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Mouse Traps That Work: How to Trap a Mouse

Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, kitchen, garden, and out fishing. Many of his DIY projects are featured in his yard.

The early bird catches the worm, but it's the second mouse who gets the cheese!

An effective and well-used Snap Mouse Trap

An effective and well-used Snap Mouse Trap

Finding a Better Mouse Trap

What type of mouse trap do you need?

Mice invade homes everywhere, carrying disease and damaging property in their search for food and shelter. A mouse can fit through the tiniest of openings to gain entrance into your house, making it difficult to keep the little rodents from entering your home. They chew through wood and plastic, gnawing holes in baseboards and cabinets in their quest for food. Mice will chew through the plastic insulation surrounding electrical wiring, creating unseen fire and safety hazards hidden inside the walls of your home.

Even if your house is very clean, your home can still attract mice. Our homes are warm and dry, providing mice with food and shelter and protection from predators. Cats may catch a few and keep their numbers in check, but our pet cats and dogs cannot completely stop mice from coming inside to seek refuge in the walls and behind the cabinets.

House Mouse

House Mouse

Mice are nocturnal and active mostly at night and though they are seldom seen during the day, their presence is often discovered by the droppings and damage they leave behind. Mice are also prolific breeders; where there is one or two mice, there are often many more.

Once a mouse and its friends moves into your home, the only cure is an aggressive trapping and removal system. There are several different methods for dealing with an invasion of mice, from deterrents and live traps for relocating the captured intruders elsewhere to poisoned baits and guillotine-like snap traps that send mice to their ever-after.

With several different removal methods and a wide variety of mouse traps available, the mouse removal method is a matter of your personal preference. Here are a few tips on choosing a mouse trap.

How To Trap A Mouse

Compare the Different Methods for Trapping Mice

The Snap Trap:

The traditional wooden mouse snap trap is a very effective tool for trapping a mouse. While obviously lethal, mouse snap traps are inexpensive and arguably as humane for controlling mice as the other lethal methods such as using poisonous baits or glue traps.

The basic snap trap consists of a bar, a spring and a trip plate. The bar is held under tension by the spring, and held in the firing position by a wire wedged under the trip plate. The trip plate is baited to attract the interest of a passing mouse and when a curious rodent tries to steal the bait, the trip plate is triggered and the bar is unleashed with lethal results.

Most of the newer style snap traps use plastic trip plates with perforations. Press a little peanut butter into these holes and perforations. The peanut butter will mold into around the holes, making it difficult for a mouse to remove all of the peanut butter before it triggers the trip plate. Often, the snap trap can be reused several times before more peanut butter bait is needed.

Position the baited snap trap against a wall in areas with signs of mouse activity. Mice tend to travel along the edges of walls and cabinets, with their whiskers brushing against the edge. Place the snap trap perpendicular to the wall, with the trip plate closest to baseboard. Place a small piece of cardboard under the trap to help keep the floor or carpet clean (the inverted lid of a shoe box works great. After a few uses, throw the shoe box lid away).

If there are small children and pets in the house, cover the trap with a small box. Cut entrance holes on either side of the box to allow the mouse to enter.

Check the mouse snap traps every morning, and always wear latex gloves when handling the mouse snap traps: mice carry parasites and pathogens such as fleas and ticks, so dispose the remains quickly and properly. Disinfect the area with a household cleaner.

If a snap trap fails to catch a mouse within a few days, move the trap to another location. Setting out multiple snap traps in different areas increases the chances for catching mice.

How To Set A Snap Trap (no mice were harmed during this demonstration)

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Live Traps:

As the name implies, Live Traps lure mice into a capture device that holds them securely, safe and unharmed until the little intruder is released outdoors. Some live trap models are designed to catch a single mouse, while others can capture several mice in a single night.

Position the live trap in areas with signs of mouse activity. Bait the trap with peanut butter, and position the entrance of the trap along the edge of the wall or cabinet where mice are traveling. Check the trap daily, and add more bait as needed. If several days pass without catching a mouse, try moving the live trap to another location.

Relocate the captured mouse to a field or woodland as far from your house a possible. Simply releasing the mouse outside your backdoor may allow the clever little critter to find its way right back inside your home.

Glue Traps and Glue Boards:

Made with a sticky substance, glue traps are designed to capture a mouse as it tries to cross the bait placed in its pathway, much like an insect is trapped by flypaper. While effective, the glue boards seem the least humane of all of the mouse trapping and removal methods: the captured mouse struggles in the sticky stuff, suffering until dehydration or starvation claims its victim.

Consider using other methods for controlling mice.

Poison Baits and Rodenticides:

For severe infestations or for placing baits in hard to reach locations such as up in the attic or in the crawlspace under the house, using poison control methods are an alternative to trapping mice and disposing of the remains. The bait stations are placed in areas where mouse activity is detected, and left for the mice to consume at their leisure. Check the bait often for signs of feeding activity and after the bait is depleted, simply refill with fresh bait.

There are two types of rodenticides: pellets and blocks. The pellets are small and light, making it easy for the mouse to carry back to the nest or other area for consumption. The blocks are larger and designed for the mouse to nibble at the bait station. After feeding, the poisons take effect.

Use extreme care and caution when handling rodenticides. Always read the product label and FOLLOW the MANUFACTURER'S INSTRUCTIONS and WARNINGS. Keep the poisons away from pets and small children.

Finally... A Better Mouse Trap!

How It Works: Bait the trap with peanut butter and set the trap along a wall where you have seen evidence of mouse activity. The mice enter the trap, sniffing their way to the bait. A sharp jolt kills the mouse quickly. Removal for proper disposal is easy without touching the carcass.

Mouse Facts:

Common House Mouse

Common House Mouse

Did You Know?

  • A mouse can live for up to two years.
  • Mice are prolific breeders. Female mice can have up to ten litters per year, with up to ten baby mice per litter, and they start breeding at just two months of age.
  • Mice usually build their nests close to a food source. They are fond of dog food.
  • A mouse defecates often, and their droppings are very small (about 1/8 to 1/4 inch long). Finding feces is a good indicator of mouse activity.
  • Mice are carriers of diseases including salmonellosis, and they are also hosts to parasites such as fleas, ticks and mites.
  • A mouse gnaws on wood and other materials, and they can chew on anything that is softer than their teeth. Like other rodents, their teeth never stop growing.
  • Mice are accomplished climbers, and can scale nearly any rough surface including the interior walls of our homes.
  • A mouse's tail is as long as its body.
  • Mickey Mouse was created in 1928.

The Ultimate Full-Size Mouse Trap - Well, sort of....

Remember the old Mouse Trap game? If you've made it this far, take another minute to watch this human mouse trap video. It is really amazing!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Anthony Altorenna

Tell Us About the Mouse in Your House

anonymous on July 12, 2012:

Tapping a mouse is something we don't even want to think of but here you are with great advice for getting the job done if the need arises.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on March 30, 2012:

We had mice when we lived in the country but I guess city mice have other places they prefer to live. We haven't been bothered by mice at all...spiders on the other hand....yuck!

LouisaDembul on December 12, 2011:

I used a mixture of everything when we moved into a new house, full of mice (some were pretty big!). We killed them as soon as they got stuck on the glue, quick and easy.

Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on November 18, 2011:

I use snap traps. I am always fearful for my fingers, as the traps are so cheap and sometimes very sensitive. We get a lot of mice in our garden and in the garage. I caught 2 in the snap traps last week. I don't need bait, as either the fact that the traps smell of mouse or the fact that they are placed on a narrow run the mice use, is enough for them to get caught. The week before I caught one with my bare hands, had to take him up the road and relocate them. I tried the sticky traps once, but caught a mouse by it's foot, and it had stretched it's leg trying to get free - not very humane. Nicely done with good information, blessed.

thomasaden on November 15, 2011:

I liked this lens very much, all the information here are interesting and informative. I found some mouse facts really amazing like a she mice can deliver up to 100 baby mice in a year.

mahasson on November 03, 2011:

Great info on mouse traps. I prefer the classic Victor traps, but I've also heard good things about those plastic T-Rex traps as well.

anonymous on November 02, 2011:

What an amazing tutorial on mouse traps. The snap has been my choice. The sticky traps are not humane but sometimes with a small mouse that you just can't get in a snap trap works. I don't have to deal with mice in the apartment building I live in. I do have a mouse tale for you though. Years ago, my sister had a Dodge Dart that she parked in my parents garage for about a month while she visited. As cold weather approached, she turned on the heat and had the most awful smell that she couldn't figure out. She had box vents that Dad had taped shut for the winter. When she went home again, she told Dad about the smell, he opened up the vents and out poured cat food that the mice had hauled in during the previous visit. One has to wonder what Tommy was doing while the mice were carrying off his food.

anonymous on October 20, 2011:

I feed a lot of stray cats around the house since moving in here, and guess what, the mouse have disappeared since then! :)

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