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Mouse Traps: Which Kind Works Best?

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We recently returned from out-of-town to find evidence of a mouse (or mice) in our house. I searched online and saw a plenty of advice. One thing people could agree on was that you should use about 6 traps per room. But no one could agree on what type worked best.

So, I headed off to Home Depot to buy 24 mousetraps. To cover all by bases, I bought several different types to compare. I didn’t buy any of the styles that use poison, for two reasons. First, we have small children in our house that might mess with the poison. Second, we didn’t know where the mice lived, so we didn’t want them to eat the poison and then die somewhere we couldn’t find them, like inside our walls. I ended up buying 4 different types of traps. Here’s how well they worked:

1. Glue Traps

(about $3.50 for 4)

This type uses a rectangle of adhesive that the mouse becomes stuck to. I really hoped that this type would work well, because they're cheap, they don’t kill the mouse, and they’re safe for children. But they didn’t work. I tried them without bait and with bait. They did not catch any mice, or show any evidence of mice being interested in them.

Glue style mouse trap
Credit: gibbon

2. Victor Multi-Catch Mouse Trap

(about $4 each)

This style is a plastic box with a hinged metal door. The mouse walks inside to get the bait, but then can't get back out. I really wanted this one to work also. It is also a live catch trap, and is safe for children. The downside is that it is the most expensive type I tried. The trouble is, this one also didn’t catch any mice.

3. Victor Metal Pedal Trap

(about $4 each)

This is the old school mousetrap you’ve seen in the cartoons. It uses a powerful spring to crush the mouse with a metal bar. They’ve been around forever, and they wouldn’t still be making them if they didn’t work. They are also fairly inexpensive. This is the one you’re going to have to beat if you’re going to build the proverbial ‘better mousetrap.’ A big downside is that this style is a pain to bait. To really do it right, you need to tie the bait to the trigger mechanism. Otherwise, the mouse might take the bait without setting of the mechanism. I ended up tying the bait to the trigger plate with dental floss, which was extremely tedious when you're using several traps. And while we did catch one mouse with this style trap, we had a few cases where the trap went off and didn’t catch the mouse (twice), and a several cases where mice got all or some of the bait, and didn’t set the trap off. It is also dangerous to use around children. This type seems like it might break a child’s finger.

Wooden mouse trap
Credit: gibbon

4. Ortho Press N Set

(about $4.50 for 2)

This was the winner; the proverbial better mousetrap. This is a small white and red plastic trap that uses a spring arm similar to the old wooden style. However, instead of a metal bar, it catches the mice using plastic teeth. This style is much easier to bait and set than the old wooden style. You don't need to tie the bait down, and the setting mechanism is much lees finicky then the wooden style. It is also easier to remove a caught mouse from this type. We caught 3 mice with these traps. And unlike the wooden traps, we never had any false trips or stolen bait. I did not try this, but this kind seems like it would do less damage to a child’s finger. The one downside is that this style looks like a toy, so it might be more tempting for a curious toddler.

Ortho Press N Set
Credit: gibbon

There are a few other things worth noting. One, our mice were very small. This may explain why the wooden trap missed catching some. The plastic Press N Set might not work as well on a larger mouse, but I don't know. Second, it's important to use the right bait. We tried peanut butter, pretzels, raisins, marshmallows, Goldfish crackers and combinations of those. What worked the best for us were raisins, marshmallows, or both together. Third, the same trap will work over and over. I had read that once a trap catches one mouse, it won’t work again because it will smell like dead mice, and you need to either throw it away, or somehow clean the smell off it. With both the wooden and plastic style, new mice would return to the same trap the next night, with no real cleaning between catches. 

The best news is that the traps do work. After about a week of setting them every night, and checking them every morning (and catching 5 mice), we have seen no more signs of mice.



Mar 17, 2015 5:03am
The glue trap can work though it rarely does. I've had varmints get on it and pull right out. One mouse on a glue sheet I ended up nailing with one of my boots thrown from across my bedroom to kill it. Thumb for an interesting article (and I think, personally, the old-school Victor trap IS the best.)
Mar 17, 2015 9:00am
We got a cat to get rid of our mice, but that didn't work because she prefers birds.
Mar 17, 2015 10:49am
Too funny! Kittehs!
Mar 17, 2015 12:29pm
Thanks for the feedback, Vic, and nice improvisation with the boot.

And, HLesley, that's right in line with everything I've ever experienced when trying to get a cat to cooperate with me!
Mar 17, 2015 12:50pm
This comment has been deleted.
Mar 17, 2015 12:50pm
Just like Elvis Costello, my aim was true (at least in that one instance)
Mar 17, 2015 2:19pm
So we put a bell around kitty's neck so she couldn't catch birds, and then she learned to creep up on the birds so slowly that she didn't make the bell jingle. She did bring home a baby rat once, though.
Mar 18, 2015 11:58pm
We have tried all of those and ended up with an electronic device which you plug into one power point in your home. No mess, no more mice in our home for 3 years now. Even when we go away for 3 months, we dread coming in the house in case it stopped working. So far never found any mouse.
Sorry I tell a lie, we did get one little one once. Our own fault as we left our dog home one morning so left door ajar and he must have wandered into the open home. I swear by them. The light did fail to blink brightly once and I contacted the company and they sent us a new one.
Thanks for the informative article.
Mar 26, 2015 8:45am
This is so awesome. Would love to try different types
Mar 27, 2015 8:51am
Nice article. The old traps work great for me too. At work we have a lot of the poison traps. The mice don't go too far. They are usually in the middle of the floor when we find them. Good article.
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