Mice can be a nuisance for any homeowner. Although they’re not as aggressive as rats, they’re still capable of causing structural damage to your home. They can also carry diseases that can harm you or your household. That’s why if you see signs of mice in your home, it’s best to set up traps with baits to have better chances of capturing them and keeping them away from your space. However, some mice are quicker than the trap mechanism, and end up eating the bait before they get caught.
So how do you trap a mouse that eats the bait off the trap? You have to check if you’re using the right kind, placing, and amount of bait and traps, or see if there are other pests who are stealing your bait. There are also certain instances when your scent sticks to the mousetrap and drives the mice away or causes them to be more careful. If you want better results, you’ll need the intervention of a pest control professional.
What You’re Doing Wrong with Your Mouse Traps (and How to Fix It)
If you find that your bait keeps disappearing but no mice are being caught, there’s a chance you might be using your mouse trap wrong. Here are some common mistakes and ways to correct your pest control solution.
1. Check for Other Pests Stealing Your Bait
One of the most likely reasons your bait is disappearing is that other pests are taking the bait. Depending on the trap you’re using, the trap may not be able to capture the pest stealing your bait. Some other pests that could be stealing your bait include:
- Rats – rats are much larger and heavier than mice, which means glue boards and traps designed for mice may be too small and can allow rats to take the bait without activating the trap.
- Insects – insects like ants, roaches, and slugs can easily get in or out of traps because of their smaller size.
- Small wildlife – if your traps are outdoors or are in areas like your attic that are prone to holes and gaps, it may be possible for animals like squirrels to steal your bait.
Handling rats is different from handling mice, so determine if you have either or both in your home. If you have either rats or mice, use the appropriate type of trap designed for the pest you’re dealing with. If you have both, you may have a pest infestation that might be better treated by a professional pest management company.
2. Using Too Much Bait
You might have thought that, by putting a large amount of food on your trap, mice will be more attracted to the trap and try to reach for the bait. The problem with using too much bait is that mice can easily eat some of the food to sate them before it can even trigger your trap.
Ideally, you want to put just enough food that requires a mouse to take everything. Using a pea-sized amount of bait is just enough to attract mice. By finishing the bait quickly, it’s much easier for the mouse to trigger the trap.
3. Using The Wrong Kind of Bait
While cartoons have led us to believe that mice are most attracted to cheese, this isn’t the case. Although mice will eat any food source available to them, they tend to prefer food items that are rich in carbohydrates. Cheese is also a poor choice of bait because mice can easily take a smaller bit of cheese from the bait without setting off the trap.
Instead of cheese, use other types of food. Peanut butter is a better alternative as mice are attracted to nuts and seeds, but its sticky consistency means mice can’t take it off the trap and will have to consume it on the trap itself. You can also use chocolate or hazelnut spread. If you want to use solid foods, use food that you can tie to the trigger. So, whether a mouse takes the food or eats it, there’s no way for the mouse to get to the food without setting off the trap.
4. Using the Wrong Trap for Mice
There are different types of mouse traps you can find at your local hardware store or online. Make sure you are using traps specifically designed for mice. A rat trap, although similar, is designed for rats’ larger bodies, which in some cases might make it easier for mice to escape. Some of the mice traps to choose from can include:
- Pre-baited mouse traps – these are mechanical traps that already have a bait scent placed on the trigger. This can prevent instances of you putting the bait incorrectly.
- Snap mouse traps – traditional mouse traps with a spring-release bar that snaps when a mouse touches the trigger where the food is. Unlike other traps, this is only good for one mouse.
- Electric mouse traps – kills mice that enter the trap and touch the metal plates that shock it.
- Glue traps – boards with strong adhesives that trap rats when they step on it.
- Cube traps – a box with a door that allows mice to enter to reach the bait, but are unable to go out. These are one of the humane traps that allow you to get rid of mice by releasing them away from your home instead of killing them.
Alternatively, if you have a rat infestation, don’t use traps made for mice. Not only is it ineffective because of rats’ size, but smaller traps are more likely to inhumanely injure rats than to actually kill it.
5. Using a Few Mouse Traps
Mice can breed fast and start an infestation relatively quickly. This can make a few mouse traps inadequate to treat your mice problem, especially if they’re able to steal bait so easily. Rather than using a few traps, try to put several traps close together every 2 to 3 feet together. You can start with a dozen traps spread in areas where you frequently see signs of rodent activity. If you suspect multiple mice, you can put your traps closer together.
6. Placing Your Mouse Trap in the Wrong Area
Mice don’t travel in open areas in your home and tend to scurry close to the walls and other dark areas in your home. If you’re leaving your mouse traps in the wrong area, you’re unlikely to catch them and instead may be leaving bait for other pests to find.
It’s best to put traps in areas where mice are likely to pass by. This includes on the floor close to the walls in dark areas of any room. Try to place your traps in concealed areas like behind large furniture or under your bed.
7. Touching the Trap for Too Long without Gloves
The reason why food bait and bait-scented traps work is because mice have a good sense of smell. That’s why a small amount of bait is enough to pique their interest. But if they smell your scent on the trap even with the bait on, they may be wary and act carefully, which can allow them to steal the bait while being careful of the trap.
A good way to avoid this is to wear gloves while handling your traps. Use latex gloves when adding the bait to prevent adding your scent to the trap. Be sure to also use gloves when dealing with a dead rodent, as dead mice can still carry diseases.
8. Place Your Bait Correctly
Depending on the type of trap you’re using, hanging your bait incorrectly can make it possible for mice to steal your bait without setting off the trap. Here is how you should properly place your bait depending on the type of mouse trap you have:
- Pre-baited mouse traps – these already have a bait-scented trigger, so you don’t have to add bait. Adding additional bait may prevent a mouse from setting off the trigger.
- Snap mouse traps – set the mouse trap and place the bait on the rectangular metal bar.
- Electronic mouse trap – place the bait at the very back of the trap in the bait station.
- Glue traps – place the bait near the trap, not on it.
- Cube traps – there should be a hook in the back of the trap to hold the bait. If the trap has holes around the box, make sure the bait isn’t too close to any of the edges so that mice cannot reach the food.
9. Not Hiring a Professional for Mice Infestations
If you see signs of mice in your home, it’s important to act quickly. Female mice can get pregnant up to 10 times every year and can produce up to 14 pups per horde. This means that it’s easy for mice to grow into a horde and cause an infestation, which can put your property at risk of damage and your household members at risk of diseases from rodent transmission.
When you see signs of many mice in your home, you may have an infestation. DIY pest control may not be the most effective solution anymore because the rat population you have in your space is exponentially growing and you aren’t catching enough to stop the infestation. If this happens, it’s much better to leave the pest control to the professionals to take out your mice problem.
Ways to Improve Your Mouse Traps
Once you’ve figured out the common mistakes you might be making, you can now take steps to improve your DIY pest control strategy. Here are a few ways to improve your use of mouse traps around your home.
1. Use Less Bait
As mentioned earlier, using too much bait allows mice to eat the bait without taking everything and setting off the trap. Just a tiny size of food can be enough to attract them and lure them to your trap. Mice have a good sense of smell, so a little piece of food can immediately catch their attention as long as it’s something they’re likely to eat.
2. Acclimate Your Mice
Mice are intelligent animals, and they’re likely to be wary if a new object appears in their frequented areas. One good way to make them feel safe around the trap is to leave it baited but unset for a few days. After you see signs that they are taking the bait, this means mice now see your traps as a source of food. Set all the traps and wait for them to trigger your mouse traps.
3. Use Peanut Butter Instead of Solid Food
Some solid foods like cheese are easy for mice to break apart. That’s why for these types of bait, it’s best to tie a string around them so that mice cannot avoid the trap. Mice are attracted to foods high in carbohydrates, so try nuts, grains, and seeds instead of cheese.
If you want something more effective, spreads like peanut butter and hazelnut can also attract mice. Unlike solid food, mice can’t break off a piece of spread and will have to consume it on the trap, which can trigger the trap.
4. Use Nesting Materials as Bait
Aside from food, mice are attracted to nesting materials like string and cotton. Some of signs that your mice are nesting include:
- Mice active during the day
- Easy-to-shred materials lined in areas where mice are likely to inhabit
- Urine pillars in areas that they’re likely to be close by
Instead of food, try to use string, dental floss, or cotton as bait. Keep in mind, however, that nesting means a female mouse is about to give birth to a horde. If left uncontrolled, your home’s mice population can grow and evolve into an infestation. DIY pest control may not be the best option to treat infestations, so it’s best to call in a professional to remove all mice from your home.
Contact Midway Pest Management for Rodent Infestations
Mice are smart animals, so using your mouse traps correctly and strategically can help you trap them more effectively. Having mice at home can lead to damage and a higher risk of diseases carried by rodents, so it’s best to act swiftly to stop them from increasing in number. But if you see signs of an infestation, DIY pest control may no longer be an effective solution. In this case, it’s best to contact a professional pest management service to handle your mice problem.
At Midway Pest Management, our mice control services can keep your family and your property safe. Our team of experts follows a protocol to guarantee removing any kind of pests and insects in your home, as well as prevention of re-infestations. Schedule a thorough inspection from our team and contact us today.