Mice: 1, Me: 0
November 29, 2012 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Why won't the mice in my attic use their traps?

I have a big attic and little attic with eight mouse traps, four in each. All were baited before Thanksgiving with peanut butter. All I have thus far is one mole caught in the big attic. They are still crawling around up there and not using their traps.
posted by woodjockey to Home & Garden (27 answers total)
Some mice don't like peanut butter, contrary to what people say. Also mice can be very cautious. if the trap isn't in a path they're already using they may simply not check it our regardless of how much food you use.

I used to have mice and had zero luck with snap traps and peanut butter - well, maybe one mouse. Glue traps, horrible as they are, were much, much more effective.
posted by GuyZero at 9:03 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mice are smarter than people give them credit for. My mom is currently being haunted by a mouse, despite 2 cats in the house. The mouse eats the cats litter (Swheat Scoop), poops all the places the cats aren't allowed, and left... remnants... on her nightstand. He's stolen cheese from the trap 3 times. I told her to get a glue trap (haven't heard back yet).
posted by DoubleLune at 9:07 PM on November 29, 2012

I've used rat traps to pretty gruesome effect. Some things to consider that I've done:
- bait alternatives: fruit, stale bread, chunks of salami, breakfast cereal
- trap placing: against walls, always, with the bait end of the trap facing the wall. Rats and mice prefer to move along built edges.
- use rubber gloves when you're setting them so that the traps don't smell like human
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:34 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding Fiasco's second bullet point... this is easily the most important part of trapping. Put the traps trigger areas along paths they travel. Prepare to improve tenancy immediately.
posted by milqman at 9:39 PM on November 29, 2012

Yeah, what fiasco da gama said. Make sure that the traps are right up against the wall so that if the mouse is running along the wall it will run over the trigger. A piece of dog kibble has always worked just as well as peanut butter for me too - wet it before you jam it on the bait thingy so it will stick.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:40 PM on November 29, 2012

Traps really are quite ineffective at controlling mouse invaders. Get a cat.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 9:54 PM on November 29, 2012

I can't tell where the OP is, but has anyone else ever caught a mole in their attic?

The glue traps are rather gross. I felt sorry for the mice, couldn't get them off. And they were hurting from the poison. Had to either shoot them with rat shot or ball the whole thing up and throw them away alive. Didn't make me feel good and my dog was upset with me for a week.

You don't want to to do that. They cry and scream in a familiar mammalian way.

If you must kill them, put some olive or sesame oil on the bait.

Finding the entrances and sealing them left me feeling better than any of that.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:55 PM on November 29, 2012

Cat is old and lazy and good for nothing except being cute and sleeping.
posted by woodjockey at 10:00 PM on November 29, 2012

Glue traps are, in my experience, basically just horrifying. If you do go that route, be prepared to kill the poor little bastards before you throw them away.

I've had pretty good luck with the little live traps that tip forward and close the door when the mouse goes inside after bait. All the mice I've ever had have been really attracted to dry pasta (I use those little curly noodles), for whatever reason.
posted by brennen at 10:01 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is all anecdotal, so take it with a grain of salt - in my personal experience, the snap traps that I had to clean up after were against the wall and more importantly, in frequently traveled areas. Basically what Fiasco de Gama said. Also, if you do end up catching a rat, you probably shouldn't reuse the trap. I may have read this somewhere, or I may be talking out of my ass, but basically the rats can smell the stench of death on the traps. The also have several "regular" paths that they take, which is where you want your traps to go. However, if your trap hasn't been activated in a while, you should move the trap. Either the rats don't frequent that area, or they readjusted their paths to go around your trap. Also, glue traps are indeed effective as well. I remember one time I was sitting on my bed and I heard my (plastic and light) garbage can rattle infrequently. After a while, I actually see a rat (or mouse, I forget the difference)run across the floor, so I set some glue traps around, including behind my trash can. (My trash can is on a little ledge jutting out from my wall, so the only way anything could bump into the trash can is from behind.) Anyways, I somehow see the rat run around again and for some reason end up chasing this rat around and having it hide in different areas of my room - in the closet (tons of hiding spots under piles of clothes) and one of the corners, under a table, etc. So after 20 minutes of me physically and mentally wearing this rat down, I get tired myself and go back to my bed. Soon after, the garbage can starts rattling again, except it isn't so infrequent this time. The rat went back to its familiar route (behind the trash) not expecting my glue trap. I was too squeamish to kill it, so I tied it up in a trash bag and threw it away. (Pretty dickish thing to do there, I admit. I am a coward. So you probably shouldn't use glue traps unless you feel comfortable directly killing the mouse/rat.)
posted by Qberting at 11:14 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just a note about the glue traps, I knew someone that had the job of putting these out around a school and instead of shooting the rats or throwing them away alive, he used a big bucket of water to drown them.
posted by dottiechang at 11:36 PM on November 29, 2012

Try hazelnuts. No-fail where I come from.

[No mole has ever reached an attic. I'm intrigued what that really has been]
posted by Namlit at 12:21 AM on November 30, 2012

I had similar problems with spring traps, and couldn't get glue traps to work either. The electric traps work great, though. They're pricey but effective. They zap the mice (no lingering death), and cleanup is just a matter of picking up the trap and tilting it to let the victim slide out into the trash. Trap placement is key, as others have said. Salami worked better for me than cheese or peanut butter.
posted by zanni at 1:03 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you do go the glue trap route I can tell you (and the eponysterical Mr. Yuck) how to kill a mouse quickly and humanely (and non-messily) because I slaughtered loads of the wee beasties for a genetics project at school. Push a pencil, pen, screwdriver or similar down on the back of its neck and hold it down firmly. Grab the tail near the root and yank it sharply downwards. It's a mousie equivalent of wringing a neck.
posted by Decani at 1:36 AM on November 30, 2012

I've always had great success with snap traps, and I like peanut butter for baits; but bacon is good too (surprise surprise). I haven't had problems re-using traps, and I agree that placing them on a mouse highway really helps. Glue traps are pretty nasty. Those live traps are all well and good, but you must actually kill the mice, not release them "humanely" so they become someone else's problem (we used to drown whatever ended up in the live trap).
posted by thylacinthine at 1:42 AM on November 30, 2012

Place traps along the paths that they're actually known to use (look for poop).

Do not use live traps unless you can get rid of the critters without making them someone else's problem. You cannot just let them go outside your house. They'll be back in through any opening they can find, and that can be an opening smaller than your finger can fit in. You cannot let them go near anyone else's house for the same reason.

We typically trap and release in the middle of a huge wooded park in the area. I would have to imagine that they typically end up being owl dinners, but we like to show the kids that we avoid unnecessary cruelty or killing.
posted by jgreco at 2:55 AM on November 30, 2012

Glue traps are so horrifying, but for posterity you can use cooking oil to free the mouse from the glue.

There are humane traps that drug the mouse so that it falls asleep. You could then kill it or release into the woods.
posted by whalebreath at 3:23 AM on November 30, 2012

I had a problem recently and this is what I did:
1) forget glue traps, they are useless
2) I used a few of these. Yes, they are huge, and perhaps overkill, but then again, that's what I was trying to do: KILL.
3) I'm in Florida and the bait that was recommended to me was a small, pea sized dot of peanut butter coated with birdseed.
4) Put above concoction down in the small circular holder of the trap, so that it is difficult for the mouse or rat to get to; they are going to have to get in there if they want it, and when they get in there, SNAP on their little neck.
5) Put the trap facing the baseboards or along the trail so that they cannot miss it.
6) ???
7) Dead varmits.
posted by THAT William Mize at 4:04 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

The mice at my house are unable to resist stale once-melted low-fat tasty cheese, which is good because wrapping a string of melted cheese round and round and round a snap trap's bait plate and letting it cool and harden there makes it damn near impossible to pull off at all, let alone without setting off the trap.

Only way the bait ever gets eaten off one of my traps is if it's already killed one mouse and another one comes along and helps itself. And any time that happens, it's my signal to deploy extra traps and be a little more conscientious about checking them.

Since Puss died I'm trapping about twice as many mice. They seem to come in waves, between which the kitchen remains mouse-free for maybe a month.

And yes, putting the baited end close to the wall is the right thing to do.
posted by flabdablet at 4:17 AM on November 30, 2012

Dear god, please, please say that you're using humane traps. if you are using humane traps, try candy like jelly beans. It won't work with the other kind though.
posted by windykites at 4:44 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mice are hard to get with regular traps. Is the cat allowed in the attic? Sometimes just the smell of cat is enough to get the mice to vacate.
posted by corb at 6:10 AM on November 30, 2012

I'm not sure why they aren't using their traps like they should, but I'd like to recommend a Rat Zapper (or other similar electric trap). You can get one for less than 50 dollars on Amazon and it really, really just works, and you can keep using it for years (changing the batteries every now and then). I'm not a company rep or anything, I just have been very happy with mine. I've been using it in NYC for several years now and although it's gross that I need it, I'm glad I have it. I like that it's just a quick shock to kill them, so no screaming in glue traps or awful smell of dead mice rotting in the walls like with poison, and I don't even have to see it when I tip it out of the trap and into a garbage bag. Good luck!
posted by coupdefoudre at 7:09 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, even in a low-traffic and presumably dark/cozy area like an attic, mice and rats will still prefer to run along the walls. This is where you should place the traps, not in the center of the room like a Tom & Jerry cartoon.
posted by elizardbits at 7:59 AM on November 30, 2012

The couple mice I've had over the years licked the peanut butter off the trap; I could see the path of their tiny tongues in what remained. I replaced the PB with a small piece of wheat-thin, and then I used pliers to jam the wheat-thin in the metal trigger so it couldn't be removed by those tiny hands, and also used pliers to make the trap more sensitive, more of a hair trigger. (I don't have pets that would interfere with this stuff.) I placed the trap along a wall in a known mouse-run, and when I woke up the next morning, the mouse was dead.

If you do use glue traps, drowning is probably the best way to deal with the living, suffering mouse; it's easy for you, quick for everyone.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:14 AM on November 30, 2012

Have you changed the traps since Thanksgiving? You have to check every day and reapply if Peanut butter.

Regular snap traps worked great for me. Here's what I did:

- as others have said, traps must be against the walls with the trap mechanism against the wall.
- 4 traps aren't enough. Put at least ten out if it's an entire attic.
- check the poop trail and put some around there.
- don't put a huge gob of PB on the trap. You want a small amount so they have to get closer to get it.
posted by Sal and Richard at 10:19 AM on November 30, 2012

And tie a piece of string to the trap before you bait it so that you can pick up the trap by the string to throw it away instead of touching the nasty trap/rat.
posted by tgov27 at 12:18 PM on November 30, 2012

Be resouceful. Buy 1-2 of every damn type of trap available at your local big hardware store EXCEPT glue/bag traps (because they're inhumane). Bait them with various things: peanut butter, icing, salami, whatever.

You can't predict the mice, and they aren't machines; give them choices about their execution method! It's only fair.

But don't use glue traps. Please. Poison is OK; it's quick.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:39 PM on December 1, 2012

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