How does a mouse trap work?

Mouse traps work by either trapping or killing mice on contact. Quite a few traps are available commercially, or you can opt to make your own.

Some traps catch mice without harming them, so that you can release them away from your home.

Other traps may use glue, springs or electricity to keep mice trapped or kill them outright. Let’s explore how a few of them work.


Catch and release traps

Most snap traps rely on sensitive spring coils or levers to snap into position to trap mice.  They can be wood or plastic and do not need any bait or poison to catch mice. You can also re-use some of these traps.

These traps allow you to catch mice without injuring or killing them and are called humane traps. Commercial traps come with a hinge at the opening that releases when a mouse enters the trap.

Mice can get in, but cannot escape.  They are also safe around small children and pets in the home.

Snap and release traps work by a lever close to the entrance. As the mouse goes into the trap, the metal latch moves backward, releases the bar and snaps shut so the mouse cannot escape.

Some snap and release mouse traps have mesh wiring that allows air to circulate while the moue is inside. They are available in metal or plastic.

You can opt to place poisonous or regular bait inside the trap. Leave a small opening at the entrance for the mice to get inside the trap.

When you catch a mouse, you can take the trap to a remote location, release the mouse and let it go free.

Place these traps anywhere you observe mouse activity. Garden or tool sheds, inside the house and the garage or the attic are ideal.


Plastic snap traps

The design provides a metal trigger bar that sits at an angle and snaps shut to trap mice inside. Place the bait inside the trap, and pull the metal latch at an almost 90 degrees angle to activate it.



Glue Traps

Glue traps are non-toxic traps. They come in various sizes with sticky glue surface at the top of the base. When mice come onto the glue, they become stuck and may not be able to escape.  Glue traps work with or without bait.


Enclosed snap traps

These traps have a sturdy plastic casing and a compartment inside to hold the bait. There’s a small opening for mice to enter.

As they step onto the plate, a sensor triggers the trap door to snap shut, trapping the mouse inside.

To set the trap, press onto the handle or rotate it until it locks into position.  You can release the mouse at another location or dump in the trash bin.

Enclosed snap traps are safe to use around children or pets. There’s no need to handle the mouse.  The traps are hygienic and pose no danger when setting or releasing mice.


Ultrasonic mouse traps

Ultrasonic traps work to repel mice when they come into close range of the unit. When you plug the device into the electric socket, it releases ultrasonic waves that keep mice at bay.


Electric mouse traps

Electric traps rely on battery power to operate.  They release high voltage electric shocks and kill mice on contact.

Place the bait to the back of the trap, to lure the mouse entirely inside. When the mouse comes close to the sensor, the unit releases high volts of electricity and kills it within seconds.

There’s a safety switch which protects users from shock when they open the trap door. To release the mouse, hold the unit upside down over the bin and let it fall inside.

Some electric mouse traps come with sensor lights that flash to let you know a mouse is inside.  You can re-set the trap for the next kill. They are easy to clean, and you never have to touch the mouse.


Live mouse traps

They are some of the best ways to trap mice without harming them. Most live traps resemble a cage which holds mice inside when they attempt to reach the bait.

Users place the bait inside the trap.  When the mice enter, the door closes, trapping them inside. You release them at another location or put them in the garbage bin.


Home- made mouse traps

Apart from the range of commercial mouse traps, you can also create your taps from recyclable items around the house.

Paper rolls, buckets, glass, plastic, and cardboard containers are ideal for making traps.

Using an empty paper or toilet roll, fold each end to form a tunnel.  Lay it flat side down onto the countertop or edge of the tale.

Next, put a small piece of bait inside the tunnel to tempt the mouse.  Take an empty bucket or box and sit it on the floor, directly under the trap.  When the mouse enters the tube, it may tip the trap over into the receptacle.


Container mouse traps

Any empty bucket, pail or cylinder can work to make this trap.  First, make some holes at each end of the container and pull a piece of string or wire through the barrel.

Connect a piece of wire across the top of the can to allow it to roll around quickly.

Next, erect a ramp-like fixture near the rim of the container for mice to run along the can.  Place some sticky bait over the container.  When the mouse moves onto the trap, it will begin to turn and until it falls into the receptacle below.

A paper plate can also work in place of the container.  Put the plate on top of the can at a slight angle close to the center.

Smear a small piece of bait onto the plate.  As the mouse steps onto the plate, it will topple over, straight into the bucket.



In spite of the type of trap you use, its effectiveness will depend on how well you set and position the trap. Regardless of the types, you should also be careful when choosing the best mouse traps according to your need.

Set traps in target areas like close, dark corners, to the back of cupboards and cabinets or wherever you notice them scurrying around. Ensure the bait is securely in place so mice cannot nibble and run away.

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