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Review: Top Two Snap Mousetraps

Updated on August 8, 2014
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Rula Lenski is an experienced writer on the topics of women's self-esteem and self-defense.

Selling snap traps since 1899

At left, the model M-040 mousetrap, designed in 1899 and a bestseller ever since; at right, the Pro or "Easy Set" M-325, with its "cheeselike" trigger plate. The blood-red "V" graphic enclosing a mouse appears on traps manufactured after 1955.
At left, the model M-040 mousetrap, designed in 1899 and a bestseller ever since; at right, the Pro or "Easy Set" M-325, with its "cheeselike" trigger plate. The blood-red "V" graphic enclosing a mouse appears on traps manufactured after 1955. | Source

When You Want 'em Dead

I rent an old house in the country and in winter trap a mouse almost daily. I quit buying poison after a poisoned mouse died out of reach beneath the water heater and stank up the house for a full six weeks. Glue traps, which work like flypaper, presented me first thing in the morning with a panicked mouse super-glued to cardboard by its fur. Manufacturers recommend disposal in the trash. PETA objects to this because the mouse then dies of stress or starvation. "Live traps"--little black box traps--are purchased by soft-hearted folks who think mice are too cute to carry disease, including hantavirus, through your food, oven, and silverware drawer. Like me, you can leave your kitchen sparkling and crumb-free only to find Mickey's little cousin has chewed up the bar of soap in your bathroom shower caddy. In my "death scene" photo below, the blue shreds are what's left of a plastic bottlecap on a fresh quart of olive oil -- hard plastic, chewed right through! For my money, nothing eliminates mice as well as a Victor spring-loaded wooden mousetrap.

I'd been more than satisfied with the traditional M-040 Victor traps with the copper-plated bait pedal measuring 3/8" wide, the width of my little finger. It's American-made, sturdy, and was sold everywhere. Invented by John Mast in 1899, hailed as the perfect mousetrap, it's still manufactured in his hometown of Lititz, Pennsylvania, by Woodstream Corporation. In 1986 the company tried out a plastic bait pedal, calling this model the M-325, also known as "the Pro" and trademarked as "Easy Set." Last year, unable to find the old model at hardware stores, I began using the "Easy Set" because it's now the only game in town.

The Easy Set's "cheeselike" bait pedal (the trilingual packaging says, in Spanish, "queso," and in French, "fromage") is baited at the factory with mouse attractant, but I have never yet caught a mouse without dolloping the pedal with peanut butter. The package came with no special instructions, so I dolloped, drew back the kill bar, and set the trigger rod as usual. It nearly snapped my fingers off. I did this 15 times, taking more care with each attempt. Believing them defective, I actually threw away two units of "Easy Set" for every two I used before thinking to take up jewelry pliers to bend the tip of each trigger arm into a tiny hook. A how-to video says the bait doesn't go atop the "cheese" but instead into a bait trough so small you can hardly see it. The pedal, 1-1/2 inches wide, is so supersensitive it can't bear the weight of peanut butter or tolerate vibration from the floor.

According to the video, this new trap has two settings: sensitive and less sensitive. Settings aren't mentioned on the trap or packaging, and the video doesn't show them, so I believe these "two settings" are mythical and that the trap's only mode is "insanely sensitive." Here's the trick to it: bait, pull back the kill bar, and then lower the "cheese" very very gently and precisely onto the trigger rod at an angle of about 30 degrees. It should catch and hold. But unlike the traditional mousetrap, as you set this model your fingers are directly in the kill bar's path. Even with surgical-quality skill and care I calculate the risk of sudden deployment at 50-50. From trigger to kill is 12 milliseconds, or, as the engineer who measured it said, one beat of a hummingbird's wings. Users must withdraw their fingers faster than that.

The plastic trigger plate, and the reduction and disappearance, after 100 years, of copper or even copper-washed metal parts, suggests to me that Victor's goal in flooding the market with "Easy Set" is to reduce production costs. Okay, business is business, but what frosts me is that Victor's own website declares it's a myth that mice love cheese. They prefer peanut butter, chocolate and bacon. So why the cheese-like trigger plate, complete with Swiss-like holes? Beyond personal injury and the morality of its marketing, the trigger plate design poses yet another serious problem. The traditional bait pedal triggered when a mouse nosed it upward or downward, or from the side, and the pedal's smallness meant the mouse had to be very near. By contrast, the Easy Set trigger plate must be pressed downward only. The result is that the trap doesn't always kill in the old quick and merciful way.

Two Cheers for Fake Fromage

2 stars for Victor Pro (M-325) Easy Set (TM) Mouse Trap

Yes, Those Traps Do Work

Now I get to mop up the battlefield.
Now I get to mop up the battlefield.

Sensitive People, Don't Look Down Here

The object of a snap trap is to break the mouse's neck. Good traps do this reliably. Mice are my arch-enemies, but I feel sick when the trap snaps in the kitchen cabinet and 10 minutes of mouse death throes follow. The body at bottom right shows the typical problem with the "Pro" model. The larger trigger plate permits the mouse to approach, nose first, from the trap's far edges. The kill bar thus strikes not the neck but what I might call the "craniofacial" region. The brain still functions. The mice struggle and bleed. (Tip: Lay newspaper beneath your mousetraps.)

The two mice in the photo were caught within 20 minutes of each other, both with the "Easy Set" trap. The mouse at the top flopped around dying under the sink while I covered my ears and fought to keep my dinner down -- because I won't pour bleach on them or crush their heads to put them out of their misery. And no way on God's green earth will I put them to sleep in my freezer, as some people advise. While a half-trapped mouse suffers agonies, I'm fearing it might escape the trap, shoot through a dime-sized hole and raise a new generation of rodents in a nest made from my paper table napkins. A female mouse can have 60 babies a year and according to the Victor website, few mice travel more than 30 feet from their birthplace. As mentioned, the other mouse died, cruelly, of craniofacial trauma.

I like my mice dead. People who don't have mice gnawing their $12 quart of olive oil or pooping on their counters may get upset by that. But if you want to get rid of mice, don't imagine glue traps are humane; in some countries, such as Ireland, they're already illegal. And releasing captured house mice in a park or "into the wild" among tougher field mice and feral cats isn't better: They will surely die, but not swiftly. Even a housecat rips mice limb from limb. I prefer to dispose of them whole, with their traps. If I could stand to re-use the traps, I'd already own a hoard of classic Victor traps and not have to order a fresh 20-pack online and pay for shipping. My two years' worth of experience with the Victor Model 325 Easy Set Pro--which traps, but is not a better mousetrap--forces me to do that.


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