How to Catch a Mouse

I had never even seen a mouse until I moved to an older building on the East Coast. Workmen were doing some repairs on the outside, which I think disturbed a couple of critters and caused them to come into my apartment. Here’s how I got rid of them.

Types of Traps I Tested

I didn’t know much about catching mice, so I went to Home Depot and bought three types of traps: four Real Kill Glue Traps, two Ortho Home Defense Max Pres ‘n Set Mousetraps, and two Ortho Kill and Contain Mousetraps. I wanted to deal with the problem as soon as possible because I found it difficult to eat in my kitchen knowing they were there!

The glue traps are basically flat plastic pads about the size of a small notepad with glue on the top. The Press ‘n Set moustraps are just plastic versions of the classic wooden “snap” traps that you think of when you envision a mousetrap. The Kill and Contain trap is an enclosed version of the classic snap trap that is supposed to spare you the “drama” of dealing with a dead animal.


I had seen them running along the kitchen floor and most recently on my kitchen countertops. So, I placed all eight traps on my countertop. It was like a minefield; nothing could get through.

I baited them with peanut butter, as suggested in the instructions. I’ve read that cheese is not as good, because the mice can grab them without setting off the trap (yes, they are smart!), unless it’s a really sticky type of cheese.

The Best Trap

I set the traps and went to bed. The next morning I ventured to the kitchen, half dreading what I would see. But I found nothing. They must have been full for the night before I set the traps. The next night, nothing again. Maybe they had left? Maybe they were too smart?

The next day, I was out of the house for the whole day to attend a conference. I got back late at night to find two dead mice. The winning trap was the plastic version of the traditional snap trap, baited with peanut butter. Both of them scored. The glue traps and enclosed traps didn’t catch anything.

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My Recommendations

Based on my results and what I’ve read from other people, here are my recommendations for catching mice:

  • According to my testing and other people’s results, the classic snap traps are the best! That must be why this type of trap has been used for hundreds of years. The modern plastic version is fine. I didn’t have any luck with the enclosed version though. Unless you have pets that you need to protect from the traps, I’d go with the open classic version.
  • Use peanut butter for the bait. If you use a less sticky type of bait like American cheese, people have reported that the mice can carry it away and you’ve created feeding stations instead of traps.
  • Go all out and place many traps. Even if you only saw one mouse, there are probably more. You really want to catch all of the mice in one go, because they are smart and can learn with repeated exposure. Some people have even had to set out baited traps which are not set, in order to teach the mice to feed there, then set them later to catch them. Not something you want to be dealing with! So, use many traps!! You really want to create a minefield.
  • Location is important. Place the traps where you’ve seen the mice scurrying.
  • Seal all openings to your house to prevent further encroachments.
  • Keep your place clean. I had been a bit lazy about leaving dishes in the sink and so forth. No more.

What Not To Do

Let me cover a couple of bad solutions to avoid based on what other people have tried:

  • Avoid glue traps. According to my testing, they don’t work as well as snap traps. If they do work, they are “high drama”, as you’ll have to deal with a live trapped animal that might be still struggling and squealing. Yech! Finally, some people consider them inhumane, since it results in a slow painful death.
  • Avoid poison, or else might end up with a dead rat decomposing in your walls. Not something you want. Also, if you have pets or young children, poison is a non-starter.

Catch and Release?

The thought of trying to catch the mouse alive did cross my mind. I thought about it and it seemed impossible to catch a mouse manually using a bucket or anything like that though.

There are lots of humane traps people have built to catch mice live. The classic one is a plank of some sort (a toilet paper tube will do) that you put on the edge of your counter with the bait at the end. When the mouse crawls in, it will fall over into a tall bucket or trash can waiting below. That seems too tricky to me. I think the mouse will just knock it over, but you can give it a try. There are other contraptions that you can find on Google.

The other problem is what to do with the mouse when you’ve caught it. I’ve read that you have to release them at least a few miles from your home, or else they’ll find their way back. But if you live in a city, they’ll just go into someone else’s home, or else you’ll have to drive completely out of town into the countryside.

What techniques have worked for you?

– Brian

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Nancy Mauseth
Nancy Mauseth
5 years ago

If you’re looking for a natural solution, try peppermint! They hate the smell of it. Plant peppermint around your foundation, or make your own sachets with cat litter and peppermint essential oil. The biggest problem I’ve had with it is the maintenance…they’ll be back when the smell wears off if you don’t get everything sealed.

Rob Gee
Rob Gee
5 years ago

The big wooden traps work fast. Thinking of rats (which I have). — the first one died today or rather came to my foot on top of a M&M’s candy wrapper and jsut stood there. I covered ith with a small box adding weight to the top of it slid some cardboard underneath and carried it to the open trash can if it doesn’t get out it should be dead soon. I took a hcance with mice poisons salesman said mice poison would work for hte rat. I think if finally did after over 3 long days. I don’t hear the next anymore so the Mom may have taken the poison back to her young. I sort of feel bad but they cause quite a smell and cleaning is endless. Getting rid of all food they could get to helped. The plastic ones set off 4 times without catching any. I explained to them their food was outside. They are as mentioned in the article pretty smart. No nibbles from the mouse so far–assume I have both. My cat doesn’t do anything. I hear a female cat will catch them though. Also rat-terriors.