We've caught 6 or so mice using the classic snap traps. Being frugal, we tried washing and re-using the traps. We're getting mixed results.

The mice are clearly nibbling the food (peanut butter, cheese) and escaping the traps. The only thing we can identify that is different is trap re-use. Or is there something else going on?

Note: We are and will remain a no-cats home.


9 Answers 9


Mouse and rat traps work better with time. Speaking to a pest control guy he indicated that the traps originally smell very foreign to mice and rats. Last time I had to trap rats I put baited but unset traps out so the traps would pick up the body oils of the rodents. The next day, after the bait was gone, I put bait on (stale bread covered in peanut butter, really jammed on there) and set them. I caught three rats in one day, using the same traps back to back. Priming them without being set and reusing them apparently increases their catching ability. I can attest that this works with rats: I caught 16 rats in three weeks using the same trap.

  • Wow! All of these suggestions are great and so much appreciated! This one about "priming" is something we'll try with our next new trap or traps. The earlier caution about using plastic bags and gloves to avoid touching the associated filth is always a good reminder. (An excellent use for old newspaper bags.)
    – RJo
    Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 20:20

It's unlikely to be a major issue with reused traps. Just check that there's not a little rust or something developed that is causing them to stick.

You could try a square of chocolate as the bait. If you heat the pin on the trigger platform, you can push the chocolate on and it's stuck there. That makes it harder for the mice to get away with the bait.


I have personally moved to the "plastic cheese" traps and use them with no bait (other than the supposed, and probably fictional IMHO, "odor in the plastic."

They have a large target area and a trigger of adjustable sensitivity - if it gets stepped on, it gets tripped. I reuse them without undue care (I do leave them out in the weather for a while if they are covered in mouse-blood - if they get a clean kill, I just remove the mouse with a plastic bag or gloves, and re-set it.)

I place them in likely looking spots, and sometimes arrange barriers to guide mouse traffic into them - and I'll use multiples in one location.

Any baited trap will, unfortunately, select for smart, hungry mice.

The last mouse I removed (Sunday night) was in a 2-year old (at least) trap that has caught 6 or more mice in the past 4 months, and is somewhat rusty, with weathered wood (it's had the weather treatment a few times.) The rust does not seem to affect its function, though I'm sure that the spring will break eventually.


I believe it comes down to smell, that of you and dead mouse. Sanitize them over the stove for a few seconds. Ecnerwal's 'weathering' technique probably works just as well or better.

Mice have a very keen sense of smell. If they start to avoid traps, it could be because they sense a human smell around the trap. That is why it is always best to wear gloves when handling mouse traps. You also need to clean mouse traps thoroughly.

This is one reason why some people think mice are very smart, and can work out that Victor mouse traps are dangerous things for them. It’s actually more likely that they sense the build up of the smell of death on the trap, or the build up of a human smell through repeated handling. They will likely not know that the trap can kill them, just that a dead mouse was there, or that a human was there, and they would rather not be there. -Are mice smart enough to avoid traps? -pest-control-products.net

  • Gloves and/or a plastic bag are also important to keep your personal contact with dead mouse to a minimum.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 23:58

I had the same trouble with the classic snap traps: a blob of peanut butter would just get licked away. My solution was to add a tube of tape around the trigger and bait, so that it was tough to get all the peanut butter; that way the mouse would end up tugging and chewing, and snappo.


Smashing a raisin down, onto the trigger plate of regular, wooden, snap traps is a great way to get the mice to commit. They can't easily remove the bait without engaging the trap.

  • In no way does this answer the question.
    – Rob
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 12:45
  • @Rob I would say that it does answer the question "in some way" but is missing a simple hypothesis about what is happening. For example, simply adding: "Trap reuse shouldn't affect it's operation over the short term. It sounds like you have one or more mice that are slightly smarter than average (for mice) and have figured out how to get the food without triggering the trap. Try smashing a raisin down..."
    – kinar
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 13:40

We had a similar experience and it turned out that unfortunately we had mice and rats! A rat can trip a mouse trap and escape unharmed because they are significantly larger. You might try a couple of the large rat traps with peanut butter as well. You could also try placing the mouse traps in the center of a glue board. They would get stuck when trying to escape.

Good luck!


I had a problem with mice licking peanutbutter out of trap without settling it off! Then a guy told me raw bacon because they Have to tug on it! Worked awesome got rid them in no time! It's been over 10 years and no problems!

  • 1
    Can you elaborate on how you set the trap with raw bacon? Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 13:15

Just FYI if you want to catch mice 100% or close to it then you need to lay out glue traps or very elaborate door traps. Anything else gives the mouse a chance.

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