"Build a better mouse trap..."
Well you don't need to build a new mouse trap. The old standard works great with a slight modification and the proper use use bait.
Once you have your trap modified and baited properly, there are three things that are very important to catching mice: location, location, location.
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Step 1: The Trap
There are many different types of traps you can purchase to catch mice. Some are kill traps and some are live traps. If you chose to use a live trap, ask yourself why? If it is to be nice to the mouse or you can't deal with a dead mouse keep this in mind.
If you release the mice back into your yard, they will come back in! They don't want to be out in the cold when they know your house is nice and warm and stocked with yummy food. There are also live traps that may keep the mouse alive but to what end!
There is that sticky paper type where the mouse sticks to the trap. I have not used them but I have seen the results of their use. The mouse will not like being stuck to this and they will get themselves free. I have seen what they leave behind, stuck to the paper. I won't go into that here.
As un-PC as this may sound, just kill the mice. Get a good old spring trap, bait it, set it, kill the mice. Normally, where it one, there are several.
There are some fancy kill traps that are easy to set, easy to clean, etc... But they do not work as well as the good old fashioned spring trap. If you want catching mice to be easy, hire an exterminator to come in and take care of the problem. If you want to catch mice, you will have to do a little work and get your hand dirty.
If you don't like getting your hands dirty, wear gloves!
Step 2: Modify Trap
Once you get your trap out of the package, there is one small modification needed to increase the killing power and accuracy of the trap. To help insure the mouse is trapped when they are on the trap, you will need to modify the trigger so that it will go off when the mouse sniffs it.
You do not want the mouse moving around and working on the bait without the trap going off. To do this, straiten up the trigger latch to a point where you can no longer get the trap to set. Then bend it back just a little.
This will create a hair trigger on your tarp. When the mouse so much as sniffs the bait, it will go off. This is very important.
It is also very important to watch your fingers once you have made this change. The trap will go off when you least expect it. Just carrying it around may cause it to trigger. Hold the trap on the sides on the end where the bar is located when the trap is set. If the trap happens to go off while you are holding it, the bar will not hit you. You will drop the trap and the bait will come off but you will be safe.
Step 3: Bait the Trap
What is bait? Bait is the thing that gets the mouse to come and visit your trap. So what do mice like?
How about a nice piece of cheese? NOT! Mice will eat cheese but that isn't what they really like. Cheese is not part of a mouse's natural diet. But given no other option, they would be more than glad to eat your cheese.
Use a peanut. Mice love nuts. Take half of a peanut and jam it into the CLAW of the trigger. This will hold a peanut in place so that a mouse can not just nibble on it or get the bait and sneak off with it. By jamming the peanut on the CLAW and having the modified hair trigger, the trap will go off when the mouse come by just to sniff this yummy peanut.
Step 4: Location, Location, Location
You want to put your trap where the mice are. Sounds simple doesn't it? Well it is. How do you know where the mice are? Well how do you know you have mice? They will either get into your food stuff and you will find an open bag of peas or rice and you know they are around.
Mice also tend to leave their calling card where they go. When you find their calling card, put your trap in that location. Mice will travel the same locations. So trap where the poop is.
Make sure the trap is clean of obstructions so when it goes off it doesn't hit anything. If your trap is in a hard to reach location, you may want to anchor it with a string or wire. Just because this is a kill trap doesn't mean the mouse dies. The trap will also jump around when it goes off. If you have a string attached to it, you will be able to find it after it goes off.
In the picture below, the trap is clear of obstructions. It is also in an easy to get to location so there is no need secure it.
Step 5: Wait for It ------ SNAP!!
Check your trap a couple times a day. If you hear it go off, take care of it right away and reset. Where there is one mouse there are many mice!
Look at the trap for the bait. It is normal for the nut to come off when the trap goes off. Look for the nut and use it again. You do not want it drawing the attention of a mouse unless it is attached to the trigger. Dead mice do not eat the nut. So if you can not find it, that is a good sign that there are more mice.
Dead mice do eat peanut butter, but that is a different story.
Take your dead mouse and dispose of him properly. Put him in a bag, feed him to your large snake, hang him in a tree for the birds. But get that thing out of your house. If you leave it too long, you will start to notice them by their smell! Dead mice do not smell good at all. Get them out.
Step 6: Repeat
Now that you have trapped a mouse, start the process all over. Because it is so common for mice to hang out with each other, where there is one there are many.
Find the bait, reset the trap, put it back in the same place. Or put it in another location where you have found their calling cards.
If you have trouble with pocket gophers, check out this instructable: www.instructables.com/id/How-to-trap-a-gopher/