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The Absolute Best Way to Bait a Mousetrap

Updated on June 3, 2020
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I have many interests and an inability to make up my mind about which one to focus on. That's how I came up with my name: ControlledChaos1.

Mouse vs Mousetrap
Mouse vs Mousetrap | Source

Baiting Your Mousetrap Properly

Using the proper bait to put on your mousetrap is an often overlooked key to success when trying to get rid of pesky rodents. Traps are still a great tried and true method of getting rid of such trespassers, but only if you know what bait to use. They're lots of ways to bait a mouse trap, but only one way (I've found) that works the best.

Picking the right bait to put on a mousetrap with the intent of getting rid of a rodent intruder seems like an easy task. You do a quick search online to find that everyone swears by peanut butter, you put a big swab of it on the trigger, set out the trap and patiently wait until the next day so you can throw out the mouse. Morning comes, and you are met with disappointment. The trap is either untouched or, worse yet, the bait is gone and the trap is still set (like a thief in the night).

The reason for this is that peanut butter alone is only one part of getting rid of these clever pests. I've even found (before I knew the secret) mousetraps sprung, bait gone and trap chewed up, as if the mouse took it personal that someone had the audacity to try and kill it. The method describe below is one that I've had 100% success with over a number of years. I hope it works for you as well, and if lucky, you're problems with mice won't be a problem for long.

Signs You Have a Mouse or Rat Problem

I know that this video is made by TOMCAT, but it has very relevant information in it that will help you decide whether to go with a small mouse trap or a much larger trap for rats. Putting out the wrong type of trap will affect your success rate enormously. If you go with something smaller than required, the rodent will not only escape, but in some cases destroy the trap itself (learned from personal experience).

Problems With Mice

Is this the first time you've had a mouse in your home or apartment?

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Tools of the Trade
Tools of the Trade | Source

What You're Going To Need

  • For this article, I'm using the cheapest (but still quite reliable) mousetraps that VICTOR makes. There are mousetraps that have pressure sensitive plates (the press n' set traps) that companies like TOMCAT make that are very good as well, but much more expensive per trap. I've used the cheap ones all my life with excellent results; you just have to be more careful when setting them.
  • A screwdriver and pliers will make it a lot easier when putting the bait in the mousetrap.
  • Any kind of peanut butter will do (even the expired kind).
  • Some kind somewhat flat dog treats (more on these below).

Why Just Peanut Butter as Bait Won't Work When Dealing With Mice

There are a lot of mousetrap mistakes you can make that will lower the odds of catching your target, but the biggest is putting a blob of peanut butter on the trap and thinking you're job is done. It's amazing how mice can be so light-footed as to completely lick the delicious treat off the trap without it going off. Just peanut butter won't do the trick. After seeing a video like this for the first time; I couldn't believe it, but seeing my traps empty and still set convinced me otherwise.

The Other Secret Ingredient When Setting Wooden Mousetraps

Type Of Treat To Use As Mouse Bait
Type Of Treat To Use As Mouse Bait | Source

Treats like the one pictured above can usually be bought for $1.00 a bag at certain stores (I often get mine at Wal-Mart or the local Dollar Tree). There's no need to get a brand name,as you can just get the cheapest they have. The only requirement (if you want to call it that) is that the treat must be flat enough so that you can fit it into the trap and secure it well enough to where the mouse will have to pull at it to try to get it. This pulling action is how the mouse will trigger the trap.

Preparing the Mousetrap
Preparing the Mousetrap | Source

Step 1: Preparing the Trap

Take a flat-head screwdriver and gently wedge up the claw plate enough to where you can fit the bait into it. The metal is soft enough where it doesn't take a lot of strength to achieve, so most people can do it with no problems.

Some people suggest you wear some kind of disposable gloves when preparing the trap, but I never have. The thinking is that the scent of a human touching the trap will override the scent of the bait. I have a hard time believing this, since most mice travel quite openly in homes, but I won't talk anyone out of using gloves if they want.

Mousetrap Baited and Ready To Set Out
Mousetrap Baited and Ready To Set Out | Source

Step 2: Baiting and Setting the Trap

Cut or tear a small strip of dog treat to where it will be sticking out each end of the trigger plate. Now, take your pliers and gently squeeze down until you can't pull it away (ONLY DO THIS WHILE THE TRAP IS NOT SET).

Be careful about squeezing too hard or you will break or crack the bait making it easier for mouse to remove without triggering the trap. If the bait doesn't pull out of trigger using gentle but firm pressure, you should be OK.

Next put a small amount of peanut butter inside the hole on the trigger, and you don't need much. You don't even need the amount shown in the picture; I just put that much on there so it would show up when I took the photo. Basically the peanut butter doesn't have to stick out of the hole like that.

Now you can set the trap.

A Tip On Where to Put Your Mousetrap

If you've seen the mouse in a certain area, then target the walls. Mice love to stay up close to walls, as it makes them feel safer. This is the preferred way for them to travel, so if in doubt put a few traps up against several walls in different areas of house.


Place the end where the trigger is against the wall (like the letter T). This way the mouse won't have to go around trap if coming from the other direction.


Keep kids and pets away.

Why I Like Using VICTOR Mousetraps

As you can tell from the above video, you do have to be a bit more careful when setting these more sensitive traps, but as long as you handle them carefully, most won't go off. I would actually suggest practicing setting these kinds of traps to get used to them. You can then set them off on purpose to get used to the noise and power of the kill bar striking the wood. It's better to practice before putting the bait on, because if the trap goes off prematurely, you'll have to re-bait the trap about half of the time. (JUST DON'T LET LITTLE KIDS TRY TO SET THE TRAPS)

A Note About Re-Using Mousetraps

The traps shown in the article are quite cheap, so it's not really a big deal if you want to just throw away the trap along with the dead mouse attached to it. With that being said I've got some old traps (same type in this article) that my Grandfather used back in the 1980's which still work well. As long as they still work, I re-use them.

I put on a pair of rubber gloves, pull back the catch and drop the dead rodent into a plastic bag or trash can. Then I put some alcohol on a paper towel and wipe down the trap removing any bait still left in the catch. Let it dry and put it away until you need it again.

How To Identify Mouse Entry Points

Finding where the mice are getting into your home must be a top priority if you don't want to have to do battle with these little boogers on a constant basis. It really is amazing that holes as small as a dime is all a mouse needs to gain entry into a building. Even if you find such an opening and see no evidence of mice going in and out, it would be wise to seal it up as it will eventually be used as a doorway for some kind of animal or insect.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Don

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