Peanut Butter Mouse Trap Not Working (5 Other Options)

Disney movies have changed the image of mice from annoying household pests to cuddly little critters. It's true that mice are not as aggressive as rats, and they usually don't bite people unless they feel threatened. However, a mice infestation in your house can be nerve-racking. They can cause structural damage by gnawing on just about anything they deem useful for building their nests. 

Perhaps you've tried catching a mouse with little to no success? You're not alone. Many homeowners rely on mouse traps to get rid of mice from their homes. But mice are pretty cautious creatures, and there's a good chance they'll lick off the peanut butter, leaving you with a clean trap and no mouse to show for it.

Here are several reasons why your peanut butter mouse trap is not working.

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6 Reasons Your Peanut Butter Mouse Trap Not Working

To get rid of mice, all you need to do is set the mouse trap and use an effective bait to lure the invader, right? Yet, mice have been eating the bait without setting off the trap, leaving you stroking your chin. Here are common reasons why mice steal your bait repeatedly.

Using The Wrong Bait

Cartoons have made us believe that mice are insanely attracted to cheese. Yet, that is inaccurate. Technically, mice are omnivorous, and they'll eat just about anything. But they mostly prefer treats that are high in carbohydrates. Cheese is also an ineffective bait because mice can steal small bits of it without even triggering the trap.

Avoid using cheese or heavy, solid foods like a piece of meat. Their scent may lure mice in some cases, but they're easy for mice to remove without getting caught in the trap. Peanut butter is one of the most effective baits you can use on a mouse trap.

Peanut butter is made from nuts, which are rodents' favorite food in the wild. On top of that, peanut butter has a sticky consistency, meaning that mice can't take it off the trap and run away. Instead, they'll have to eat it on the trap itself and are highly likely to get caught. Alternatively, you can use the following baits on your mouse trap: 

  • Hazelnut spread. Like peanut butter, hazelnut spread is also a byproduct of nuts
  • Cooked rice. Some homeowners smash cooked rice into the latch of the trap. This bait can yield better results because the mice will have to nibble the grains instead of licking them. 
  • Chocolate. Mice crave calories. Hence, you can use chocolate to entice them to your trap.
  • Nesting material as bait. Mice are attracted to nesting material like string and cotton especially during cold seasons.
  • You can also purchase pre-baited traps online

Handling Bait Without Gloves

Mice have a high sense of smell. In fact, recent research found that mice can inherit learned sensitivity to a smell. This means that if a mouse learns to become afraid of a certain odor, for instance, human smell, his/her pups will even be more sensitive to that odor. If you apply the bait to the trap with bare hands, mice can easily detect your smell, and they will avoid it.

To avoid contaminating baits with human smell, you should wear gloves when handling mouse traps. Consider wearing thick gloves to protect your fingers in case they get accidentally snapped in the trap. You must also wear gloves when handling dead rodents, as they, too, can transmit diseases.

Using Excess Bait

Mice are highly intelligent pests, which makes them challenging to control. If you think putting a lot of peanut butter on the trap will attract mice more effectively, you should think again. When you use too much bait, mice will easily steal or eat the bait while being careful not to trigger the trap. Ideally, you're just providing the rodents with enough food to sate their appetite, making the invasion even worse.

You want to use a small amount that is just enough to lure the mouse to the trap. A pea-sized amount will force the rodent to step on the trap to feed, making it easier to trigger and set the trap off.

Other Pests Stealing Your Bait

One of the most likely reasons your peanut butter mouse trap is not working is that other pests are stealing the bait. As it turns out, peanut butter is highly attractive to most pests. That's because it consists of fats and proteins, the two ingredients that attract common household pests. Some pests attracted to the luring smell and taste of peanuts include Nuisance pests like cockroaches, ants, slugs, rats, and small wildlife like squirrels.

A mouse infestation is not controlled in the same way as a rat infestation. For starters, rats are bigger and heavier than mice. This means that mice traps may be too small for rats, allowing them to easily steal the bait without getting caught. Hence, you must inspect your home to ascertain that you're controlling a mice infestation, then use a trap designed specifically for mice. Often, it's best to have a pest control professional treat the infestation.

Setting the Mouse Trap in The Wrong Place

Although mice are bold, risk-taking fellas, they prefer to limit their activities in the darkest corridors, crawl spaces, air ducts, and wall cavities. Mice don't stay in the open, and you'll rarely see them running through the middle of your house. If you set your peanut butter mouse trap in an open space, you're unlikely to catch any mice. Instead, the bait will attract other opportunist pests like ants and roaches.

You'll have to position your mouse trap strategically around the house. Put the trap in places where mice are likely to pass by, especially along the walls and dark corners of the room, like under the bed and behind large furniture. Generally, you should set the mice traps 2-5 feet away from each other. However, you can use more traps in places with high rodent activity to increase your chances of trapping the unwelcome guests.

Using The Wrong Type of Trap

This is a common reason for the peanut butter mouse trap not working. There are many types of mouse traps available online or at your local hardware store, some of which are more effective than others. Unless you're a trained professional, it can be difficult to determine which type of trap is most effective for the mice species causing you trouble.

The best thing to do is try different kinds of traps to see which one works effectively for you. But you want to ensure that the trap you're using is specifically designed for mice. That's because traps are designed for rats' bigger bodies, making it easy for mice to escape. 

Simple Ways to Improve the Efficacy of Your Mouse Trap

Now that you know the most common reasons why your peanut butter mouse trap is not working, here are 5 tips to improve your mouse traps.

Make The Mice Comfortable First

Mice are intelligent creatures that excel at learning and understanding things. Their sense of smell is also superb, allowing them to detect a new food source and sense danger. Mice are likely to avoid your trap for the first few days. So the smart thing to do is to position an unset trap in mice activity areas, so they can get used to feeding on it.

After some time, the mice will get used to feeding on your bait, and you can start setting the trap to catch them. Note that this method may not solve your mice problem. Sure, a few inferior mice might be trapped, but alpha mice are more cautious and will avoid the trap. You might want to contact a professional pest control company to eliminate your rat problem.

Change The Baits Regularly

Leaving bait on the trap for too long can affect its effectiveness. Remember that rodents are attracted to the smell of the bait they want to feed on. The smell of old or rotten bait may not be as attractive to mice. Besides, mice may also not be interested in your bait once they realize it's too old.

If you're controlling a serious mice infestation, you must replenish your bait often to keep up with the demand. However, if you're dealing with the occasional mouse, you need to change your bait at least once per week to keep fresh and avoid it from becoming stale.

Place The Bait On the Trigger Mechanism

Where you place your bait depends on the type of mouse trap you're using. If you're using the standard spring action kill mouse trap, you should place a small bait on the trigger mechanism. If you look carefully, you'll see the short metal spikes on the trigger for holding solid baits. Ensure the bait is stuck or held securely so the mouse cannot take it without setting off the trap.

When using an electronic or humane mouse trap, you should place the bait as far inside the trap as possible. For these traps to work, the mouse must enter far enough to complete the electric circuit or trigger a mechanism that closes the door and prevents escape. If the mouse can reach the bait without entering as far into the trap, it will simply steal the bait and run away.

Set Many Mouse Traps Close Together

Mice move like lighting and can easily escape your trap. Sometimes, your trap may snap the leg or tail of the mouse, and it will drag the trap away with it. Besides waking up in the morning to no trap, you can also wake up to find just a body part in the trap and the rest of the mouse gone. The most effective strategy is to control mice using many traps close together. If the first trap doesn't catch the mouse, it will confidently leap onto the next trap with its full body.

Do Not Do It Yourself

With the above techniques, your peanut butter mouse trap can catch a mouse or two. But that is a temporary solution to your mouse problem. Mice reproduce fast, with an adult producing 6-7 babies every 21 days. Hence, a homeowner may not realize how severe an infestation is. The only effective way to get rid of a mice infestation in your home is to call a trained pest controller to inspect and customize an efficient pest control plan for your home or business.

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