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How Does Mouse Trap Work?

A mousetrap can work in a couple of hours or even days. The best is to set up a few snares along their path the first night, as studies show it is more effective.

March 7, 2022

10 min read time

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humane mouse trap


Mice are cute and furry, but they cause destruction on commercial and residential properties when they decide to make your place their home. They cause significant damage and wild mice can carry disease.

You do not want to share your place with a mouse infestation. So, if you do have a mouse problem, controlling them with a trap is one of the best options available.

Here you will learn how a mouse trap works and what you can choose to capture those small furry critters.

Mouse Traps What Are They and How Do They Work?

On the market, you can find different types of mouse traps these days.

But when you use a traditional snap trap known as the loaded-bar mousetrap, you place them in the pathways of the rodent. The mouse smells the food you put in the trap, and when the mouse takes the food, the spring mechanism triggers the metal bar to snap and kill the mouse.

Then you have glue traps. You place them in the exact location as the snap trap. After the mouse encounters the trap, the rodent becomes immobilized by the adhesive surface. As a result, the rodent dies from hypothermia as they cannot move to maintain their body temperature.

Alternatively, you get the more humane mouse trap known as the live catch traps.

When caught in the trap, you release the rodent into the wild, but it does not guarantee that they will not return. You use a food bait inside the trap, and once the rodent moves through it, the door snaps close.

Different Types of Mouse Traps

As mentioned, you can find a wide selection of traps to take care of a rodent problem:

Snap Traps

Snap traps are your traditional mouse traps with a metal spring loaded bar that, when set properly, comes down onto a plastic or metal base to kill the rodent. Then, you place a small piece of food onto the pressure switch that releases when the mouse steps on it.

So, if you do not want to handle a dead mouse, snap traps with a spring loaded bar are not the right option, and you can look at the other models but at least with this method it’s not a slow death.

Glue Traps

One of the best forms of other traps is are glue traps. These mouse traps work with a snare that has a cardboard or fiberboard structure covered with strong glue. Once the rodent runs over the glue, it gets stuck.

While these are not killing traps, they are not humane unless you can release the rodent in time. The sticky trap can be a very effective way for capturing a house mouse.

Electric Mouse Trap

Well, one thing is for sure this is not an animal-friendly snare. These mouse traps work as electronic mouse traps send an electric current through the rodent, killing them at once. But, the best part is that you can reuse the trap again and again to kill mice.

The trap is a bit expensive, but if you know you will be using it repeatedly, it is worth the while to invest in and is a great form of rodent control.

Catch and Release

These are the most humane mouse traps you can find without feeling guilty about killing a mouse as instead you’ll have captured mice. These mouse traps work as you place food inside, the mouse enters, and the door shuts behind the rodent when it enters.

They are an effective method of pest control but you will need to monitor the snare to take the rodent and release it in the wild. You can also use more than once. This is the right trap from those who want a non lethal method to get rid of house mice.

How to Setup and Bait a Mouse Trap

When it comes to catching mice, you set them and wait until they are cause no matter what trap you choose. Yes, it sounds simple, but when you do not do it right, those clever critters get away.

1. First and Foremost Keep Your Hands Off Mice

Yes, one of the the interesting facts about these creatures is that mice can detect your scent when you set up a trap and handle it.

To get rid of mice, wear gloves when placing the mouse trap bait from the food preparation to placing the bait. The same applies when you need to remove the wildlife. Always wear gloves to protect yourself from any diseases the mouse has.

2. Use The Right Food

Okay, forget about giving the mouse cheese, as most rodents are seed and nut eaters. Instead, baits that attract most rodents are hazelnut spread or peanut butter. While even chocolate can work, it’s best to stick with something like peanut butter. When it gets cold outdoors, mice start moving indoors to build nests.

So, lure them by placing dental floss, yarn, twine, or cotton balls.

When you use a snap trap, wrap the fiber around your trap to trigger them to start pulling or gnawing at the mouse trap bait to spring the trap.

Also, do not overdo it with the snacks, as a mouse will steel some without getting caught. Only place a pea size amount to attract mice.

3. Set The Trap in The Right Place

Yes, placing any mouse trap is easy, but you need to set them up in the correct place. Rodents dread exposed areas and surry around in dark spots close to walls. They traverse using their whiskers, and the best is to catch them where they are active.

Therefore, place your mouse traps along walls where they travel.

Also, put the bait and trigger end to face the wall tempting the mice to explore instead of walking around the trap. Another important thing is to place the trap in concealed areas at the back of a cabinet, refrigerator, or stove.

4. Plan For a Big First Night Using a Few Mouse Traps

Rodents reproduce fast and can have up to six babies every 21 days.

Place a few mouse traps about three feet apart along a wall where you see activity taking place. You can set the traps in pairs as close as an inch apart in high-traffic areas. Be ready to catch most of the mice on your first night. This is the time when you can hook most of them.

How Do Mice Avoid Traps?

A mouse has a great sense of smell, and how they perceive threats is different from how we do. For example, they do not look at the trap and know it is a glue trap or more. Instead, they rely on their smell to avoid it.

For one, a mouse knows how the scent of humans and their surroundings. So, if they smell you on the trap, they will avoid it. That is why we recommend using gloves when you set the bait and the trap. The same applies. If they smell dead mice in a trap, they will stay clear of the area.

So, remove a mouse caught in a trap the next day before it decays. Also, even if they find the bait, they remain on high alert when nibbling on food. That is why it helps to set up mouse traps in groups.

What Should You Do When You Catch a Mouse in a Trap

Great, you had success, but what now? How do you dispose of a dead or living mouse?

Yes, it is an unpleasant task be needs to be done. However, the important thing is never handling any rodent directly, whether dead or alive.

Rodents transmit different diseases if bitten, and best to keep yourself safe with these guidelines.

Disposing of a Mouse

Always wear gloves and never handle the mouse trap or our mouse directly by following these steps.

1. Put on your rubber gloves and use a disinfectant spray of water and bleach to spray the mouse and the surrounding area.

2. Take a plastic bag, place the mouse in it, and save the trap for future use or dispose of it.

3. Also, place any soiled objects, including nesting material, food, and feces, inside the bag with the mouse.

4. Seal the bag without pushing out the air in the bag as it might spread germs or bacteria.

5. Place the bag inside another one, seal it, and throw it in the trash.

6. Wash your gloves and hands using soap and water and spray them with disinfectant.

Disposing of a Live Mouse

When you dispose of a mouse caught in glue traps or humane mouse traps, the same rules apply:

1. Put on your rubber gloves and place the trap in a bucket to transport the trap at least two miles away from home.

2. Place the trap on the ground creating a barrier between you and the snare like using a log.

3. Next, throw some vegetable oil over the glue tray and the mouse to break down the glue allowing the mouse to escape.

4. Place the glue traps in a bag and seal it to throw it out. Next, wash your gloves and hands and dispose of the gloves.

5. If the mouse is dead in glue traps, follow the same steps as disposing of the dead rodent but throw the entire glue trap with the mouse in a plastic bag.

6. To release a mouse using a humane mouse trap, follow the above steps in one and two above. But turn the snare over to open downwards, releasing the mice.

7. Clean the trap and reset it at home.

Places Where You Can Release a Mouse

If you decide to use a live catch trap and need to release them, look for uninhabited areas about two miles away from the home to prevent them from finding their way back.

Never remove a rodent from live catch traps where they can become another person’s problem like near homes, parks, farms, or businesses. Instead, look for a spot with cover and vegetation like in a field away far away from buildings.


Do mice know where traps are?

The way a mouse perceives a threat differs from the way we do. They do not look for snares or understand that there is one. Instead, mice rely on their instincts and smell to avoid a mousetrap. Hence, they will smell the food placed in the trap but even remain cautious when eating.

How long will a mousetrap take to work?

A mousetrap can work in a couple of hours or even days. The best is to set up a few snares along their path the first night, as studies show it is more effective.

How quickly does a mousetrap kill a mouse?

It depends on the type of mousetrap you decide to use. The snap trap and electric mousetrap kill rodents. The electric mouse trap is not humane, but it does electrify the mouse without suffering compared to a snap trap.

Are mice smart enough to avoid traps?

Mice are bright but not that intelligent and will avoid traps for other reasons. For example, they will avoid a trap if they smell your scent when handling the food or the snare. Hence, it helps to use gloves when setting up the snares.

Another reason they would avoid a trap is if they smell a dead mouse stuck in the trap. Therefore, it is essential to check on traps in the morning to remove the mouse, dead or alive.

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