I think I can do a better job of it if I know more about
    how they are getting into the apartment and what it is actually doing there.
    I would also like to emphasize that these are mice, not rats. I'm not thinking
    of keeping it as a pet in either case.


    When I first observed a mouse a few months ago, and killed it by
    a method that occurred to me on the spur of the moment, I received
    some glue traps and no other guidance from the building management.
    I did some searching and learned that glue traps are considered a
    particularly cruel way to kill mice, and read a web page that, like
    Jerry, advised capturing the mouse and letting it go outside, on the
    theory that it would not be able to find its way back to the building
    and that it would be happier outside. Then I found another website that
    acknowledged all the above, but pointed out that there are some mice that
    really can't survive outdoors in the winter and that they look exactly the
    same to the untrained eye as the mice that can survive outdoors. For the
    indoor mice, they thought that glue traps were a better idea than putting
    the mice outdoors, and that since one can't tell the difference without
    really knowing something about mice, one should use the glue traps, period.

    I'm also aware of some kind of poison one can put out that will induce
    the mice to go somewhere outside the apartment to die. I'm considering
    that also.

    The best solution, it seems to me, is to find out how they are getting
    into the apartment and then prevent them from doing it. That way, I don't
    have to clean rotting mouse corpses out of the kitchen and disinfect the
    area before eating breakfast.

    There are already plenty of mice living in the walls. The management is
    unconcerned about this and I have no rights in the matter. It is just that
    once the mice get into my apartment, I have to deal with it. There are so
    many mice in the walls that for a long time I thought my upstairs neighbors
    had a dog that was always running around, until I finally met them and asked
    them. What they do have is a bird, and that apparently tends to attract a lot
    of mice, since the mice are smart enough to know that where there are pet
    birds, there is a lot of birdseed on the floor.
  8. Allan Adler

    Allan Adler Guest

    I don't have a digital camera of any kind and I don't know anything about
    them. Also, I'm running RedHat Linux on my PC. I went to
    and I see a lot of software for talking to webcams but they seem to assume
    something about the chipsets of the webcams, which presupposes that I know
    something about webcams, which I don't. Also, I don't know what the cameras
    supported by the software costs.

    Perhaps someone who knows something about the cameras can look at the
    relevant webpage at sourceforge.

    At any rate, a simple beam should be adequate just to get started and that
    wouldn't require me to get bogged down with the interfacing problems with
    Linux that I usually find so intractable. Moreover, I think it is probably
    cheaper just to set up a beam. As I mentioned in my original posting,
    I can get one from Radio Shack for about $30, even if the solution it offers
    is flawed. So I don't want a solution that winds up costing more than that.
  9. Allan Adler

    Allan Adler Guest

    I finally remembered that there is some kind of pair of IR LED's, one that
    emits and one that detects. They probably just cost a few dollars, even
    from Radio Shack. I've never used them. For one thing, can I set them
    a few feet from each other? Are they hard to align? Since the answer
    is probably yes, are there simple tools to make it easier?
  10. Gerard Bok

    Gerard Bok Guest

    Yes. But you will probably spent much more than $30 before they
    do anything close to what you want them to :)
    Yes. But if you expect them to see each other, you will need a
    highly sophisticated pulsing system, an enclosure and IR-lenses.
    Indeed. As IR is very hard to 'see' it is not easy to setup an
    optical system for IR. *)
    And yes, it can be done simpler: buy them ready made :)

    *) Hint: things get a lot easier if you use a common digital
    camera. They tend to make IR-leds visible.
  11. Terry

    Terry Guest

    Talking about taking pictures of a mouse or anything else makes one think of
    that now old fashioned expression for photography, "Taking a snap".
    Obviously based on the 'click' that a cameras make (or used to make!).
    These days 'click' has an entirely different meaning pertaining to an
    entirely different sort of mouse!
    However having disposed of three such 'varmints' as the colder fall weather
    occurred, the only 'snap' I want to hear is a good old fashioned spring
    trap. I've still got six such traps out and baited but thankfully no more
    PS. There is always the possibility of feeding the cat some cheese and have
    it sit near the mouse hole with 'baited' breath!
  12. Allan Adler

    Allan Adler Guest

    I've used the spring traps in the past and found that they have a tendency
    to go off in my hand, sometimes causing injury. If I were to design a better
    mouse trap, one innovation would be to make it possible to set the trap
    by turning a knob instead of having to put one's fingers where the rat is
    supposed to be.
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