Types of Mouse Traps

Medically Reviewed by Dany Paul Baby, MD on January 17, 2023
5 min read

If you’ve never experienced a mouse infestation, you might assume the tiny, furry rodents are friendly. Don’t let their innocent appearance fool you! Mice are capable of destroying property, starting fires by chewing cables, and spreading diseases inside your home. Using mouse traps is one way to get rid of house mice. 

How do mouse traps work, and are they effective in eliminating this common pest? Learn more about different types of mouse traps and other solutions for keeping your home rodent-free.

Mice leave droppings throughout the home, chew through electrical wires, and transmit viruses that can make humans sick. They invade residential and commercial buildings to seek shelter, food, and safety for their young. Because of their potential for destruction, it’s important to get rid of them before they begin to breed in your home.

A mouse trap is a device that traps the mouse. It might or might not kill the mouse. There are options for humane mouse traps, which capture mice without harming them. There are also other traps, like the traditional “snap trap," that kill the rodent instantly when it's triggered.

Are mouse traps effective? Do-it-yourself options work better for smaller invasions, while pest control companies may combine exclusion (sealing entry points to prevent mice from entering your home) with more extensive trap options. 

Snap traps. These classic traps are the most common and perhaps the most affordable type of trap. They can be made of wood, metal, or plastic and feature a spring-loaded metal band that snaps when triggered. This kills the rodent instantly and allows you to safely dispose of both the trap and the dead animal.

Glue traps. Most experts agree that glue traps are inhumane. The glue provides a sticky surface that traps the offending rodents, but it’s not just mice that get stuck. Birds, insects, snakes, and many more beneficial and non-threatening animals are often distressed, harmed, or killed slowly over a matter of days by glue traps. 

Because glue traps don't instantly kill the trapped animal, the mouse will urinate and defecate on the glue surface. This allows diseases to spread.

Poison traps. Rodenticides are specific poisons formulated to target rodent infestations. These are most often sold in pellet form and dispensed from bait stations. Chemicals such as bromethalin and diphacinone can be used by consumers, while other rodenticides should be applied by pest control professionals.

If possible, save poison as a last resort. Other animals, including pets, are at risk of poisoning by these traps in the home. As a general rule, you shouldn't use poison bait in homes with small children.

Live traps. If you love animals, you may ask "are mouse traps humane?" You might even purchase a live mouse trap that does not harm the mouse at all. In general, live traps aren’t a good idea if you have more than one mouse in your home. Like glue traps, they allow the trapped mice to urinate and possibly spread viruses and bacteria. Additionally, you might have a difficult time completely eliminating your house mice if you release them close to your home.

Electronic traps. You might have never heard of this type of trap, but don’t let that stop you from trying it out. These are small, battery-powered boxes that contain a bait station and a metal plate. When triggered, the trap delivers a powerful shock to the mouse and kills it instantly. This type of trap is a humane option and is often preferred to snap traps for its efficiency and lack of mess.

Mice like to make their nests in secluded areas of your home. You might find them in your attic, basement, crawl space, or even in your walls. They prefer to come out at night to look for food. If you’re laying traps, experts recommend placing them along the wall instead of in the middle of the floor, as mice don't like to be in open spaces.

If you’ve never had a house mouse problem before, you might overlook the signs or simply mistake them for a temporary issue. Here are some issues you might notice around the home during an infestation:

  • Small black droppings clustered in areas they live and breed
  • Gnaw marks on baseboards, boxes, or items around the home
  • A musky smell
  • Scratching sounds in the walls

When mice find shelter and a food source, they will quickly start procreating and won’t leave until they’re forcibly removed. Mice are small and can easily enter residential properties through the foundation, attic, basement, or crawl space. Once inside, they breed quickly and can take over the space. A mature female mouse can give birth to up to 60 pups in a year, and their pups will reach maturity in only a few months.  

Mice may be cute, but they can seriously affect your health. Don’t let a small problem turn into a bigger one — do your best to seal entry points in your home and lay non-toxic traps around the interior walls of your home.

Viruses and bacteria. Mice can carry viruses that affect humans. Many types of mice carry hantaviruses that cause a disease called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. This condition affects your breathing, causes high fevers and muscle aches, and can be fatal. Mice also carry bacteria, like Salmonella and Francisella tularensis, that can make people ill.

Fires and property damage. Mice gnaw on household objects, including books, boxes, insulation, and wall wirings. This can lead to extensive property damage and create fire hazards if not addressed as soon as possible.

Any disease you contract from house mice needs treatment from a medical professional. Don’t try to treat a severe bacterial or viral infection at home if you've recently come into contact with rodents in your house. Visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and prompt medical attention.

It might not be possible to permanently get rid of the mice around your property, especially if you live in a rural area. Experts recommend using exclusion tactics, placing safe traps, and allowing natural predators to thrive in the area. 

Barn owls, specifically, love to eat mice and are a great addition to rural properties. You can encourage them to stay nearby by creating or purchasing a nesting box for future generations. Adopting a cat is another good option for homeowners who aren’t allergic.

If you’ve spotted mouse droppings or noticed the characteristic damage of cords, baseboards, or food boxes in your pantry, don’t wait to start your mouse-proof plan today. First, learn how to use a mouse trap and install several traps near the damage. Find entry points, seal your home, and get in touch with a professional, if necessary, to completely remove mice from your home.

Show Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Facts About Hantaviruses,” “Trap Up!”
Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management: “House Mouse Damage Identification.”
Public Health — Seattle & King County: “Diseases from rodents, pocket pets and rabbits.”
Safe Rodent Control: “Rodent Control Strategies.”
University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: “House Mouse.”
The Wildlife Center of Virginia: “The Dangers of Glue Traps.”
Wildlife Damage Management: “Rodent Exclusion Methods.”

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