How to make a mouse trap work

Updated February 21, 2017

When you have mice, your only thought is how to get rid of them quickly. So, you rush out and purchase several mouse traps, but you can't seem to catch the mice that are plaguing your home. Mouse traps, either live or snap, are effective when used correctly. This includes the proper baiting and set up. While some of these steps deal specifically with snap traps, most of the tips regarding baiting and placement are good for live traps as well.

Purchase snap traps with an expanded trigger, which have a higher capture rate than those with a narrow trigger.

Use at least six traps or more in your house. You need to use enough traps to make the trapping period short. Most people don't use enough traps when trying to catch mice.

Place traps in an area where mice are active. Look for mouse droppings and other evidence of mouse activity. If you are unsure where the mice are active, dust a few areas with flour and look for mouse tracks. Mice have poor eyesight and tend to travel close to objects and walls.

Position the traps so they are close to the wall or object with the trigger next to the wall. For best results, you should place the trap so it is vertical to the wall (making a T shape). If desired, you can place two traps side by side.

Space mouse traps so they are 10 feet from each other, close to the nest. Mice will not travel further than 40 to 50 feet from their nest in search for food.

Use the right bait. If using food, choose foods that have strong odours such as peanut butter or bacon. You only need a small amount, about the size of a pea. Other foods that are good to use include chocolate, gum drops, nuts and dried fruit. Do not use cheese, because it tends to go rancid quickly and become ineffective. You might also try using a bit of rolled oats to make a trail to the trap.

Prebait the traps by leave them unset until the bait has been taken. Once this occurs, you can rebait the trap and set it. You may need to prebait your traps again after you have successfully caught a mouse.

If the food disappears without catching anything, adjust your trigger to make it more sensitive. You can adjust the sensitivity by bending the trigger arm or by spraying the trap with a lubricant. If this continues happening, your problem might be insects and not mice. Another option is to secure a cloth over the trigger and apply a food bait. The cloth will absorb some of the food, causing the mouse to tug on the cloth. When it does, it will spring the trap.

Move the traps to a new location every few days if you have not caught anything or the bait has not been taken (when prebaiting).


Release live mice at least 1 mile from your home.


Set traps where they will not come in contact with children or pets. Check traps daily, preferably in the mornings. Wear gloves when handling used traps. Dispose of mice in a sealed plastic bag in an outside dustbin or by burying it to avoid spreading disease.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Darcy Logan has been a full-time writer since 2004. Before writing, she worked for several years as an English and special education teacher. Logan published her first book, "The Secret of Success is Not a Secret," and several education workbooks under the name Darcy Andries. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Master of Arts in special education from Middle Tennessee State University.