The house mouse, mus musculus, is an unwanted guest that can contaminate food and spread disease. Droppings (tiny, rod-shaped pellets) may be the first sign that you have mice in the house but you’ll soon see other pointers like scratching sounds, a smell or an actual sighting. The mouse trap is our response to these unwelcome visitors.
Everybody has heard the phrase “Build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door” and many inventors have responded by trying to devise a more effective way to remove mice from our homes. The spring-loaded bar trap was patented in the late 19th century and, since then, the arsenal of traps has expanded to include glue-traps, electric traps and various types of humane trap.
Our own testing suggests that the bar trap remains the most effective way of catching mice but we realise that many people are uncomfortable with lethal traps, and squeamish when it comes to disposing of the corpses. The non-lethal, or humane, trap is a response to these concerns. As regards bait, there are some prepared, commercial offerings but we have found peanut butter to be the most alluring (and more attractive than the cheddar cheese that features in so many cartoons).
If mice have found their way into your home, we encourage you to check out our best mouse traps of 2017. There’s a wide variety of traps on the market and our selections and reviews will save you time in finding the best response to your problem.
Best Humane Mouse Traps
The Trip-Trap is a low-cost, non-lethal trap made of see-through plastic. Bait is placed in a compartment at the end of a rectangular box; the mouse enters the box and a trapdoor closes behind it. The trap can be monitored to see whether any animals have been captured; trapped mice can be released by removing the bait box from the end of the unit, and the trap can be washed and re-used. Some users have commented that it is necessary to tape a coin to the trapdoor to add weight and ensure its effectiveness but otherwise it seems to do the job.
Trixie Humane Mouse Trap
Another non-lethal trap, similar to the Pest-Stop Trip-Trip. The mouse enters the trap, drawn to the bait, and is held inside when the trapdoor closes behind it. The mouse is released when the bait-end of the trap is removed. Manufactured from plastic it is washable and re-usable. Users report good results with this trap in domestic situations. The particular problem with all humane traps is that they require a commitment by the homeowner to check them at least daily (which may not always be convenient if, say, they’ve been installed in an attic); a mouse will likely not survive in one of these traps for more than a day.
Best Lethal Mouse Traps
Big Cheese Ultrapower Mouse Trap
This is a modern version, in plastic, of a jaw-trap and is sold ready-baited. Opening the jaws tensions the spring and sets the trap, which is triggered when the mouse steps on the plate in the ‘mouth’. The particular advantage of this design is that the trap can be set without risking your fingers; the possible disadvantage is that it’s lethal and can lead to a messy clean-up.
Little Nipper Mouse Trap
James Henry Atkinson patented a spring-loaded bar trap in England in 1898, which was brought to market as the Little Nipper. The trap is loaded when the ‘kill-bar’ is pulled back through 180 degrees against a spring. The bar is carefully held in place by an arm attached to the bait-treadle. This design is notorious for snapping fingers when being loaded and it has to be moved into place carefully to avoid triggering the trap. Nevertheless, it is proven and lethal. Technically, this is a reusable trap but its cheap price means it can be discarded along with a dead mouse.
Aspectek Mouse Trap
The Aspectek mouse trap is a modern version of the traditional spring-loaded bar trap. To avoid the risk of snapping your fingers, the ‘kill-bar’ is pulled back through 90 degrees by using a rear frame which locks beneath a loose-hinged catch attached to a trip-paddle holding the bait. The trap is manufactured from polystyrene with a steel spring and bar. Advertised as cleanable and re-usable, the relatively cheap cost may allow you to discard the trap after a successful catch. The Aspectek mouse trap has a wide trip-paddle that should ensure that a mouse is caught when the trap is triggered but, in practice, there does not seem to be an improvement in performance over the basic spring-loaded bar design, and some consumers have reported the trap has failed to snap after repeated use.
Victor Professional Electronic Mouse Trap
This is a lethal trap: Bait is placed inside the tunnel where metal plates are located to deliver a fatal electric shock to the mouse. The trap is capable of trapping three mice before needing to be reset and an indicator light signals a successful catch. It is powered by four AA batteries, which have sufficient power to deliver 100 shocks. Clean-up is easy: the lid can be removed and the dead mice tipped out for disposal. While more expensive than our other picks, this is the choice for severe or repeat infestations.