How to Trap a Mouse





Introduction: How to Trap a Mouse

"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.

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:



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    73 Discussions

    As someone who has survived hantavirus (no it is not always fatal) I will support the argument that mice CANNOT be in your living space. Just had a mouse in the house and read your 'ible after finding the peanut butter had been licked clean from the triggers on my traps. Did the tweak you suggested and 1 hr later, no more mouse! Thank you


    2 years ago

    oh and nice job building the trap AT


    2 years ago



    2 years ago

    but if you kill it don't you think it will look kind of gross? And maybe you'd want to make a small house somewhere far from your home (make it warm) so if you catch a mouse u could put it there and it may not come back.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    For the most part, the dead mice look just fine. I do take them outside and place them in a tree where they are typically taken as food by one of the local big birds. Much of my yard is a mouse house as it were. There are plenty of places where they live. Nature has a way of providing for them both with food and shelter. So as long as they stay out of my house, I leave a big chunk of my yard alone so they can do their mouse things.

    I've had such a hard time setting these conventional traps to be sensitive enough to catch the mouse, but not snap my finger when I try to put them down. I do like the idea of putting it into a box first that someone suggested, with holes in the box to allow rodent access, but I found that electric traps work great and are humane in that the rodent is electrocuted and killed within a fraction of a second. These traps cost more (about $40), but I don't have to touch the rodent, they're extremely easy to use, and I don't get my fingers snapped (this last one is the most important).

    One thing people should check is for how the rodents are getting in. I had a problem with them getting into my attic every winter, but saw no points of access that they could be using. I don't recall how I figured it out, but I did some investigative work to identify how they were entering. I suppose a motion sensor camera or something like that would work to help gather clues. Anyway, once I saw that they were coming in at a roof junction between the garage and the house that wasn't 100% completely sealed, I bought some anti-rodent expanding foam and sealed up the hole. No more rodents.

    1 reply

    The best way to deal with the mice is just what you did; keep them outside. Mice are very small and it doesn't take much of a chink in the armor to let them in. Mice can climb vertical walls making their options greater that one might think.

    Good job for figuring out how they get into your house and fixing that issue.

    How many mice do you successfully trap in a month?

    1 reply

    We try to keep the mice out of the house and are doing a good job of that. Because of this, tracking on a monthly basis doesn't even make sense as the number of mice are maybe 6 a year and most of them are in the attached garage.


    2 years ago

    but if you kill it don't you think it will look kind of gross? And maybe you'd want to make a small house somewhere far from your home (make it warm) so if you catch a mouse u could put it there and it may not come back.

    Maybe you could catch a mouse without killing it and then let it free . . .

    1 reply

    The problem with using a live trap is what to do with the mouse. If you let them out in your yard, they will come right back in. I could walk them over to my neighbor's and let them go there; but I like my neighbors and don't want to just pass the buck

    Another issue is the size of a live trap means I can't get them into the small areas where a mouse does it sneaking around. We really do not need mice chewing into our dry goods or living in our stove (that was very odd).

    Don't get me wrong; I like mice. I had a pet mouse when I was much younger. They also make great meals for some of the larger birds we are in the area.


    2 years ago

    I'm having this issue now. We've been dealing with mice since moving in our new apartment (we didn't know mice were here until two days moving in). Since November of 2015, I've caught at least 30. Mostly with the sticky traps. I prefer killing them, because I don't want them to come back into MY home. I do not like mice, especially with a baby in the house. My issue is when I get rid of one, more pop up. Ugh. It's a never ending battle and I need a permanent solution. I saw a pregnant one last night. *sighs*

    This is horrible I'd you want to get rod of an animal in your house you need to put it In a cardboard box and let it run free outside. DONT KILL IT! How would you like it if I killed u because you were in my house minding your own business

    5 replies

    Agree with ChrisP18 here. Rodents are disease spreaders. I grow organic vegetables and they get in the gardens and chew on the food and leave their droppings behind. Ugh!! Think about this the next time you eat. It is very important for human safety to get rid of them.

    You literally have no idea how diseases are passed to humans do you? Mice aren't pets. And they reproduce like you wouldn't believe. Killing one isn't going to do anything.

    Rabies, black plague, etc etc.

    The problem with live trapping mice and setting them free outside is that they will come back into your house. Having mice in your house is a health issue. If they want to stay outside in the wood pile, bushes, trees, etc... they are more than welcome to take their luck with all of the birds of pay and other animals that will eat them.

    As for you threatening to kill me if I was at your house, if I were in your house, I would have been invited and killing me would be a bad thing.

    You wouldn't say that if you found yourself eating mouse poop, because it got into your food. The black plague is still around you know.

    You would not say that, if you suddenly found yourself eating mouse poop because it got into your food. The black plague is still around you know???

    We always live trap and release. The key is to release a mile or two away from the house. Chances are they will be eaten by snakes, or raptors but at least they will have fulfilled their role in the Grand Stratagem.