While cartoons would have us believe catching a mouse is as easy as tying cheese to the end of a trap, it’s a bit more complicated than that. In reality, cheese is actually one of the least effective baits to attract mice and may even be counterproductive over time.

More effective baits may include peanut butter, seeds, nuts, marshmallows, and pet food. These household items may, in fact, be the very baits attracting them to your pantry in the first place.

But baits are actually one of the least important things you have to worry about when setting up a mouse trap.

Here are five common mouse trap mistakes we commonly witness our Baltimore and surrounding Maryland area clients commit and a guide on how to catch a mouse when traps don’t work any longer.


lure mice to traps is by using sweet or fatty foods

5 Common Mouse Trap Mistakes

Mouse traps are not only tricky, but they can be somewhat dangerous. Therefore, it’s prudent to avoid these five mouse trap mistakes when trying to catch Maryland rodents.

1. Using the Wrong Bait

Experimenting with a variety of different baits can be helpful in determining what seems to be working and what isn’t, as mice can be drawn to different foods. Peanut butter, hazelnut spread, and meat are excellent mouse baits that are high in carbohydrates and tasty to mice.

However, a bigger concern than what kind of bait to use is how much of it.

2. Adding Too Much Bait

You may think that putting a large helping of bait on your mouse traps will entice the rodents in your home, but it can actually have the opposite effect. Using too much bait can allow mice to feast on the food without actually triggering the mouse trap.

To prevent this from happening, start out with a pea-sized amount of bait and check the traps in a few days to see if you used an adequate amount. Adjust the amount until your traps are working at a nearly 100% success rate.

3. Using Your Bare Hands to Set Up Traps

Many people don’t know this, but when setting up mouse traps, you must wear gloves. Mice have a strong sense of smell, and if they detect that a human has been handling the traps you have laid out, they will likely avoid them.

Before setting any traps in your home, pick up a box of food prep or dishwashing gloves. Be sure to also wear gloves when handling a trap after a mouse has been caught to protect yourself from disease.

4. Not Enough Traps

Another common mistake many homeowners make when dealing with a mouse infestation is not setting up enough traps. To increase your chances of catching the mice in your home, you’ll want to set out a lot of traps the first-night using different kinds of bait.

Because mice are very intelligent, they will be able to outsmart certain traps. They may even be hesitant to approach the bait you have laid out, so placing many different traps throughout your home will increase your odds of catching these pests.

5. Incorrect Positioning

When placing mouse traps, you will want to pay attention to where you are positioning them. Mice will rarely venture out into an open space and instead prefer to travel along walls and cabinets, so be sure to place your traps in these areas.

You should also make sure you are placing your traps at the correct angle, as the openings to the traps should not be obstructed and should allow easy access for mice to enter.

How to Catch a Mouse Without a Trap

If you don’t have access to mouse traps or would prefer not to use them, here are a few methods to try:

  • Use essential oils to drive mice away: Peppermint, citronella, and eucalyptus work fine.
  • Place bay leaves around your home: Mice cannot feed on them without choking; just be weary of pets consuming them.
  • Use cat litter to scare mice away: Cats are natural predators on their own so the smell of their litter will work if you don’t have cats.
  • Build your own mouse trap: This may be better for a science project, but there are simple ways to construct a mouse trap using soda bottles and a few household items. The advantage of this approach is that it’s humane, and you can catch and release the mouse back into the wild.

When Should I Call an Exterminator for Mice?

You should call an exterminator for mice at the first sign of a mouse infestation. Due to how quickly mice reproduce and how good they are at hiding, you’ll want to enlist the help of an experienced exterminator to get rid of these pests for good.

While mouse traps are the most effective form of treatment and prevention, there are several ways to get rid of a mouse without the use of traps. Your pest control expert will walk you through these tips and help you set up traps that work most effectively in your home.

Pest Czar’s monthly maintenance program, Czar Guard, helps protect against mice and over 40 different species of pests, so you can enjoy better peace of mind.


How do you catch a mouse too smart for traps?

If the mice in your home are proving to be more clever than you thought, there are a few things you can do. Studying their behavior over a period of time can help you pick up on their patterns to determine the best way to catch them. For example, if the mice in your home are avoiding the snap traps you’ve laid out, try something more discreet, like glue traps. You can also try putting less bait on the traps, as putting too much bait can allow the mice to eat the bait off the traps without actually triggering them.

What time are mice most active?

Since mice are nocturnal creatures, they are typically most active from dusk until dawn. Mice don’t like bright lights, so they will usually avoid coming out during the day unless they are seeking food or their nest has been disturbed.

What will attract mice most to my trap?

The best way to lure mice to traps is by using sweet or fatty foods, such as cheese or peanut butter. Hazelnut spread, or marshmallows are also great options, and you can even sprinkle a little extra sugar on top for added pest control power.