The mouse trap has been around for so long that it's become part of our language and to an extent, part of our culture too. Some one says to 'build a better mousetrap' and immediately we know what they mean - we 'have to find a better way'. I believe that since childhood, in cartoons & tv [for example], we have always been shown a snap trap with a fat morsel of cheese sitting on top of the trigger plate.. Anyone who's ever had to deal with mice in their home will tell you they much prefer the insulation on electric cords over any dairy product, let alone cheese!
In our case, we live next to the easement for a flood zone. Which means that there is a huge field behind our property that cannot be built on and is home to many creatures, from deer and turkey to mice and rabbits. It's a great area for photography but in winter a variety of pests come forth seeking better accommodations for the season. There's no sense in lying about it, we have a problem with field mice in the winter & this is my sure fire way of cleaning them out quick!
Step 1: Equipment Check
Generally speaking there are only six parts to a mouse trap but we are only going to concern ourselves with two or three; the trigger plate & the keeper pin. In Fig 1 I am holding up the trigger plate to show the area beneath it, this is where the bait 'should' be placed. Fig 2. I recommend checking the catch on the trigger plate where the keeper pin connects. As this is normally kept in place by the tension of the kill bar, you can hold your finger up against it with considerable pressure but make certain the force applied is perpendicular to the trap base. This will let you know how tricky the trigger will be once the trap is 'loaded', that way you can get it right w/o taking chances breaking a finger. Fig 3 and Fig 4 show how to adjust the catch on the trigger plate. Most of the time, if the keeper pin doesn't want to catch and hold against the tension of your finger [or the spring loaded kill bar] then it's just a slight bend is all that's needed - like I am attempting to do with the screwdriver. I find that about 35% of these traps need a little adjustment, just to get them to work.. but these are el'cheapo anyway.
Step 2: A Word on Bait..
Mice don't care for cheese and I often wonder where that iconography started. I have found though that creamy peanut butter is irresistible to them. I have experimented with dog kibble, bird seed, grass seed and anything else I have found them to have been nibbling on but in the end, peanut butter won out. I have also found that adding a bit of fruit or a cracker of some sort works as a double whammy. Fig 1 shows where I've dabbed a bit of peanut butter on the killing floor just under the trigger plate. I have also smeared peanut butter on a bit of a fortune cookie and stuck that to the UNDERNEATH/BOTTOM side of the trigger plate. This forces the little buggers to disturb the trigger plate in order to get the bait below it. Fig 2 shows the same thing but with a thin slice of apple smeared with peanut butter. Once you have the bait stuck to the bottom of the trigger plate, you are ready to set the trap.
Once you have set the trap pause a moment to give a sigh of relief & congratulate yourself on not getting smacked in the process. Fig 3 The mice will not be so lucky, they will soon face a trap set by a master baiter and will no doubt be their doom. I should note; Fig 4 is the fortune from the cookie I used to bait the trap..
Step 3: Crime and Punishment
Fig 1 shows the baited trap on the floor of my garage. This is an area where we have seen some 'activity' which is a nice way of saying 'there's been mouse poo seen here'. Fig 2 I heard a snap in the wee hours of the morning & found this a few minutes later and sure enough, his head is underneath the trigger plate. It works every time & lines the poor buggers up perfectly so that the kill bar comes down & kills them instantly. No suffering or dragging the trap off to die latter - that really bugs me.