How to Set a Mousetrap

Stephanie Shaykin
Updated September 28, 2021
Mouse looking out a hole in a house
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There’s an easy—and ethical!—way to deal with mice

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Even the biggest animal-lovers among us don’t want a mouse in the house. While cute, these squeaky guys can carry diseases and pose a health risk to you and your fam. But there’s a simple way to deal with unwanted mouse houseguests: trapping them.

Humane vs. Traditional Mousetraps

You’ve probably seen traditional mousetraps on old episodes of Tom and Jerry. These old-school contraptions, made of a rectangular piece of wood and trigger, are lethal for the mouse. Other methods of rodent removal, including poisons and glue, can be used as well. However, these approaches are determined to be inhumane by organizations including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

There are a number of humane catch-and-release traps you can buy online or at the local hardware store. These don’t kill or harm the mouse in any way, and you can release him safely outside later.

How to Set a Humane Mousetrap

Mouse sneaks through sliding door
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Here’s the safe way to keep mice out of your home.

1. Mouse-Proof Your Home

Getting rid of mice in an old home, and even a new home, starts with keeping them out. Mice can squeeze through spaces as small as a dime, so be thorough in blocking any entry points to your home. Here’s how to do it:

  • Fill any spaces in your walls with steel wool. Use caulk or expanding foam sealant to ensure mice can't get in.

  • Make sure food and food waste is secure and sealed. This will help reduce their numbers even more.

  • Use natural deterrents, such as mint or surface sprays. If you’ve already spotted a mouse, use these deterrents in that area.

  • Ultrasonic repellents are a great way to get rid of mice because they emit a pulse that disorients rodents. All you need to do is find the place where they're most prevalent and turn on the device.

If these deterrents aren’t solving your mouse problem, turn to traps.

2. Bait and Place Traps

Mice rely on their whiskers and body hair to feel their way around. So, set traps near walls instead of in the middle of the floor. They should be parallel to the walls, encouraging mice to run inside. 

For bait, spread some peanut butter on some crackers and place the food into the trap. The sweet smell will be too enticing for a mouse to resist! When the mouse enters the trap, the door will shut, trapping it inside. 

Be sure to check on your trap every few hours and first thing in the morning. Once trapped, the mouse won’t have any access to water and will become stressed as time passes.

3. Release the Mouse

Once you’ve trapped your furry houseguest, take the trap outside to a local park or field and release the mouse.

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