The Best Mousetrap | Reviews by Wirecutter

2022-09-10 14:01:20 By : Ms. Aimee Chow

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After another round of research, we stand by our picks, and are conducting additional tests on the Victor Smart-Kill Wi-Fi Electronic Mouse Trap as well as other competitors’ designs.

After more than 18 hours of research and interviews with industry experts, and a combined eight hours of baiting, setting, and detonating mousetraps, we are confident that the Tomcat Press ‘N Set Mouse Trap is the proverbial “better” mousetrap. It’s easier to set than the competition without hurting your fingers and easier to empty without touching a dead mouse—and it traps mice just as well as anything else we tested.

Effective, inexpensive, and easier to bait, set, and discharge than competitors, the Tomcat stands out as the proverbial “better” mousetrap.

With a powerful snap, mouse-grabbing teeth that remind us of the Monster Book of Monsters in Harry Potter, and a sensitive trigger, this simple, inexpensive trap did its mouse killing job just as well as more traditionally designed traps. It’s small, discreet, and so inexpensive that you can buy bagfuls at a time without hesitation, yet just as effective as bulkier gadgets that cost far more money.

This iconic trap isn’t as easy to set up and discharge as our pick, but it’s effective and inexpensive enough to buy in bulk and toss out after a catch.

The Victor does a fine job killing mice, but is trickier to set up than our top pick and doesn’t make it as easy to discharge a dead mouse without touching the body. That means it isn’t as easily reusable, but it’s also cheap enough to throw away along with a dead rodent—and that adds up to some savings when you need to buy a lot of them.

Effective, inexpensive, and easier to bait, set, and discharge than competitors, the Tomcat stands out as the proverbial “better” mousetrap.

This iconic trap isn’t as easy to set up and discharge as our pick, but it’s effective and inexpensive enough to buy in bulk and toss out after a catch.

In my lifetime I’ve dealt with mild-to-moderate mouse problems in two houses and a studio apartment in Madison, Wisconsin, and a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, New York. In those instances, I relied on the classic wood-and-wire snap traps, as well as a catch-and-release trap. Also, I’m descended from three generations of butchers, who taught me the value of a quick and clean kill, so I’m no stranger to this kind of thing.

To write this piece, I consulted Shawn Woods, a mousetrap enthusiast whose weekly video series, Mousetrap Monday, shows him testing all kinds of mousetraps. He covers how to set them up and their successes and failures, as documented by an infrared motion camera in his Oregon barn. Woods has over a million subscribers, and like Wirecutter, makes money from traps purchased through affiliate links on his videos, but he’s not shy about explaining exactly why he likes and dislikes certain traps. He rarely gets freebies from trap companies, and he told me that he spent about $10,000 on traps in 2017.

I’m descended from three generations of butchers, who taught me the value of a quick and clean kill, so I’m no stranger to this kind of thing.

I also spoke with Matt Frye, PhD, who studied entomology before becoming an extension educator for Cornell University and New York State Integrated Pest Management; Maxwell Ryan, the CEO and founder of Apartment Therapy, who has tested mousetraps aplenty for the site’s annual roundup; Ashley Brown, a senior marketing and product-development manager at Victor/Woodstream; and Nick Olynyk, the founder of Grandpa Gus’s Rodent Control.

I read dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles to dive into the science of pest management, as well as a few chapters of Rodent Control: A Practical Guide For Pest Management Professionals. This book—written by Robert Corrigan, PhD, who’s studied rodents enough to earn himself the title of Rat Czar—is the gold standard in the industry, and it supplied many wonderful details that helped frame this piece.

This guide is for someone who wants to deal with a one-off or recurring mouse infestation on their own before consulting the professionals. I realize nobody wants to kill mice—and I considered several no-kill traps in this research—but my reporting led conclusively to traps that do kill the mice. Live-catch traps have a tendency to become lethal if they aren’t dealt with quickly leading the captive mice to die of stress or hunger if left untended, even just overnight. If you are able to transport the captured mouse before they perish they would need to be relocated more than a quarter mile away from your home to keep them from returning, which is inconvenient and in some states illegal. You can read more about the problems we have with no-kill traps below.

Multiple experts told me the same thing: If you see one mouse, you probably have more, because they usually come out only at night. They also reproduce quickly—one female mouse can give birth to about 10 litters, or 60 mice, per year—so it’s best to head them off before they make a nest and have babies. Mice often spread pathogens like hantavirus and salmonella that are harmful to humans. They also carry parasites, such as mites, ticks, botfly larvae, and fleas—the latter of which once shut down a Baltimore polling place. Lastly, mice are not toilet trained. So if they’re in your home, chances are they’ve been peeing and pooping on everything in their path, which is unsanitary.

The traps we discuss here are meant for mice, not rats, which are much larger and would likely only be injured by a mousetrap, potentially creating even more problems. If you have a rat problem, you’ll need larger traps designed for bigger rodents, and it’d be worth your time to contact an exterminator too.

Rodent problems are universal, said Woods, who gets thousands of emails a week from people all over the world, either to suggest new types of traps for him to test or to get help with mice infestations of their own.

Apartment Therapy’s Ryan said he thinks mice bother people so much because it feels like an invasion of your most intimate, safe place. “Mousetraps were very personal for me,” he said. “I lived in the West Village for many years and I had a lot of mouse issues. It was a small apartment, and my bed was on the floor, so they were physically very close to me. I had a lot of sleepless nights listening to them come and go.”

I started by learning everything I could about mice and mousetraps. I looked at the top results on Amazon, Google Shopping, and retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s. I read countless owner reviews and forum posts online to find common problems among the different types of traps—from the ubiquitous snap trap to the more obscure (and often gruesome) varieties like the rolling log, which I discuss more in The competition.

I asked the experts about their favorite traps, and their criteria for a good trap. I also talked to about a dozen Wirecutter staffers—spanning many age, geographic, and socioeconomic demographics—about their past experiences with mice. The experts and I delved into details like how to bait and set a mousetrap, how to prevent mice from entering your home in the first place, and, of course: Why not just get a cat?

A good mousetrap should be reliable, consistent, and effective. It should be humane—not necessarily a no-kill trap, but one that makes a quick, clean kill that minimizes the animal’s trauma and suffering. It should be able to kill many mice in a night—so, either a multi-catch trap or a single-catch trap that’s small and cheap enough to buy in bulk—to nip the infestation in the bud. It should be affordable, or else able to be used over and over to offset the cost. It should not be overly gory or unsanitary to clean up. It should be small and compact, self-contained, and nontoxic to kids and pets.

Applying this criteria left a list of 12 traps to test: the Catcha 2-Piece Humane Smart Mouse Trap, the Smart Mouse Trap Humane Mouse Trap, the Intruder The Better Mouse Trap, the Tomcat Press ‘N Set Mouse Trap, The Country Porch’s Sliding Tube Mouse Trap, the Kness Snap-E Mouse Trap, as well as the Tin Cat Mouse Trap with Window, Electronic Mouse Trap, Multi-Kill Electronic Mouse Trap, Smart-Kill Wi-Fi Electronic Mouse Trap, Easy Set Mouse Trap, and Original Mouse Trap from Victor/Woodstream. I also tried Grandpa Gus’s Pest Control’s spray and pouches, but I didn’t consider them against the traps because they’re in a different category entirely; we discuss them in our section on mouse deterrents.

Then I bought the traps online, bought peanut butter and Nutella for bait, and looked into gloves. I already had disposable gloves at home, but if you don’t, I learned that a nitrile pair like those recommended in Wirecutter’s guide to gardening gloves will work, as will rubber kitchen gloves that you can easily clean after handling mice or traps. (This is also supposed to help keep your human scent off the traps, though Corrigan’s book says that should wear off after a few hours anyway.)

Though rodent behavior is somewhat predictable, we didn’t conduct a true scientific comparison test of mouse catching efficacy. Without a controlled population of mice at home to work with, I realized that even if one of our traps managed to catch more mice than the others, it wouldn’t mean that those traps were necessarily better, just that they were in the right place at the right time. Rather, we baited, set, triggered, and cleaned up each of the traps twice—once with Nutella and once with peanut butter—over the course of a week, making detailed observations of how each one felt to use. I tested any extra features, such as Wi-Fi capabilities, independently. I watched videos of other people setting off the same traps, just in case I was missing anything in my own tests. I also heavily relied on what my sources—most of whom catch mice on a regular basis, or work closely with people who do—shared with me.

Effective, inexpensive, and easier to bait, set, and discharge than competitors, the Tomcat stands out as the proverbial “better” mousetrap.

In our testing, the Tomcat Press ‘N Set Mouse Trap stood out above the rest. Like many traps, it’s powerful and sensitive enough to catch and kill mice effectively—but what sets the Tomcat apart is a design that makes it easier than competitors to set without snapping your fingers, it’s easier to empty without touching a dead mouse, and (as one of the least expensive traps we tested) it’s one of the most affordable to buy and use in a high enough quantity to head off your mouse problem.

This trap had one of the most powerful snaps of any we tested. You can see in Woods’s video how the trap actually lifts off the ground when killing a mouse. This is important because it means a quick, clean kill—which is not true for some traps that we tested, like the Intruder The Better Mouse Trap. The Tomcat has a similar baiting system to pretty much every snap trap: You put a little bait in a designated divot and wait for the mouse to try to lick it off, triggering the trap. But the Tomcat seemed more sensitive to touch compared with other snap traps we tried, lessening the likelihood that a mouse will lick all the bait off the trap without triggering it.

The build quality of the Press ‘N Set traps also impressed me—with a sturdy, thick plastic that seems difficult for a mouse to chew its way out of—and, as Woods points out in his video, the twin sets of “teeth” help grab onto and kill the mouse in one fell swoop “as it comes smashing down.” This wasn’t the only trap that experts noted was effective in quickly and humanely killing a mouse (although that dual-tooth detail is distinct), but in doing so, it met one of this guide’s most important criteria.

Despite its vicious appearance and snap, the Press ‘N Set is safe to use around kids and pets. The one-click setup makes it nearly impossible to snap your fingers on accident. If you do, it’s pretty harmless—Woods actually closes a Tomcat intentionally on his fingers in his video.

Although most traps I tested had a no-touch discharge system, this feature made the Press ‘N Set a clear standout above any trap that makes you handle a dead mouse. This way, you just grip the same lever used to set the trap, and drop the deceased animal into the trash. And because the trap is made of plastic you can easily wash and reuse it, making it more cost-effective and environmentally friendly—or, at least, better than throwing it away after a single use.

With all of the improvements this trap offers over other, more traditional models, I would have expected to pay a premium. But these traps usually go for about $5 for two, which is only about a dollar more than the cheapest traps we tested (our also-great pick) and cheaper than nearly every option in the Competition section. With hundreds of positive reviews, the Tomcat is regularly available online.

Price and availability are key factors when it comes to snap traps, because, as Frye told me, you should plan to buy about six snap traps per mouse—this increases the likelihood that the mouse will encounter a trap—and keep in mind that you may have more mice than you see during the day. To get the best results with the Tomcat (and, really, all snap traps) you should get a bunch of traps and set them up strategically around your home. Frye said you should place a few side by side—if the mouse sees one trap and tries to jump over it, you might still get it on the jump. This guide’s research turned up a lot more info about how to bait and set a trap, but the conclusion, as far as the Tomcat goes, is that not only is it effective as a single trap, its low price means it’s also effective at affordably solving the problem that got you reading this guide in the first place.

After using the Tomcat to keep multiple homes mice free for years since this guide was originally published, it remains a consistent and effective trap. We’ve also heard from readers, including Wirecutter’s former Editor in Chief, who agree that the trap gets the job done.

Wirecutter senior editor Harry Sawyers recently deployed a pair of Tomcats in a Los Angeles garage where mice had gotten into a surplus stash of dehydrated dog food. Sawyers baited the traps with a few bits of food and reports with a mix of shame and pride that he netted three mice in two nights. "I hope it's over," he said. He noted that the traps' easy one-handed operation made it possible to pick up the loaded trap, drop the catch into a plastic bag, all the while shielding his face with his free hand to avoid looking into the creature's still-open black eyes.

The primary complaint that I and some Amazon reviewers have is that the Tomcat is a little tricky to clean because of all its nooks and crannies. You really need to get in there with a cotton swab, or a strong blast of water, to get it completely free of peanut butter. But this isn’t a major problem because, as you can see at the end of Woods’ video, it’s such a clean kill that you might not have to extensively clean out the trap even between uses.

You can easily find other snap traps that will do the job for less, but the Tomcat’s powerful snap paired with the fact that it’s so easy to set up and discharge make it well worth spending the extra money.

This trap is not indestructible. After detonating several Tomcat traps dozens of times with a chopstick, I noticed that one of the traps started to have trouble functioning (you could still set it with no problem, but about half of the time it wouldn’t go off and I would have to reset it). Considering this happened to only one of the traps, and how inexpensive this trap is, I didn’t think it was a dealbreaker.

This iconic trap isn’t as easy to set up and discharge as our pick, but it’s effective and inexpensive enough to buy in bulk and toss out after a catch.

The Victor Easy Set Mouse Trap is one of the few traps that’s even cheaper than the Tomcat, and it’s even easier to find. It’s also less durable than the Tomcat, and it can’t be washed and reused as easily. But it works well, it’s pretty reliable, and if you prefer to just throw the trap away with the catch when you’re done, it won’t break the bank.

Both the Tomcat and the Easy Set can effectively and quickly kill a mouse, but the main reason we’d suggest the Tomcat first is the ease of setup. Whereas the Tomcat offers one of the most stress-free bait and setup procedures, the Easy Set leaves open the possibility that you can snap your finger under the wire. It makes my heart race a little just thinking about all the times I’ve accidentally done that (which isn’t terribly painful, but is worth avoiding). Watching some videos online revealed Frye’s nifty trick for setting the Easy Set—with a pencil!—and after that, I felt much more confident and sustained fewer injuries.

The Victor Easy Set costs about the same as the Victor Original, which is the best-selling wood-and-wire trap you see everywhere. Since the Victor Original was patented in 1903, there have been many variations on the design, and in choosing between them, the Easy Set offers some small advantages—for the same rock-bottom price. The main difference between the Easy Set and its predecessor is what’s called an expanded trigger—it looks like a bright yellow slice of Swiss cheese—which has been shown to be more effective (PDF) at catching mice. It also has two settings (sensitive and firm) to give you a little more control over the trigger, although I didn’t think this noticeably improved the trap’s function. And despite its name, I did not find the Easy Set any easier to set than the Original.

Among the negative reviews of the Easy Set, most people complain that the trigger is too sensitive to set easily, or that the traps spontaneously misfire when no mouse is present, or that they don’t go off at all. Although I do think that practicing and trying Frye’s aforementioned tips will help, it’s also very possible that—especially with something this cheap—you might get some defective units.

Believe me, I considered the ethical implications of killing mice while writing this guide. After all, mice are innocent creatures—they’re just going about their daily lives when they unwittingly trespass on your property, eat your food, and besmirch your belongings with tiny droppings.

But in the course of my research, I kept coming back to one major sticking point: Even if you manage to capture mice alive, chances are they won’t stay that way for long.

“The biggest problem I have with live-catch traps,” said Woods, “is that if you don't check them often they just turn into kill traps because the mice get stressed and die in there. And to me that’s worse, to suffer a slow death.” He added that sometimes when mice are confined in a no-kill trap, even just overnight, they “turn into cannibals.”

Furthermore, mice can return to their home from over a quarter-mile away, so to truly stop an infestation you’d need to transport your captured mice great distances. Not only is relocating mice illegal in many states, but it decreases their chance of survival. “I don’t know how humane that is either,” said Woods, “just putting them out in nature with a lot of new predators, with no food and no home.”

In comparison, an execution-style kill seems preferable. Especially when coupled with deterrent methods to keep more mice from entering in the future.

No guide to catching mice would be complete without discussing the most timeless mousetrap of all: A cat. There’s plenty of material online about what cat breeds and dispositions make the best hunters, and exactly how cats sniff out their prey. But I’m hesitant to recommend a cat as a primary course of action against mice. A 2016 study found that rodents hoard more food when they know a predator is near. This would make mice more difficult to catch, as they’d leave their nest less frequently, and a stockpile of food would eventually start to smell and attract bugs. If you do have a cat that hunts mice, be aware that they could catch a disease or parasite from their prey.

A lot of the people I talked to told me that they hate using sticky glue traps—flat trays or three-dimensional objects with a glue coating that the mice touch and get stuck to—but that they continue to use them because they’ve been successful when all other types have failed. Glue traps are relatively easy to set, don’t require bait, and are readily available.

But I still chose not to test them. I’ve heard too many stories about mice screaming from inside a trash can, starving to death, and chewing or ripping themselves free. In the latter instances, it’s not even doing the job it’s designed to do, which is to trap the mouse.

To this point, Cornell’s Frye told me that although glue traps do work well for cockroaches and other insects, “according to the research and literature, they’re actually not all that effective against mice.” He said this is because adult mice have “guard hairs” on their paws that can detect differences in texture. So when they feel the stickiness of a glue trap, they’ll avoid it. Because of this, he said, you might catch juvenile mice that haven’t yet developed these hairs, but you’ll rarely catch an adult mouse.

Woods has a video titled The Horrible Truth About Sticky Glue Tray Mouse Traps, which I don’t recommend watching if you’re squeamish. No mice are injured in the video, but it is traumatic.

No matter which way you slice it, these traps can’t be considered among the best options available. My hope is that the techniques described in the rest of this guide will help people get better results with other types of traps—and not feel like they have to resort to glue.

Some household rodent poisons—anticoagulants in particular—work better than others for mice, but none are completely safe to use around young kids and pets and some of the more effective ones aren’t easily available to nonprofessionals. Poison also introduces issues with the disposal of dead mice, which we talk about in the care and maintenance section, because animals that scavenge their carcasses will get sick. As Frye explains in this video, mice that consume poison often feel sick and can retreat to their nests before dying, creating a smelly problem inside your walls or near your home. Given the wide number of variables involved, and with so many good, affordable trap options available, we didn’t consider poisons for this review.

Frye and Corrigan are both members of a group called the Scientific Coalition of Pest Exclusion, which is dedicated to spreading awareness about how to exclude pests from homes and other buildings, as opposed to straight-up extermination. They have numerous resources to help architects, engineers (PDF), builders, landlords (PDF), and homeowners be more proactive about pest exclusion.

If you live in a house or apartment with mice, or that has had mice in the past, the biggest thing you can do to keep them from returning is to seal up gaps, cracks, and holes (the CDC has a good list of places to look for these). There are many ways of doing this, and the right method will depend on the size of the hole. In most cases, for pests, you’ll want to use a sealant (which is different than a sealer) containing siliconized acrylic latex or ethylene copolymers. While caulks pull away from the sides of a hole when they dry, sealants stick to every surface. They last up to three decades, can be painted and cleaned, and will maintain a seal in a wide range of temperatures and other environmental pressures. Caulk will not do this, nor will foam fillers. It’s also harder for mice to chew through a good sealant than a caulk or foam.

If you don’t feel comfortable using a sealant, or if your lease won’t allow it, you can also use steel wool to temporarily plug up holes through which you know mice are traveling. Because it’s made of metal, the mice can’t chew through it.

According to the CDC, it’s also a good idea to store food and pet food in sealed plastic or metal containers, clean up promptly after meals and spills, and keep compost, trash bins, bird feeders, and animal feed as far away from your home as possible.

Peppermint and essential oils have long been used as a natural mouse repellent. But Frye told me that no rigorous scientific studies have shown that they work. I have friends who swear by Grandpa Gus’s Potent Rodent Repellent—an elixir of peppermint essential oil, cinnamon essential oil, and water—and the Grandpa Gus’s Mouse Repellent pouches, which I was told by the company’s founder are designed to gradually release peppermint and cinnamon essential oils. The oils are supposed to cause a burning sensation in the mice’s nose, eyes, and mouth that won’t harm them but makes them stay away. I appreciate Grandpa Gus’s all-natural approach to exclusion, but after trying out these products myself I’m still not convinced they do anything more than make your home smell like Fireball Whisky and peppermint schnapps.

Victor has a line of indoor and outdoor scent repellents. Brown said a lot of Victor’s customers don’t buy repellents until they already have an infestation, which she said is too late. “You’re not going to be able to put out a repellent and make them flee their homes,” she said. “We recommend killing, then repelling.” Again, though, there’s no conclusive evidence that these repellents work.

Woods said that no ultrasonic mouse repellent he’s tried has worked at all: “The mice walked right up to it.” Seeing as they cost between $20 to $150, I’m comfortable taking his word for it that the technology is just not there yet on these types of devices.

As Ryan put it to me, “You’re not luring them to the bait, you’re just putting it in their way.” Mice like to go straight from their nest to a known source of food, taking the same path each time without deviating from it. They also prefer to be up against a wall for added protection. Knowing this, it’s best to place your traps right along your baseboards, in corners, and near holes and cracks where you’ve seen a mouse coming or going—or near evidence of mouse activity like bite marks and droppings. Placing some traps side by side can sometimes catch mice jumping past a trap, as Frye mentioned in our pick section, and he also suggests buying about six snap traps per mouse to increase your odds of getting a catch.

In terms of the best types of bait, everyone I talked to agreed that peanut butter and Nutella are the best—they’re both aromatic, high in fat and protein, easy to apply to traps, inexpensive, and they don’t dry up and harden as fast as cheese. Although I didn’t try it myself, Woods also swears by Tootsie Rolls because you can ball up little pieces of them and stick them to a trap, making the mouse work harder to get it off and (ideally) increasing your likelihood of catching the mouse. He said he also knows people who glue down their bait and traps to make them stay put.

Whatever you use, it’s crucial not to overbait your traps. A pea-sized amount will do. Otherwise the mouse will just lick a bunch off the edges, get full, and move on without setting off the trap.

Corrigan’s book says you can also bait traps with bits of twine or other materials that you know the mouse has been using to build its nest, which is something I’d never considered. Or, if they’ve been nibbling on a certain food in your pantry, it will make a great bait because they already have a taste for it. You can always put out multiple bait options simultaneously to see what the mice go for.

Woods’s ethos is: “There's a balance between a trap that works really well and how much you want to pay. Obviously there are a lot of traps that work really well, but cost more.” (He said one of the best he’s tested is a $200 trap made by a company in New Zealand that uses a CO2 canister to kill its prey, à la No Country For Old Men.) In our testing, we were looking for a sweet spot of high efficacy at the lowest price possible—especially keeping in mind that you’re going to need to buy so many of these. Here are the ones that didn’t make the cut.

Victor also makes a multi-kill version of this trap, which Woods said is one of his favorites because it’s an effective, quick kill and can catch up to 10 mice in a night. But you need to make sure to clean it out right away so it doesn’t start to smell, he says, “or the other mice won’t go near it.” It’s a lot bigger and bulkier than other traps we tested (there’s no hiding it from guests). Plus, like the single-kill version, it can’t get wet. And it’s even more expensive—almost $100 for one. We’re hoping that buying a significant quantity of our pick, the Tomcat Press ‘N Set, or the also-great Victor Easy Set will solve your mouse problem way before you reach $100 in mousetrap expenses.

The Victor Smart-Kill Wi-Fi Electronic Mouse Trap is essentially the same trap as the Victor Electronic Mouse Trap, but it has a complementary app that lets you remotely check whether you’ve caught a mouse. Because you should check your traps at least once per day, not having to do so in person would save time, in theory. But Victor, which launched the Smart-Kill in January 2018, still has a few bugs to work out. The first time I set up the trap at my co-worker’s apartment, it took several tries to connect it to Wi-Fi. After a few days, I got a notification that it had been disconnected, and I’m not sure why—it may have been our error. At my own apartment, I tried connecting the trap to Wi-Fi three times and it never worked. The app said it might be because I have two networks—one 2.4 GHz and one 5 GHz—with the same name. It seemed like more trouble than it was worth to switch the network names, so I tried setting it up at a local coffee shop, and it connected on the first try. The app has a nice front-end design and, when it works, it does what you need it to do. But for the same reasons that I don’t recommend the standard version, I don’t think the Smart-Kill is worth the premium cost—or the time you’ll likely spend working through the technological kinks. The only exception to this would be if you have mice in a hard-to-reach place, say an attic, in which case it might be worth the extra cash and setup time to be able to check your traps remotely, as long as you’re confident they won’t get wet.

The Country Porch’s Sliding Tube Mouse Trap has a simple design—pull the two ends apart, line up the holes, and wedge a piece of solid bait in the hole to prop it open—although it’s a little finicky to set it up. I also found that it was cumbersome to take it apart to wash, and I don’t relish the idea of doing so when there’s a dead mouse attached—the trap is small enough that you’d almost certainly have to touch the mouse. Plus, for about $5 per trap, it’s more expensive than our pick, and you can only buy it on The Country Porch’s website.

The Kness Snap-E Mouse Trap has a sturdy plastic body and a strong metal-and-plastic kill bar that produces a fierce snap. It’s easy to set up: You add bait to the circular bait cup, pull back on a metal bar (different than the kill bar, so it’s harder to snap your fingers than with Victor’s Easy Set or Original) and click it into place. I also liked that it’s possible to disarm the trap by nudging the plastic mechanism aside and gently lowering the kill bar, rather than having to set it off with a chopstick. However, this trap was tougher to set than the Tomcat Press ‘N Set, and has a slightly less sensitive trigger system. I also noticed that after a few uses the plastic mechanism had slid out of place, which makes me think it would have a short lifespan.

The Intruder The Better Mouse Trap is easy to bait and set, but compared with the Tomcat it has a weak-sauce snap—something that Woods also noted in his video review. I also thought its trigger was less sensitive than other, comparably priced snap traps. I wouldn’t buy it.

Woods told me that in his own home—and the homes of friends and family members who frequently request his services—he usually uses the Made2Catch Easy Use Mouse Trap – Super Sensitive, as well as a newer variation called the Made2Catch Easy Use Mouse Trap – New Generation. He likes them better than the classic Victor traps because they have a more sensitive trigger system, a powerful spring mechanism, and a little loop so you can secure them in place with a piece of string. “They tend to catch them right away,” he said. However, when I tried them myself I thought they seemed a little flimsier than the Tomcat Press ‘N Set, their snap was a little weaker, and I noticed that several of the “teeth” broke off after just a few detonations.

Before our reporting discouraged us from using no-kill traps, we selected three to test. Of those, the Victor Tin Cat Mouse Trap with Window was the best option, with a sturdy metal box design that mice won’t be able to chew their way out of. And the window lets you see when you’ve caught a mouse, which is imperative for minimizing the animal’s time inside the trap. The Tin Cat costs about $10 to $20 per trap, putting it at a huge disadvantage relative to our pick, but at least it’s sturdier than others of its type. A word of caution: Many no-kill traps can get very hot if left in direct sunlight, and I would imagine that this is especially true for the Tin Cat.

The Smart Mouse Trap Humane Mouse Trap wasn’t as sturdy as the Tin Cat even though it costs about the same. It’s made entirely of a thin plastic that I wouldn’t expect to survive more than a year of use. It was also kind of a pain to clean peanut butter out of the bait tray. But the trap’s mechanism seems effective enough to trap a single mouse, and the setup and discharge are a breeze. I also liked that it has plenty of breathing holes, which are a must for any no-kill trap.

There are tons of traps online that are identical to the Catcha 2-Piece Humane Smart Mouse Trap. I found that it was decently simple to bait and set, but Ryan told me he didn’t have much luck with it. And although Woods tested a copycat version, you can see in his video that mice can easily enter the trap completely and not set it off. I don’t recommend it.

Two of Woods’s favorite traps are the plank and the rolling log. Both are set up over an ordinary bucket, and the unsuspecting mice walk up two wooden ramps on either side onto the trap and fall into the bucket. It can be a no-kill trap, but Woods fills his with water so the mice drown. You can see in his videos (of the plank, the rolling log, and his new favorite, the Flip ‘N Slide) that the traps are effective at catching a lot of mice at once. But I don’t think most people want to deal with dumping out a bucket of mice, regardless of whether they’re alive and dry or wet and dead. It’s also hard to suggest death by drowning is as humane as swiftly killing a mouse in a traditional trap. Plus, you usually have to supply your own bucket and wooden ramps, and find enough space to set those things up, all of which is pretty inconvenient. Woods also told me that ever since he featured the rolling log on his channel, the design has surged in popularity and spawned lots of cheap knockoffs—to the point that it’s impossible to guarantee you’re getting a working trap. Considering all of this, I can’t recommend either type of trap.

Mousetraps are the most patented device in history, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, with more than 4,000 patents for mousetraps registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office. New varieties are being developed all the time. But there are a few in particular that I’d like to keep my eye on.

We’re currently considering the Victor Electronic Mouse Trap as an option for households with pets or young children. The high-voltage electrodes that deliver a quick lethal dose of electricity to mice that wander through its mazelike opening are contained within the sleek plastic device, meaning that it’s less likely than our picks to be accidentally triggered by a curious toddler or household pet. We initially dismissed it as too expensive and limited compared to our picks, but after a price drop and considering these use cases we’re taking another look.

And although I don’t think the technology is up to snuff just yet, I’m cautiously optimistic about the future of smart mousetraps. I hope that one day we’ll see a trap-monitoring app that works well enough to offer a significant improvement over checking traps in person. Victor’s Brown couldn’t comment on anything that may or may not be in development, but she said, “I think it’s fair to say that this is only the beginning for [Internet] connected rodent-control traps”

When disposing of dead mice, or handling live mice, you should absolutely wear gloves—either the disposable kind like I used, or a pair of kitchen or gardening gloves that can be washed. You can also just put a plastic bag over your hand in a pinch. I recommend putting the mouse (and anything else you’re getting rid of, such as a disposable trap or droppings) in a plastic grocery bag, tying it up, and throwing it in the trash—preferably an outdoor trash can with a lid to fend off predators. Woods said he dumps his mouse carcasses outside, far away from his house, and sets up an infrared motion camera to watch the circle of life unfold—skunks, opossums, cats, owls, and more like to feed on mice. He said this is another reason he doesn’t use poisons.

You should always clean up areas where you know mice have been hanging out with diluted bleach or another disinfectant. Ventilate the area first. Between kills, you can rinse traps in warm water (try not to use a perfumey soap, because it might overpower the scent of the bait), and I like to get in all the nooks and crannies with a cotton swab. It’s time to throw a mousetrap away when it no longer functions, or when the mechanisms start to rust or degrade.

Sarah Witman has researched, tested, and reviewed all manner of products—from massage chairs and mousetraps to pencils and power banks—since joining Wirecutter in 2017. Before that, she worked as a science writer and fact checker for numerous publications, and she studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin. In her spare time, she eats as much cheese as her body will tolerate.

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