Set a profitable mouse snap trap program


July 18, 2022

Illustration: ISerg/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Illustration: ISerg/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Need a best practices refresher for using snap traps at a house mouse (Mus musculus) account? Read on:

  • Eliminating spilled food and other debris helps increase the efficiency of your traps. So does performing proper sanitation and pest-proofing, and storing food in rodent-resistant containers.
  • See what the mice are eating before you select an appropriate lure.
  • By pre-baiting traps without setting them for a night or two, you can get a higher initial catch. Pre-bait with items such as chocolate, bacon bits, oatmeal, or kitty malt, which is a paste of malt and paraffin for cats with hairball or other digestive issues.
  • Dipping dental floss in liquid chocolate and letting it dry can be used to bait traps, as most mice love chocolate. Female mice also have a strong nesting desire, and often go for the string over cotton balls or leaves.
  • Soap and crayons also make great snap trap lures. They contain fats (lipids) on which mice feed.
  • Avoid the use of peanut butter around children and people who are known to have peanut allergies. In particular, if you slide a snap trap with peanut butter under a radiator, the heat can rise and result in releasing peanut butter vapor into the air — which can be deadly to some people. Be especially careful in schools and daycare centers. Avoiding peanut butter is the best and safest policy.
  • Whatever lure you place on the snap trap, use a small amount and see that it is firmly attached. If not, mice can gently lick or pull off loose material.
  • Sprinkle a small, light amount of cornstarch in a suspected mouse activity area. Wait 24 hours and see whether any mouse footprints appear. If so, concentrate your traps in that area. Note: Do not do this in an active food or pharmaceutical processing area where no foreign dust is permitted.
  • You may have to create access ports by cutting into wall voids to reach where to set your traps. Remember, pest management professionals (PMPs) go where no ordinary people go. You have to seek out the source.
  • Use more traps and locations than you think you need. Over-trapping is much more effective than under-trapping.
  • Frishman_Austin300x300

    Dr. Austin Frishman

    Avoid trapping just at floor level. Use traps on shelving, in suspended ceilings, etc.

  • Vibrations can trigger traps to trip prematurely, so carefully consider placement. The vibration can be from a forklift, from animals running from one location to another, or even from humans dancing, or example.
  • Do not set snap traps until they reach room temperature. If you bring them in from a cold area and set them, the metal can expand and cause the traps to trip before any mice have a chance to visit them.
  • Place your snap traps inside rodent bait stations or PVC pipe to keep them from getting dusty, and away from pets and children.
  • When placing traps perpendicular to a wall, leave a very slight space so the trigger does not hit the wall when it releases.
  • Use three traps in a row about six inches to 12 inches apart. Place the outer two closest to the wall and the middle one away from the wall, about eight inches. This increases catch rate. Three traps placed exactly the same are too easy for some mice to skirt around, thereby avoiding any catch.
  • Force the mice to travel into the area where your traps are placed. Use boxes and other large items to do so. It is like herding cattle into a runway where you want to round them up (well, trap them, in this case).
  • If you move a large object in a room where mouse activity is known, it triggers mice to reorient themselves to all the objects in the room. This way, they have a better chance of finding your snap traps.
  • In warehouse storage areas where you can slide a long board — inside a pallet, for example — attach three or four snap traps onto the board. Set the baited traps. Gently slide the board into the base of the pallet where you suspect mice. The next morning, remove it and check the traps. Keep a record where you place each board, because you do not want the product to leave with the traps still there.
  • As mouse populations select for individuals that learn or are born trap-shy, it becomes more difficult to catch them. Sometimes placing a trap in a glue board such that a mouse can reach in and try to get the bait on the set trap gives you a victory over one smart mouse.
  • When you come back to check your traps, do not just run a trap line focusing only on the traps. Look around and see what you might have missed for a new
    trap location.
  • If you suspect behavioral resistance to snap traps, switch to another method of control (multiple-catch traps, glue boards) for a few weeks, then switch back to snap traps.

The future of mouse control

Mice are no fools. Fellow Pest Management Professional Hall of Famer Dr. Bobby Corrigan (Class of 2008) once showed me a photo of a male mouse jumping over a snap trap with its tail straight up and scrotum tucked up. Mice know how to protect themselves.

What does the future look like for mouse control? Remember, for some people, the future is now. How far along are you with the times?

  • Infrared cameras can detect mice in wall voids and suspended ceilings, as well as on the exterior.
  • Some pest control companies have crews that do nothing but pest-proofing, including rodent-proofing specifically.
  • Some companies are entering the field of exterior landscaping and weed management as part of rodent management.
  • Killing humanely is the norm. There are traps on the market defined
    as humane.
  • Sensors, including photos, allow you to see what, if any activity occurred on each trap via your smartphone. In addition to knowing immediately which trap got a hit and where, you’re able to more formally analyze data of mouse counts, predict trends, and decide what should be done to be proactive.
  • DNA analysis of rodent hairs found in food items and traced back to mouse populations in your account could get you involved in a lawsuit. Keep written records of what sanitation and rodent-proofing steps you recommended. If you are having trouble getting a grip on a rodent problem, ask for help.

As I enter the twilight of my career, it is a very good feeling to know that my former students have advanced past their professor. Thank you, Bobby, for helping me keep up-to-date on rodent management. — A.F.

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