The stars of the National Hardware Show, which closed Wednesday in Chicago and drew 70,000 people over four days, were six white mice.
The mice, which worked in alternating shifts, crawled in and out of the Mice Cube, a smoke-gray plastic box that traps a mouse without hurting it and can be opened to let the mouse scamper free.
Attracted by the odor of peanut butter, peanuts, jelly, pizza or cheese that can be put into the trap, a mouse pushes open the door, which has seven air holes, and the door shuts behind it.
"Any of those baits work because they have nice strong odors," said Thomas Eifler, who, with his partner Irwin Blau, owns Pied Piper International of Salem, N.H., the manufacturer of the Mice Cube. The device sells for $1.99.
More than 3,000 companies exhibited their wares, which focused on the home, the lawn and pets.
The All-Season Pet Bowl is designed for the pet that lives outdoors. The plastic bowl comes with a removable metal-encased electrical cord that is attached to the base of the bowl and that powers a heating mechanism. When the temperature of the water in the bowl reaches 60 degrees, the heating element turns off; it restarts when the temperature drops to 40 degrees. The bowl, at $22.98, is made by Allied Precision Industries Inc. in Geneva, Ill.
Besides designing products for small, furry creatures, manufacturers these days are making lightweight, small-handled tools that many women may find easy to use.
"A normal drill weighs around six pounds," said Bob Cassel, a sales manager at Makita Power Tools in La Mirada, Calif. The company makes a 3/8 -inch cordless drill that weighs 1.8 pounds and sells for $39 to $52.