Are Mice Smart Enough To Avoid Traps?

Mice are relatively intelligent creatures. However, they are not smart enough to avoid traps. The reason they appear to be avoiding your carefully laid traps is that they are driven by their natural instinct. This is what helps keep them safe.

It is also what makes your mouse catching task more challenging.

So even though mice may appear super smart, there is a way for you to outsmart them. Continue reading to learn more about how these little guys operate.

Are Mice Smart Enough To Avoid Traps

Are mice intelligent?

Mice are smart.

The size of their brain (in ratio to their body size) indicates this. Numerous experiments carried out with mice also demonstrate their intelligence.

Scientists have even genetically modified some mice to increase their capacity to learn. Despite this, a mouse will not understand what a mouse trap is and will not be aware that it can result in death.

Why do mice avoid my mouse traps?

mouse trap avoided by mice

Probably the number one reason mice don’t go near traps is because of their sense of smell.

Their smell is their strongest sense. If they don’t like the smell of something, then they won’t approach it. The scent of humans will instill fear into mice. Therefore, if you have been handling a mouse trap it is understandable that they will not go near it.

The easiest solution for this is to use gloves while you are setting up the traps. Alternatively, wash the traps thoroughly between uses.

As well as human scent, mice thoroughly detest the smell of other dead and/or rotting mice. So, make sure you remove any dead mice immediately. Again, wash the trap thoroughly to remove any smell.

Basically, you want to set up a mouse trap that only smells of the tasty bait you’ve set in it. If the mouse trap contains one of the following scents, it is likely to be avoided by mice:

  • Human scent
  • Dead mouse scent
  • The scent of a predator (such as a cat)

Mice may also be suspicious if they notice a new object in their environment. This could be another reason they appear to be avoiding your newly placed traps.

You will just need to be patient. It shouldn’t take too long before the mice become comfortable with these newfound items, especially if they do not have your scent over them.

What smells do mice like?

peanut butter

Mice like the smell of other mice’s urine. Well, they may not actually like it. But it does make them feel that they are in a safe place.

This is why humane mouse traps, that capture the mouse live and unharmed, can sometimes work better than their snap trap counterparts.

The captured mouse will spend time inside the trap, continuing to eat the treat that you left for it. All the while it will be producing plenty of urine. After you dispose of your trapped mouse and re-set it, a new mouse will be able to smell the urine left by his previous companion. This should be enough to lure him into this supposed safe place.

Have I set up my traps correctly?

lots of mouse traps

You may not be catching any mice due to the placement of your traps.

As mentioned previously, a mouse’s natural instincts will help it to avoid danger. There is no point in placing a trap in the middle of a room. There is no way that a mouse is going to walk brazenly across an open space for a smidgen of peanut butter.

Mice will always stay close to walls, so this is where you need to place your traps. The corners of rooms and dark, covered places are also good options.

It’s always best to set multiple traps to improve your chances of eliminating your mouse problem.

Mouse droppings will also give you a clue as to where there is plenty of mice activity.

Here is a guide for setting mouse traps for higher levels of success.

What other factors make for a successful trap?

mouse caught in trap

You can use cheese in your traps; however, mice tend to prefer nuts. Peanut butter is a commonly used food in mouse traps. Don’t put too much food in your traps. Otherwise, the mouse may just take a small nibble and runoff, without setting the trap off.

Mice are always very cautious and on high alert, even when they are eating.

There is a large array of mouse traps available. From the classic spring-loaded traps to sticky glue traps (please don’t use these). Humane mouse traps (as mentioned above) are preferred by many, as they don’t harm the mouse and they also have a good success rate.

You can even create your own traps using simple cardboard rolls and buckets of water.

If you want to go high-tech, you could set up cameras in order to observe the movements of the mice. It will show you the areas they frequent most, allowing you to place traps in the best positions. It may also give you an idea of just exactly how large the problem is that you’re dealing with.

Finally, don’t despair. The main thing that will be required from you is patience. Solving your mouse problem can take time, but as you’ve seen, there are a number of effective ways to do so.

And as we’ve learned, mice are smart – but not too smart!


Are mice smart enough to avoid traps? Yes and no… No, they do not know these are traps, but yes, they may avoid them if the trap is new, or contains a scent from you, a dead mouse, or a predator.

That doesn’t mean you will not be able to catch mice with a new trap. It just means it may take a little while longer. I mentioned before in this post, patience is key when trying to catch mice. If you use the correct bait and place the traps in the right places then you will catch them.

Pest control isn’t easy, but once you know the basics, you can do it yourself.

Having said that, if you are overwhelmed by mice or other pests, please contact a pest control company to help. That is what they are for.

Good luck!

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