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How to Safely Open a Mouse Trap

November 29, 2021
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Spring-loaded traps are some of the most common types of traps that you can find. This is because they’re mostly affordable, can be bought in bulk, and effective. It does this by snapping down with its powerful spring mechanism. The problem that most people face is that setting up the trap requires you to pull back the bar and spring. Most people are afraid of doing this because if it’s done incorrectly, it can cause the trap to painfully snap on their fingers.

So how can a mouse trap be opened safely? You need to be very gentle with it. Place your bait before pulling back the bar. Once the bait is placed, pull back the bar. Hold it down with your finger. As you do this, place the hold-down bar (the long bar at the other end of where you place the bait) right on the notch of the small bait platform. Slowly release your grip on the bar so that there's tension on the bait platform. Once that’s set, gently place and position the trap wherever you plan on placing it.

Read More: Facts About Mouse Traps That You Need to Know

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How to Open z Snap Mouse Trap Without Hurting Yourself

Prior to understanding how to set up the mouse trap, it's first important to know the actual parts of the mouse trap itself. That way, it makes it easy for you to follow along.

Parts of a Mouse Trap

The mouse trap is a very simple device, with each part being vital to how it works. While other mouse traps over its long history have sported a more experimental design, we’re mostly dealing with the most common type of mouse trap: the spring-loaded, snap trap. This is the most popular way to kill common house mice, which are a breed of light grey or brown mice that may be causing you distress.

According to a scientific article on the history of the mouse trap, there are 4 main components of a mouse trap, namely: striker, set/release mechanism, power source, and the base or framework.

1. Hammer (Striker)

Another common name for this among trappers is the "kill-bar." This is essentially what is going to swing around the mouse trap, trapping the mice, and ideally breaking their back or neck, killing them instantly. The hammer is essentially a small metal bar that doesn't hurt -- until it smashes down with full force. 

2. Hold-Down Bar (Set/Release Mechanism)

On one end of the mouse trap platform, there’s going to be a long bar with a hook at the end. This is the hold-down bar. It's important to not tamper with this as much because its length is just right to reach the notch of the catch.

3. Spring (Power Source)

Where the mouse trap gets all its snapping power from is the spring in the middle, which is known as a torsion spring. As opposed to a spring that you see used for pogo sticks or car suspensions that go up and down, this spring rotates. Think of it like twisting a rubber band around a pole; the more you twist, the more energy it releases when you let go.

The torsion spring extends on either end of the mouse trap, with one end holding down the hammer. If you notice, when it isn't set, each end of the spring faces opposite sides. Only when they face the same direction is there force.

4. Platform (Base or Framework)

This is where all the parts of the mouse trap are nailed down on. The most common material that's used for the platform is wood, which helps make it so lightweight. 

5. Catch 

On the other end of the mouse trap is the catch or bait platform. This is where you can place whatever bait you prefer to use. The catch usually has a portion of it going up. On top, there will either be a hole, lip, or protruding notch, and this is because the hold-down bar needs something to hold on to. When the hold-down bar slips its grip on the catch, that's when the hammer flings forward.

Setting Up the Mouse Trap

The important thing to remember about setting up a mouse trap is that you need to be very careful and gentle with it. The average weight of an adult mouse is anywhere from 20 to 35 grams. This means that mouse traps have to be really sensitive so that something so light can trigger the mechanism. It's also important to be confident. If you're nervous and shaking, worried about whether the mouse trap will snap on you, then it most likely will. 

It’s also recommended to wear a pair of gloves. When holding a mouse trap with your bare hands, you unintentionally rub some of your scent on the platform. Mice have excellent sniffing abilities. That means they can tell if a predator -- i.e. you -- has been handling the mouse trap.

1. Release the Hold-Down Bar

Upon unboxing, the mouse trap will have the hold-down bar stapled onto the platform. This is so that the hold-down bar doesn't move about in the mousetrap package. When attempting to remove the staple, don’t simply pull the hold-down bar up. Doing this might deform the hold-down bar, making it unable to reach the notch of the catch. Instead, it's recommended that you use a pair of pliers to pull it out gently.

2. Place Your Bait

While the trap hasn't been set is the best time to place your bait. While movies and TV shows might suggest that cheese is the ideal bait for mice, it’s actually wrong. The problem with cheese is that it's far too easy to swipe away from the catch. Instead, smear bread spreads like peanut butter or Nutella on the catch to make it harder for the mice to snag the bait food and force them to stay a bit longer. The longer they interact with the catch, the more likely they’ll get trapped. 

3. Pull Back the Hammer

This is the part that can bring the most anxiety for people. The most important thing to remember when pulling back the hammer is to hold it down with your fingers, pinching the base and the hammer down together. Make sure your grip here is secure. New mouse traps will have fresh torsion springs, so it’s going to want to fight your grip; don’t give in. 

4. Tuck the Hold-Down Bar Under the Catch's Notch

While you’re holding down the hammer with one hand, use the other hand to set the hold-down bar. Place the hold-down bar over the hammer to hold it down while hooking it to the catch. Only a small portion of the hold-down bar is actually going to reach catch. This is so that even the slightest movement will make the bar slip, releasing the hammer down. Think of it like pulling a long rubber band only with the tip of your fingers; one small movement could make the rubber band slip from your fingers. 

5. Slowly Release and Position

Once the end of the hold-down bar is tucked under the lip or notch of the catch, slowly release your grip from the hammer. This is so that there’s a force acting on the hold-down bar to secure its position at the catch stronger. But still be very careful. There’s no need to rush. 

Place your fingers on the side of the base. Very gently place it on the ground where you intend to position it. Avoid placing your fingers anywhere near the catch area to avoid accidentally triggering the trap on your fingers.

Mouse Trap Safety Precautions

Although mouse traps are small, they can still inflict a lot of pain on those who don’t handle it well. The force that the torsion spring acts on the hammer is meant to be powerful enough to break the bones on their neck or back while their head is at the catch area. Compared to your adult finger bones, mouse bones are tiny; that doesn’t mean that it still can’t hurt. 

Children are naturally curious, without understanding the inherent danger of certain objects, including the usually brightly colored mouse trap. When they go to reach for the mouse trap, the force of the snap can actually do serious damage on the child. Especially if you have infants or toddlers at home,  the force of mouse traps has the potential to break their finger bones, or damage their entire hand. 

Since mouse traps are usually on the floor, accidentally stepping on a mouse trap may break their toes or damage their entire foot. Given this, it’s important to keep these devices out of reach of children. Instruct them regarding the mouse traps around the house and place it in areas where they’re either difficult for children to reach or where children aren’t allowed to roam around in. 

A similar mouse trap concern is if you have pets. Much like children, they’re also curious beings that have no understanding about the harm that mouse traps can do to them. While larger animals like dogs or cats may walk away with injuries, it’s the smaller pets such as gerbils, hamsters, or guinea pigs that you need to be watchful of. Since these animals are roughly the same size as the light grey or brown mice that mouse traps are meant to catch, it has a high likelihood of killing your pets especially if they run around freely, unprotected from your traps.

Read More: How to Stiffen the Spring of a Mouse Trap

Reasons to Contact the Professionals

If you aren’t willing to risk having mouse traps in your home because of your children or pets, there are other ways to help deal with your pest infestation. Glue traps and rodent poisons are potential no-snap pest control options that you can use. However, if the infestations persist, then by all means, you can contact the professionals to deal with your rodent infestations.

Another reason to call the professionals is the fact that mice tend to reproduce fairly quickly: a female mouse can produce 32 to 56 pups every year. If you don’t act on your rodent problem as soon as you can, there’s a high chance that it will become an even larger problem for you. They can also be carriers of diseases like Hantavirus, which is highly dangerous for children.. Lastly, with professional help, you can better understand where mice scurry around the house. Since mice are too small and fast for ordinary folks, the professionals can step in and form an analysis of the whereabouts of mice, and deal with them effectively. 

Contact Positive Pest Management for Your Pest Control Needs

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Positive Pest Management provides the highest quality rodent control and extermination services in New York City, as well as in the Nassau County, Long Island area. We specialize not only in residential pest management but commercial pest management as well. For highly effective pest control, contact us at 1-800-294-3130 and get a free quote.

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