How To's & Quick Tips

Buyer's Guide: Mouse Traps

Though small in size, mice can be big trouble when they invade your home's garbage cans, cabinets, crawlspaces, and other areas in search of food-chewing through interior structures you'd think would deter them and settling in to nest and breed. Even the most ardent animal lover should take active steps to be rid of mice, because they may carry Hantavirus or Salmonella bacteria, which cause respiratory disease and diarrhea in humans, respectively. And relying on your house cat to control your mouse problem won't work: Not all cat breeds hunt, and those that do can get fleas, ticks, or other parasites from catching or consuming mice, if they manage to access the crawlspaces of mice at all.

Commercial mouse traps provide a safe means of removal, but there are various types on the market, some more humane and effective than others. Read on for a rundown of trap types-then see our picks to find the best mouse trap for your pesky pest problem.

First: Pick a Trapping Approach

Choose kill or no-kill traps depending on which method you're most comfortable with.

  • Kill traps exterminate mice at the time of capture, eliminating the need to manually release a live mouse into the wild. Today's humane kill traps strike so swiftly that a trapped mouse generally won't suffer for long.
  • No-kill traps capture live mice, giving you the option of later releasing them outside. To be truly humane, the onus is on you to regularly check the traps and release mice; those left too long will die inside the traps from starvation, stress, or injury. You may also need to physically handle the mice when you release them, and they can return if you don't unload them far away enough from your house.

Next: Decide How Much Mouse You Want to See

If you're squeamish at the sight of mice or comfortable with visible rodents, you'll choose between open or closed traps.

  • Open traps let you clearly see if you've caught your quarry, because they're easy to monitor for mice. That way you're sure to dispose of or release the rodents in a timely manner. Wearing gloves is recommended when picking up any type of mouse trap and is imperative with open traps, as you're more likely to come into physical contact with a mouse.
  • Closed traps have walls or shells that fully or partially hide captured mice from view. Closed traps with opaque lids or doors keep mice completely out of sight, while those with clear or tinted lids or doors provide some visibility into the trap to let you monitor for mice.

Finally: Settle on a Trap Type

Exploring the pest control aisle of your local home center, you'll find four main types of mouse traps with different mechanisms and costs. We've summarized these various types below and highlighted our picks for the best mouse traps in each category, based on expert and consumer reviews.

• GLUE MOUSE TRAPS immobilize mice that scurry over their glue-covered cardboard or fiberboard surfaces. The cheapest of all traps ($1 to $3 per trap), glue traps don't technically kill mice but are considered the least humane because they can cause the creature's fur to tear or allow the mouse to die of stress or starvation if not released soon after capture. Plus, the release process is messy and unappealing, requiring you to glove up and manually free the mouse from the glue with vegetable oil.

Best Glue Trap: ALAZCO Glue Traps, 12-Pack

Pinched fingers are never a problem when you enlist this single-use glue trap to corral critters ranging from mice to insects in a non-toxic glue that's designed to provide a grip that never gives up. Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon, each trap can be laid flat to keep trapped mice in plain view or folded into a box to keep your pest problem a secret. Available at Amazon.

• SNAP MOUSE TRAPS are kill traps featuring a metal or plastic base and either a spring-loaded metal bar or serrated teeth that come down on the neck of mice when they take the bait. While the traps are among the least expensive ($2 to $10 per trap), they kill more slowly, and if not set properly, can injure mice, prolonging their pain.

Best Snap Trap: Tomcat Press 'N Set Mouse Trap, 2-Pack

The Wirecutter's pick for best mouse trap, this reusable trap sports two rows of plastic teeth that clamp down on mice that nibble the bait set in the well of the trap. Amazon reviewers gave the trap 4.1 out of five stars for its no-fail trap-set bar that pulls down and clicks to tell you when it's ready to be laid. Available at Amazon.

• ELECTRIC MOUSE TRAPS send a surge of electric current through mice that make contact with electrodes. The high kill rate and swift speed at which the battery-operated traps electrocute mice makes them the most humane kill trap, but the technology that goes into these plastic-and-metal traps also makes them the most expensive ($20 to $50). Fortunately, because they're reusable, they may prove a worthwhile investment if you have a significant rodent problem.

Best Electric Trap: Abco Tech Electronic Humane Rodent Zapper

Discreetly downsize the rodent population in your home with this electric trap that uses wireless circuit sensors to zap mice entering its rodent tunnel without the possibility of escape. The device, which earned a 4.1 out of five-star rating on Amazon, delivers a 7,000-volt shock that exterminates mice instantly and painlessly. Plus, four AA batteries provide enough juice to kill up to 30 mice. Available at Amazon.

• CATCH-AND-RELEASE MOUSE TRAPS are usually reusable metal or plastic traps with a lid or door that closes as soon as a mouse steps inside, without killing or injuring it. There are two types of catch-and-release traps: singles, which ensnare one mouse and suit a small rodent problem, and multiples, which can catch anywhere from five to 30 mice and are the best mouse traps for serious infestations. While catch-and-release traps are the most humane, they're on the pricey side ($7 to $20 per trap) and you must regularly monitor and empty them, as mice will die if neglected for too long.

Best Single Mouse Catch-and-Release Trap: Catcha 2-Piece Humane Smart Mouse Trap

Rated 4.3 out of five stars on Amazon, this plastic mouse motel features a spring-loaded trap door that shuts after a mouse touches the bait in the bait compartment. Ventilation holes give a critter ample fresh air until you release it by manually lifting the bait compartment. Available on Amazon.

Best Multiple Mouse Catch-and-Release Trap: JT Eaton Little Pete Extra Narrow Multi Catch Mouse Trap

Scoring four out of five stars on Amazon, this bait-free and battery-free reusable trap allows you to capture up to 10 mice at a time from beneath furniture, behind large appliances, or anywhere else its narrow and low-profile design fits. Keep track of all your catches through the clear inspection lid of the trap. To release, lift the lid and out they go! Available on Amazon.