Mouse Trap Mistakes: What They Are & How to Avoid Them

When we suggest to homeowners that they use mouse traps to resolve a rodent infestation, they often say to us: “We have used traps. They haven’t worked.”

Failing with mouse trapping efforts is sadly not unusual, but the experts will still say to you that lethal trapping of rodents is the best course of action. In most instances, it is the most basic and simple of changes to your current trapping technique that changes the approach to a more successful one.

Mistake 1: You’re only using one or two traps.

Do you know how many mice you’ve probably got in your home or building? It would be impossible to try and work out the number without taking a proper look, but you can take a guess at more than one.

A mouse never comes alone; there is always a family of mice in a nest somewhere, in the same building. The rodent usually sets up home very close to a source of food, so if they’re munching through cereal boxes in the kitchen, you can be sure that the group’s population will be close by.

The more traps you buy, the more chances you’ll have of eradicating every single mouse within that group. Bulk-buying them is often cheaper, and we recommend buying and then setting as many traps as you can reasonably buy.

Mistake 2: You’re not putting traps against the wall.

Mice and other rodents very rarely run across the middle of a room. They’ll stick to the edges — the walls — because this is where they are most hidden and protected. You can use this knowledge to your advantage. Place traps against the walls, where the animal will routinely run, and you’ll have a higher chance of capturing your culprit.

Mistake 3: You’re not wearing gloves.

You’ll need to wear gloves when handling, setting, and baiting the trap, and also when releasing the trap and dead mouse after it has been successful. If you don’t wear gloves during the handling and setting stage of the trap, the mouse will be able to smell your scent all over it and, in turn, avoid it.

Not wearing gloves when disposing or recycling the trap means that you’ll get ‘dead mouse’ all over your hands, and you’ll be at a very high risk for contracting one of many dangerous diseases passed from humans from rodents.

No gloves? No trapping.

Mistake 4: You’re baiting with cheese.

We don’t know where the cheese idea came from, but it’s really not the best bait for mice. They actually prefer grains and similar foods, so peanut butter or something similar is actually more likely to work.

Mistake 5: You’re not taking away the other food sources.

Why would a mouse go through all the trouble of potentially getting trapped for a mouthful of peanut butter when there’s a perfectly good box of cereal with a hole in it, that you haven’t discovered yet, in the kitchen cupboard?

Traps in the kitchen are not going to work when there are plenty of other food sources, so make sure you have a good sweep-around. Foods in boxes should be moved to glass, airtight containers where possible, and nothing should be left out. You should also make an effort to move the garbage bag out of the kitchen entirely. Again, this is a much easier food source than what the trap offers.

Mistake 6: You’re using too much bait.

If there is a big whack of peanut butter on the trap, the mouse can take a little off the top and then scamper off without even so much as alerting the trap as to its presence. A big lump of peanut butter also allows the mouse to eat so much it is full before then turning its back on the trap, using that skim-off-the-top method. If you notice that some peanut butter has gone, but the trap hasn’t caught anything, this is probably why — you’re using too much bait. You don’t need a lot for good results, so try adding a little less next time.

Mistake 7: You’re not moving traps around.

It is common for homeowners not to trap anything on their first couple of nights of trying, but studies have actually shown that the RIGHT trapping techniques will trap more of the rodents in the first couple of nights, than at any other time. You SHOULD catch the bulk of them in the first few days/nights.

If traps aren’t working, move them to other places. Make sure you’re always wearing gloves when you handle them, and always place them against walls or similar, but change the placement. There’s no point in hoping a trap will work when it’s clearly not. You’ll have much better success if you move it to a new spot. (Assuming you’ve already rectified the other problems we’ve discussed today.)

Mistake 8: You’ve got trap-shy rodents.

It sounds like the superhero of rodents, and in reality it is, but a trap-shy or trap-smart rodent is one that knows the drill as far as traps are concerned and will avoid them at all costs.

Trap-shy rodents might have been trapped and released already, or they might have witnessed another rodent being caught up in a trap, lethal or otherwise. The mouse might have narrowly avoided getting caught by a trap once or twice before itself, too. Either way, it’ll be wary of that brand new, silver contraption that you have placed in its habitat.

If this is the case for you — you’re putting traps in all the right places, baiting them with the right things, and still not getting anywhere — you should take a slightly different approach. Put the traps down without food, and without setting them ... at first. Give it a couple of days and then add food to the mix, but don’t set the traps. Once you notice that the rodents are taking the food, you know that they are comfortable enough to get close. That’s when you can set the traps. They’ll take the food, assuming everything is as it normally is.