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How To Set A Mousetrap [Mistakes To Avoid]

How To Set A Mousetrap

An easy way to get rid of a mouse once and for all is to follow this guide.

Have you discovered small little mouse droppings under the sink or in your cupboards? Is the thought of having a little mouse scurrying around while you sleep and contaminating your home keeping you up at night?

Mice can be difficult to get rid of if you opt for half measures.

We’ve been in your shoes, which is why we’ve created this step by step guide on how to lay a mouse trap for 100% accuracy, and the mistakes to avoid.

People opt for mouse traps as they are easy to set up and a cost-effective solution to get rid of mice.

In this guide you’ll find out:

  • How to set up a mouse trap
  • Which mouse traps you should use to get rid of mice
  • Rodent control strategies
  • Which bait to use
  • Common mistakes people make with mouse traps

Mice may be one of the most irritating pests to some people, leaving thoughts of having a rogue mouse running around the home eating left overs, eating through wires, and wreaking havoc.

We look at how to create an effective mouse trap strategy, where to place them, and what bait is the best.

Keep reading to find out.

What is the best bait to use?

Before setting up your mouse traps, it’s important to find out the most desired bait for the mouse.

Peanut butter

Forget the old tales of cheese being use to get rid of mice.

Peanut butter is a good choice for dealing with both mice and rats. It stays fresh for a number of days, has a long shelf life, and is found in most people’s homes. A downside to peanut butter is it isn’t just rodents that are attracted to it – other pests such as ants and cockroaches eat it.

You could also try sprinkling a little bit of oatmeal on top of the mouse trap, to make sure the mouse takes the bait.

mouse trap

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How to set up a mouse trap

There are several types of mouse traps available, but for this article we’re going to focus on two different types: one humane mouse trap and one non-humane mouse trap. The humane version is a catch and release trap, and the non humane version is the classic snap mouse trap.

Snap Trap 

When most people think of a mouse trap, the snap mouse trap is what they’ll imagine. Snap traps have been around for decades. They are simple, cost-effective, and work straight away with little setup. A straight forward method to get rid of rodents without using chemicals or poison. Snap mouse traps include a spring loaded platform combined with an arm bar which is set off once a mouse puts his weight on the bait.

Catch and Release Mouse Trap (Humane method)

An alternative mouse trap to add to your strategy would be using a catch and release trap. The idea behind it is when the mouse is inside, the trap leans forward, automatically closing the door behind it so the mouse can’t escape. When you’ve caught the mouse, you can then walk it down to a green area and let it go.

Other types of traps

  • Ultrasonic Sound Repellents: Another humane method to keep rats and mice away. These devices emit a high frequency noise which is unpleasant for rodents.
  • Electronic traps: These type of traps produce a high voltage electric shock, meant to kill the mouse instantly.
  • Glue Boards/Sticky Traps: This trap works best for small rodents such as mice. It involves a dish filled with a sticky substance such as glue. However, it is not a very humane method for killing these pests, as they sometimes resort to gnawing their own limbs off to escape.

Mouse trap placement best tips

Whichever type of trap you plan on using, the placement tends to be the same.

You’ve got the best bait to get rid of mice and a trap, now where do you need to put it?

Here’s our best tips on mouse trap placement:


Firstly, look for mouse droppings – check areas such as behind trash cans, under the sink, and along the walls or baseboards. The more poop in one location, the more frequently the little mouse has been back and forth. Therefore, placing a trap in this location has a higher percentage chance to be triggered by the rodent.


Mice love to run alongside walls. Due to this fact, it’s important to set your mouse trap perpendicular to your wall. This way, it doesn’t matter which direction the mouse is moving – it’ll trigger the trap.

Numbers game

The more mouse traps you use, the higher your chance of trapping a mouse, especially if you have more than one mouse in the house. Try adding 1 mouse trap per 2-3 feet of baseboard or wall.


Try to leave the bait for at least 2-3 days before opting to change it. The mouse may familiarize itself with the food and come back on the second night and take the bait.

Set up the mouse traps

If your plan is to set a snap trap, simply follow these steps:

  • Remove the staple to enable you to pull back the arm
  • Place bait onto the trigger
  • Pull the trigger back and place the lock bar underneath the baiting platform (Be careful not to get your fingers caught, as the trigger is sensitive and can go off. Keep your fingers away from the baiting platform )
  • Place the trap along the edge of your baseboard or along walls with the baiting platform facing the wall
  • Set at least 4-5 traps – the more the better

Be careful when you set up your mouse traps, as they are very easy to set off. Remember to also wear gloves when handling your bait.

5 biggest mistakes when setting up a mouse trap

1. Using Too Much Bait

Mice are tiny, and therefore don’t need a slab of cheese or a tablespoon of peanut butter. Less is more; use a tiny bit of peanut butter about the size of a pea. Also, sprinkle a little bit of oatmeal on top.

2. Leaving a human scent

 Mice are smart little creatures. If they smell a human scent, they’ll likely stay away. In order to stop that from happening, wear latex gloves when setting up your mouse trap.

3. Not using enough traps

Go big or go home! Mice can produce up to 7 babies per litter and in a small time period of under 21 days, which will fly by if you don’t deal with this problem quickly. To prevent mice breeding, eliminate the problem early by placing up to five mouse traps along the same wall.

4. Setting the trap in the wrong place

Mice have a fear of open areas, so they tend to stick to walls or baseboards. In order to catch a mouse, this is where you should be placing your traps. Think of areas such as behind sofas, fridges, or cabinets.

5. Using the wrong bait

Peanut butter combined with a little sprinkle of oatmeal is the best bait to use for catching mice.

Mouse Disposal

If you’ve managed to catch a mouse in a trap, make sure you dispose of it safely. Make sure to wear gloves when disposing of dead rodents.

They are carriers of various diseases, so be careful when handling their poop, urine, or dead carcasses.


There you have it, an easy step by step guide on how to set mouse traps around the home. Just remember to wear gloves to hide your scent from the mice, use a small amount of peanut butter, and to place perpendicular to the wall!

Remember it’s a numbers game! The more mouse traps, the more likely you are to trap a mouse.

If you think you might have a large mouse infestation, we recommend you call a rodent control expert. 

Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively. 

Read more here.

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