How to Set a Mouse Trap Properly

by Véronique Raymond

Random noises in the walls or ceiling at night; chewed out carton boxes or pieces of paper used as nesting material; and, on occasion, a terrible odour that engulfs the room no matter how thoroughly you clean it. Yes, all these signs point to a mouse problem.

Mice, although often out of sight, can cause many problems. Not only will you find that they’ve chewed through most of your possessions, destroying them in the process, but they could also cause your house to smell terrible and build nests in your walls. This happens when they die within the walls, and their bodies begin to decompose. 

The issue with dead mice in the walls is that they can be difficult to locate, which means that you may have to suffer the discomfort and embarrassment that comes with having that foul smell lingering in your house until the decomposition process is complete, which could take the better part of a month.

If you are trying to get rid of mice, the best course of action would be to call an exterminator for pest control around the home or learn how to set a mouse trap yourself. 

Since exterminators can be expensive pest control options, learning how to set a mouse trap for catching mice seems to be the more viable option. 

The Best Type of Mouse Trap to Use


Since there are multiple traps you can choose from, it’s difficult to say with certainty which is the best mouse trap to buy. The choice you make will often come down to a few factors:

  • How humane do you want to be?
  • How much money do you want to spend?
  • How easy is the mouse trap to set?

That being said, there’s always been an assortment of mechanical mouse traps for sale. These are often quite cheap, readily available, and easy to set. 

You’ll also want to determine if you have a mouse infestation or a rat problem. If it’s the latter, then you’ll want to make sure to get a rat trap instead. You can usually determine this by checking the mouse droppings. 

Here are some of the most common mouse traps you will find on the market. 

Wooden Mouse Trap

You have probably seen this kind of trap before; it’s one of the most common designs available. This kind of trap is very basic and quite easy to use. It comes with a spring-loaded bar that is U-shaped and a wire latch that remains attached to a small board. 

This kind of trap is very popular because it’s easy to use and quite affordable. You can easily throw it away, mouse and all, or simply pull the spring back, remove the trapped animal, and re-use the trap.

A Snap Trap

Made out of moulded plastic and a spring-loaded mechanism, snap traps or live traps, are quite easy to set. Some can be set by using just one hand. One of the biggest advantages of a snap trap is that all you have to do is squeeze it to release the trapped mouse into the trash, which means that you never have to touch the rodent.

Press-and-Set Trap

As the name suggests, a press-and-set trap works exactly like that; simply press it, and the trap is set. This moulded plastic trap has either single or double-grabber teeth, a mouse trap bait well, and a well-covered triggering mechanism. 

This trap is not only simple enough to set, but it’s also quite easy to clean out, as all you have to do is press it again to release the trapped mouse, then reset it for the next culprit. 

Glue Trap

A glue trap, also known as a sticky trap, is another easy-to-use mouse trap option. The glue trap is coated with a sticky adhesive. Once the mouse touches the adhesive when going for the bait, it will immediately get stuck to the board. 

These traps aren’t used often, however, because it can prove to be a slow death as the mouse can suffer from starvation or suffocation. 

Tips on How to Set a Mouse Trap 

Wooden mouse trap

Source: Pixabay

Assuming that you are going to be using any one of these simple and easy-to-use mouse traps, there are some steps you need to take to set it up properly. Here is a step-by-step guide for how to set a mouse trap. 

Preparations for Setting a Mouse Trap 

Since most mechanical mouse traps work under the same principles, there are some steps you need to take in preparation before you can actually set the trap. Here’s a list of everything you need to do before setting the trap.

Find the Right Mouse Trap Bait

If you are going to lure the mouse into the trap, you need to find something irresistible to mice. The kind of mouse trap bait you choose has a lot to do with the kind of success you will experience in this venture. Since mice like sweet or fatty treats, using peanut butter, hazelnut-cocoa spread, bacon, dry rolled oats, candy or nut meat as bait will work perfectly.

Wear Gloves To Set Mouse Trap

Like most creatures, mice have developed extremely sharp survival instincts. They do their best to avoid any kind of predator scent from dogs, cats, humans, and so on. To successfully set the trap, you will need to get a pair of gloves and use them. 

By putting on these gloves, you are not only masking your scent but also protecting your hands from the trap should it get accidentally sprung. You can use disposable gloves, especially when disposing of the trapped mouse, or a pair of kitchen or gardening gloves.

Use Disinfectant

There’s no telling where that mouse has been all day and night. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to use a virus-killing disinfectant and a plastic bag to dispose of the dead mouse and reset the trap for the next mouse. This keeps things sterile.

Once you have everything ready, it’s time to set the mouse trap.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting a Mouse Trap 

Start by removing the trap from its box and placing it next to all the materials you gathered for this venture. Make sure you are wearing gloves for this entire process. 

Step 1: Determine How the Trap Works

Depending on the kind of mouse trap you bought, you might have to take some time to figure out how it works. However, if you buy a mechanical mouse trap, then the instructions should be pretty straightforward.

Step 2: Fill Your Trap with Bait

Take some of the bait you’ve decided to use and add it to the trap (or the bait cup). The idea is to put just enough bait so that the mouse becomes curious to come and inspect the situation as opposed to putting too much mouse bait that he can simply grab and vanish into his hiding place. 

You should aim to put a portion the size of a peanut. If you are using a wooden mouse trap, spread the bait across the plate or trigger pedal. However, if you use a press-and-set trap or a snap trap, simply place the bait into the baitwell.

Step 3: Trick the Mouse

Since mice have developed highly specialized survival instincts, meaning they won’t be too quick to run towards unfamiliar objects such as your mouse trap. As such, you may need to trick them into thinking that the trap is safe. 

To do this, simply place some of the bait on an unset trap near the mouse activity or any entry points where you think they may be entering the house. Let it sit there for a day or so. Once the mouse inspects the unfamiliar object, takes the bait and realizes that nothing happened to it, it will become more comfortable around the trap and expect to find more bait each day.

Step 4: Place Mouse Traps

Once you find that the bait is gone from the decoy trap, it’s time to set the real trap. Using the same bait, set the trap at the exact location where you noted the previous rodent activity. If using a wooden trap, simply pull back on the spring bar and securely latch it to set. 

If you are using a snap trap, simply squeeze it to the open position, and if you are using a press-and-set trap, press it until you hear the characteristic click sound indicating that the trap is set.

Step 5: Inspect the Trap

Since mice tend to feed at night, check the trap in the early morning for any catch. If there’s a mouse in the trap, use your rubber gloves to dispose of it and clean the trap with the disinfectant for the reset. If there isn’t a mouse there, but the bait is still there, give it another night.

If there’s still no mouse after a few days, you might need to move the trap and refresh the bait. To find out where there’s mouse activity, check for rub marks and droppings. You could also spread talcum powder on your floors to create a trail then set the trap in the mouse’s path.

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