Are Mice Smart Enough To Avoid Traps?

How to Attract Mice To Your Trap In A Nutshell:

  • Test using different bait.
  • Use gloves so they can’t smell humans around the trap.
  • Check all traps daily; don’t leave a dead mouse in a trap longer than a day so as to avoid decaying smell which can put mice off.
  • Place traps near mice activity i.e. mice runs


Trap and Release Mouse
No Mice Aren’t That Smart

The answer to this question is a bit of yes and no, actually. If you have a mouse infestation, then setting traps will mean that mice will be caught in the traps. Will the mice become wise to the fact that every mouse that has mysteriously disappeared, coincidentally entered a mouse trap?

No, they are not that smart, but they may start to avoid traps for other reasons. If this happens, it can appear that the mice have figured out what happens to any one of them who enters the trap. The truth is usually more down to earth.

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.

When a mouse is killed by a snap trap, or an electronic trap, if the mouse lies for perhaps a day or so before being removed, the smell of the dead mouse can be very strong to other mice. When you bait the trap again, other mice may sense the dead mouse smell and be repelled by it.

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.

For this reason, humane traps work extremely well. Mice dribble urine almost constantly. The smell of mice urine is reassuring to them. So, when a mouse is caught in a humane trap, it will spend the time trapped dribbling urine from time to time.

If you subsequently release the mouse and refresh the bait, then when another mouse comes along, it will smell the urine. The mouse will think that if the first mouse was happy to spend time in the trap, there can’t be a problem, and it will happily enter the trap, only to be caught.

Another possible reason why some people think that mice can grow smart about avoiding traps is simply that they don’t position the traps where there is the most mouse activity. They may also not use a bait that the mice are enticed by. So, when you know there are plenty of mice in your home, but they are not getting caught in the traps you have laid, it’s easy to think they know how to avoid traps that will kill them.

The answer here is obvious. Work out where the best place is to position the traps. Use a bait that the mice will find irresistible, and you may have to experiment with this, clean the traps thoroughly after use, only handle the traps wearing gloves, learn everything about how to get rid of mice and the mice will be caught in the traps. However, if did want to read about how clever they are in general, then this what was written about the by some neuroscience researchers.


  1. Dana says

    We are trying a combination of reusable, plastic snap traps and glue traps with no success. We do pick up the traps each day so our toddler will not get to them, and we have not been using gloves. According to your advice, the mice avoid all of our traps because they smell like us. What should I clean the snap traps with to remove our scent? Would it work for us to handle them with the type of rubber kitchen gloves that are typically worn to wash dishes?

    • says

      The way to clean a trap is boil it water for 1 minute. When it comes to handling them, you want to use three sheets of newspaper or rub some cotton gloves in some soil before picking up the trap. The other thing you can do is put a trap in a cardboard tunnel made out of a shoe box. Furthermore, note that sometimes, mice will jump over a trap so you could in addition put down a glue trap on the other side of the trap.

  2. marta says

    I had a smart mouse who would not leave..I tried all kinds of traps…he even escaped the glue trap..He got big because I was gone all summer and he just stayed there..He even got kind of bold and would not hide when he slept during the day..Then one day..I bought the poison pellets..on the weekend, that I was going to set them out..I opened the door on Friday..and he ran out..He looked like he was enjoying the breeze outside..I quickly closed the door and I guess hes not there because the magazines haven’t moved..!

  3. says

    I just started using a HaveAHeart mouse trap ($28.00) which captures them alive. I have used glue traps and traditional mouse traps along side this trap and these two will set there for weeks with no activity. The HaveAHeart mouse trap baited with peanut butter inside attracts them far quicker. I take the mice and then release them across the street and down an embankment near a river.

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