Buying a Better Mousetrap

We’re almost to late October, and you know what that means: peak mouse trapping season is upon us. Now that I’ve lived in an old farmhouse for over a decade, this is far from my first rodeo. If there’s a mouse-controlling device out there, I’ve bought it and tried it out. And seeing as how some of you might be newer to the mousing scene, I thought it might be helpful to some of you for me to give a quick run down of the various mouse traps out there, and which one gets the official Bryce Seal of Approval.

Ye Olde Classic–You know the one I’m talking about. Wooden trap. Metal coil. Something Bugs Bunny might try to trick Elmer Fudd with. These traps are fine and all. They’re certainly cheap, and when they work, they work. (Sometimes a little too well. I’ve had mice that pretty much got cut in half by one of these. Speaking from experience, that’s not a situation you want. Cleaning up two halves of a mouse is not a fun prospect.) Messiness aside, I don’t like this style for three other reasons. First is reusability. Once you’ve caught a mouse, you have to get fairly handsy with that corpse to get the mouse out and reset the trap. Second, actually setting the trap is a trick and a half. There’s a fair chance you’re going to snap it on yourself once or twice before you actually get it done right. Third, there tends to be a lot of false alarms with this style. Mice seem to be able to navigate the trap well enough without actually getting caught.

Glue Traps–This style fails on many different levels. First of all, it just seems cruel to me. I don’t like mice, but I don’t quite like them to the level of “glue them to the floor and let them starve to death or die of thirst.” Also, sometimes the critter doesn’t fully get on the trap, and instead it takes the glue trap on a trip around the house. This is less than ideal. Finally, the glue just picks up all sorts of nastiness over time. Yuck. Pass.

Poison–Again, it’s pretty cruel, but there are times when poison’s the only thing I’ve figured out that’ll work. (Less so now that I have a dog. Poison’s pretty much out for me at this point . . . ) But even if you don’t have a pooch to look out for, poison just generally means the mouse dies in the floor or the wall, and then you’ve got to smell if for a long time afterward. Not fun. Pass.

Noise Deterrents–These are plug in things that supposedly make it so mice don’t want to go anywhere near where they can hear the noise. They can work . . . fine. But they only work for where the noise can get, and I haven’t had a huge success rate. They’re fine as a first defense, but I wouldn’t rely on them for all my mouse warfare needs.

Dryer sheets–I swear. People seem to think dryer sheets work for everything. Like mice will smell them and then go running for the hills. I have had no success with dryer sheets for anything other than keeping clothes fluffy in the dryer.

Electronic Traps–The concept seems sound at first blush. Mice go in and get zapped by a battery powered zapper. And these do indeed kill mice. But they also get really gunky over time. The batteries need to be changed. Getting rid of the mice can be a pain, as well. They brag about how they’re enclosed, so you don’t have to see the dead mouse, but . . . that kind of goes with the territory of mouse trapping. Sooner or later, you have to see the beady eyes. These are expensive, and I don’t see the point. Pass.

Have-a-Heart Traps–These take the “trap” part too literally. I want to kill the mouse, not take it on a trip in my car. What is this? A mouse game show? The rodent has infested my house, and instead of making an example of it, I end up giving it a free meal and a trip to an exotic location, where it can proceed to do what mice do best: make more mice. No thanks. If mice didn’t want to die, they shouldn’t have come into my house.

Guillotine Style Traps–They don’t actually cut the critter’s head off, but they come close. They also don’t work for beans. I have yet to catch a mouse with one of these, probably because mice see them and are scared to death.

Board Games–Is that what this is to you? A joke? We’re here to kill mice, son. Not build complex Rube Golberg machines.

Amazon’s Recommended Style–These work okay, over all. I’ve successfully used them to kill multiple mice with the same trap over time, but they don’t have the staying power to last season after season. Once you’ve caught and killed five mice with one trap, the trap mechanism seems to wear out, and you have to get a new trap. They’re fine, and they do the job without being too messy. They’re also easy to reset. They’re easily my second favorite trap, but they’re not my pick for number one.

My Number One–Now we’re talking. These traps win on so many different levels. First off, they’re very reusable. I’ve got one trap that’s caught four mice over six days right now. (It’s a bad year for mice, it seems? At least in my house at the moment.) Better yet, you can just stick a raisin in the bait spot, and the mice almost never successfully get the raisin, so you never have to put new bait in. You can set it and unset it with just one hand, leaving your other clean hand free to open doors and maneuver in and out of the house. You can reset it with your foot, so if it goes off and misses the mouse, you don’t have to worry about getting your hands dirty again. They’re just very, very good traps. And they’re cheap.

So there you have it. My recommendation for the best mouse killing machine, speaking from years of practice. If you have more questions, I’m happy to answer them. Good luck in your mouse hunting endeavors, and may the odds be ever in your favor.


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