Unwelcome guests have invaded your home, and you’ve decided to set a mousetrap. But what kind should you get? How should you bait it? And what will happen once the animal is trapped? To help you make an informed purchase, we discuss these issues in our mousetrap buying guide.
The cheapest mousetrap is also one of the most common: the snap trap. Snap traps are generally sold in multiples and designed to be disposable. A wooden or plastic base contains a simple spring-loaded device with a bit of bait on one end and a thin metal bar on the other. The bar is held under considerable tension by a centralized spring and a trip wire connected to the bait holder.
Lured by the bait, the mouse crosses the trip wire and the bar snaps shut. This action either breaks the mouse’s neck/spine or pins it down until the user can dispose of the entire trap.
Shopping tip: Avoid ultra-cheap snap traps if you’re not completely comfortable with the extermination process. Some pricier models feature wind-up spring mechanisms for a “no see ‘um” dispatch, while others allow you to step on a special hinge to set the trap — no fingers necessary.
Another inexpensive method of exterminating mice is the glue trap. A glue trap is a piece of wood or cardboard that is liberally coated with sticky resin and placed in various locations around the home, including pest entry and exit points.
The mouse steps onto the glue trap, which may or may not be baited, and becomes mired in the heavy adhesive. Death is not instantaneous, but owners can dispose of the entire trap without making contact with the animal.
Shopping tip: Look for glue traps that don’t skimp on the amount or quality of adhesive. Cheap glue traps with only a thin coating are better for catching insects than rodents.
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Some people have moral or ethical objections to killing animals. For these folks, a live trap is more appealing.
A live trap is essentially a cage with a collapsible door. When the mouse enters the live trap, the door closes, prohibiting escape. The user then takes the entire cage to a release area and sets the mouse free. This type of trap costs more than some other options, but it can be used again and again.
Shopping tip: If catching and releasing mice with a live trap is your goal, be sure to buy a trap rated for small rodents. Some live traps are too large for mice, and their triggering mechanisms are not sensitive enough to detect their presence. Chemical or ultrasonic repellents may also help encourage mice to leave on their own.
Some people don’t mind killing mice, but they have concerns about the methodology used. Snap and glue traps don’t always deliver an instant death blow, resulting in excessive suffering for the animal. For these people, an electronic trap is a more desirable solution.
Attracted to a protein-based bait such as bacon or peanut butter, the mouse enters the trap via a tube. Inside, the creature trips an electrical circuit and receives a powerful shock that dispatches it instantly. The user can then dispose of the remains (without contact), bait the trap again, and reset the unit’s electrical circuit.
Shopping tip: Don’t be fooled by advertising hype when it comes to electronic mousetraps. Battery-powered models can deliver the same jolt as a stun gun, but actual results vary. Invest in a higher-end model that uses both house current and a battery backup.
Few mousetraps work without some form of bait. Protein-based foods work well, but some choices are more effective than others.
Many people assume that cheese is the ideal enticement, but research suggests that mice aren’t always attracted to traps baited with cheese. One theory is that people tend to handle the cheese too much during the baiting process, and mice can detect human odors very easily. Whatever food you choose to use, it’s important to handle the bait as little as possible when preparing your mousetrap.
Peanut butter is one of the hottest mousetrap baits right now. Why? Mice are naturally attracted to nuts and seeds, and the scent of peanut butter suggests both protein and fat to a hungry mouse. Bird seed is also used by some people.
Fatty bacon, or even small chunks of jerky, are commonly used in mousetraps with great results. Mice are carnivores, after all.
If you don’t have any of the above solutions on hand, consider baiting your trap with a bit of oatmeal, cracker, butter, chocolate, or pet food.