When setting up traps for mice to capture them, you must consider what bait to use for you to capture them easily. Perhaps you have been wondering what food is irresistible for mice to eat, and why.
Mice are attracted to kinds of foods rich in fats and sugars. Things such as peanut butter, raw meat, nuts, and cheese are irresistible for mice and serve as good bait.
This post offers a comprehensive guide to the kinds of food that mice love to eat, which makes these good for them, and how to use them as bait for traps.
In addition, we will discuss chemical baits in certain traps and why these work. The right kind of bait will help you figure out how to trap mice easily and help get rid of them from your home.
On the other hand, if you have a pet mouse, the following information would be useful for you too.
Here Are The Foods That Irresistible for Mice
What food are mice attracted to?
For far too long, we have assumed that the only answer is cheese.
Mice, like humans, have wide and varied diets, and they can eat almost anything.
Mice scavenge for food, and the food which they seek in houses is mostly food that we consume. It is vital to understand this when setting bait for traps.
The general idea behind this list is that mice prefer certain types of foods. They generally prefer nuts and seeds, small pieces of meat, fatty foods, and sugary sweets.
Mice need these for the same reasons humans do, as a source of ready energy to conduct their mostly nocturnal activities. The cheese was often considered ideal for these reasons.
For each type of food, we discuss the nutritive value of each item, why mice prefer them, and how these can be used as mouse bait. We hope that this list will be useful for your mice hunting.
A word of caution: when laying out bait, especially on mice traps, one should use gloves when handling them.
This is important for a reason: mice have a very sensitive sense of smell, and they can sense if something has been handled by a human.
They know that humans are active predators of mice, and they will stay away.
Bird seed is a compound food made up of nuts and grains.
The dominant ingredient in bird seed is usually sunflower seeds, with cereal grains such as corn and millet making up the mix.
For sugar, dried fruit such as raisins and cherries is sometimes added. The final ingredient is peanuts. Such a mix usually attracts birds to feeders.
Mice also rely on a diet that is primarily nut and grain based.
Mice rely upon nuts and grains for their caloric content, which they can burn pretty easily due to their metabolism and physical activity.
Half a cup of bird seed has around 127 calories and is a good source of fat and protein. It also contains vitamin A and other nutrients.
Mice love stealing bird seed from feeders, so one way of using bird seed as bait is to carefully make a trail out of it leading to the trap, especially if it is a sticky trap or a snap trap.
In live traps, bird seed is also useful in laying out a trail that may lead to the trigger. Bird seed can also be mixed with peanut butter for more effective bait.
Anyone who loves good preserves know that fruit jam is made of fruit, sugar, water, an acid such as lemon juice, and pectin.
What we want to pay attention to here is the sugar content. Depending on the fruit, jams have plenty of it and thus contribute to the high caloric value of these products.
Sugars are important for humans—and mice.
Mice love sugary foods, and a lot of the foods we recommend fit that criteria.
Mice, like humans, need carbohydrates to burn for energy. A tablespoon of a typical fruit jam contains 9.7 grams of sugar and 13.8 grams of carbohydrates.
That may be fine for humans but bad for mice. Studies show that mice in labs can die of “moderate” doses of sugar.
We don’t want to kill mice by making them eat lots of jam and letting them escape to die on their own. A very small amount of jam, placed on a trap trigger for something such as live traps or snap traps will do.
You must be careful, however, because mice are not the only ones attracted to jam or other sweet products. Insects such as ants like them too.
Who can resist a good dose of chocolate? Mice can’t.
Chocolate, especially processed chocolate products, are good for mice because they are high in the kind of caloric value that mice welcome.
100 grams of light or milk chocolate, for example, contains 531 calories, 58 grams of carbohydrates, and nearly 31 grams of fat.
However, you must choose your chocolate carefully when using them as bait for mice.
This study of mice and chocolate consumption clearly shows that mice do not like dark chocolate at all, preferring instead the much sweeter taste of milk chocolate.
Mice are not particularly fond of a cocoa ingredient called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine.
Small quantities of chocolate, like any other food item we recommend, are useful in baiting traps. Carefully place a small amount of chocolate on the trap trigger and watch them go for it.
The same study hypothesizes that mice are attracted to milk chocolate because of the scent of vanilla gives off, so we recommend using that for more effective entrapment.
What makes up breakfast cereal varies by the type. Most breakfast cereals, however, are grain-based, whether made of wheat or oats.
They also contain sugar, and sometimes plenty of it. Much like bird seed, such products appeal to mice, who like us see breakfast cereals as part of a complete breakfast. (See what we did there?)
What makes them food irresistible to mice? It is precisely what makes them bad for humans: the added sugar in these products.
This often makes up the bulk of typical breakfast cereals next to the grain-based flour from which they are made. As we have said, sugar is good for mice because they need it as a quick source of energy.
Ground up breakfast cereal is good bait for mice.
Use it in the same way as bird seed or place a bit of it on mouse traps, mixing it up with a high-fat item such as butter to make it stick on the trap trigger and make it more attractive.
Again, a note of caution: other animals and insects are attracted to sugary products, so be careful where you place traps.
Mice want a balanced diet, including grains, nuts, fats, and protein.
If you have a cat or dog at home and you still keep your pet food in the paper bags in which they are packed, you know very well what might happen when mice find your pet food.
That is why we recommend keeping pet food in rodent-proof plastic containers.
Depending on the brand of pet food, the nutrition they will provide mice varies.
Most dog foods, for example, contain protein and fat from meat ingredients, and usually a small amount of moisture (for dry foods) or more (for wet foods).
Dog foods also contain trace amounts of fiber, usually 3% to 5% of volume, which is also good for mice.
Wet or dry pet food is suitable for mouse traps when placed on the trigger or left exposed in containers. The latter is a good idea when setting out live traps.
If you have a pet at home, though, leaving pet food as trap bait may be counterproductive especially if they smell it and approach the trap. This may lead to unfortunate consequences!
This item requires very little introduction as to why mice like them.
Depending on the type of candy, the amount of sugar in them provides a high-energy source of food for mice, who rely on them for energy to scurry around and obtain material for their nests.
Loose candy can easily be good targets of mice, who can eat anywhere.
According to the original list which we adapted, the best kind of candy for mice, probably because of its size, is the jelly bean.
One popular brand of jelly bean has four calories per bean, which takes a human one minute to walk off, but may mean a lot for mice. The same jelly bean brand has approximately a gram of carbohydrates per bean.
With some difficulty, one can use jelly beans or any type of candy as bait. We recommend for ease that you halve a bean before laying it carefully on the trigger with gloves.
This works especially for snap traps. It is probably easier to use glue traps with candy, which is attractive to mice but will lead them to a fruitless rut.
Cookies, like some of the foods we have discussed in the post, offer part of the diet which mice rely upon.
Most cookie recipes call for two important dry ingredients: flour, which is made from wheat, and sugar, which is either brown or refined.
Mice are in need of both, and especially if they notice the cookie is sugary, they would be attracted to it.
What we do recommend as a good cookie recipe for mouse trap bait is chocolate chip cookies, which we note is pretty high in sugar and combines foods that are attractive to mice.
We mentioned chocolate earlier, and especially light or milk chocolate. A good recipe for this purpose would use semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Ground up cookies would be a good idea for baiting traps. Leaving a trail of cookie crumbs leading to a live trap is one possibility.
Or you could mix up cookie crumbs with peanut butter or regular butter or margarine, making them attractive to rats for their fat value.
Place the bait on the trap trigger and leave it alone until rats take the bait.
Preserved Meat Products
Mice need their protein.
This is what we have seen from our analysis of pet food. Meat is a good source of protein, but it is never a good idea to lay out raw meat in mouse traps as bait.
There are two reasons: it can rot when left outside the fridge for a long time, and rats will be repelled by the smell of rotting flesh.
That is why it is highly recommended that the kind of meat-based bait, as we will also mention below, are preserved meat products.
They are preserved primarily by a process of cooking, which extends their shelf life. They also contain preservatives which allow the meat to be left out much longer.
Live traps are especially good places where you can lay out preserved meat such as bologna and luncheon meat below the trigger mechanism.
Small pieces will do, especially when they are heated first. We recommend heating them because this can trigger the molecules that give off the food’s odor, which are attractive to mice.
Hot Dogs and Bacon
We treat these two products separately because most lists of mouse trap bait mention them as suitable food bait for mice.
Like other preserved meat products, hot dogs are pre-cooked and contain preservatives.
The difference between hot dogs and bacon, along with some types of sausages, is that the latter is cured, which preserves them.
Hot dogs, bacon, and other similar products, contain a mix of protein and fat. Like pet food, these occur in varying proportions depending on the variety and brand of the meat product in question.
It is obvious that very streaky bacon has plenty of fat, which is attractive to rats (see peanut butter and crackers, below).
Laying bits of hot dog or bacon, whether raw or cooked, is helpful as bait for various kinds of traps, especially snap and live traps.
As with other types of bait, these bits can be laid on snap trap triggers which will attract mice. A word of caution: other animals, such as pets, will also be attracted to meat, especially if the scent is strong.
Crackers With Butter
This form of bait is very simple but somewhat effective because of its two main ingredients: crackers, which are made of grain, and butter, which is a fatty product.
We have spoken quite a bit about grain-based products, but why can butter be part of a good bait?
Butter contains fat, and a lot of it, which mice need for energy and warmth, even with their fur. 100 grams of butter typically contains 717 calories and 81 grams of fat, and nutrients such as Vitamin A.
Since butter is extracted from milk, it has trace amounts of protein. A butter-cracker mixture thus contains a relatively balanced diet for mice.
Like other somewhat sticky mixtures combining grain and fat, these two foods can be carefully laid on mouse trap triggers, whether on live traps or snap traps.
It is highly recommended that the butter be cold, and the overall climate in the house cool enough to prevent the butter from melting and making the bait ineffective.
Oatmeal also comes highly recommended as a type of grain for mouse trap bait.
It is good to remember that grains such as these are part of the raw ingredients of mouse trap bait that uses chemicals to poison mice.
Oats are attractive to mice because of its smell, taste, and texture. Of course, it is nutritious for them too.
The nutritional value of oatmeal for mice and humans does not lie in its carbohydrate, fat, or sugar content, which is almost negligible. What they are good for are two things: fiber and nutrients.
Oats contain a kind of fiber called beta glucan. They are high in vitamins such as vitamin A and B6, minerals such as iron, and antioxidants.
The most common advice we have received about the use of oatmeal is to use it raw or mixed with peanut butter.
Oatmeal, like bird seed and other grains, are effective as a bait trail for traps, and when mixed with peanut butter is good for use in trap triggers. Use sparingly; a little can go a long way.
It is a popular belief, reinforced by cartoons and the like, that mice are attracted to cheese.
However, the experience of pest control experts shows that not just any kind of cheese will do. It has to be attractive enough and sticky enough that mice will inevitably get caught. Thus, hard cheese is out.
Soft smelly cheese is the answer.
Cheeses such as Camembert and goat cheese are ideal for mice bait because, like most milk products, they contain both protein and fat that are part of a mouse’s balanced diet.
What makes them different is that they emit an odor that makes them attractive to mice. This odor comes from bacteria that cause fermentation.
A reasonable amount of cheese that sticks to the trigger will be most helpful for entrapping mice. The reason is that the stickier the bait, the stronger the force needed to take it off.
And the more forceful a mouse gets, the more likely a trap will get triggered. This is bad news for the mouse and good news for you.
We saved peanut butter for last because, of all the food bait items that get discussed across the web, this one receives consistent mention as the best mouse trap bait.
There are good reasons for this. It contains the nutrition mice need. It is very sticky, which makes it work on triggered traps. Most of all, mice like the smell and the taste of it.
One benefit it has for mice is the amount of calories it has.
100 grams of peanut butter contains 588 calories. It also contains high amounts of fat (50 grams) and protein (25 grams).
Apart from that, mice also get fiber from it, and nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin B-6, and iron.
The key to using peanut butter, contrary to popular belief, is to use a small amount of it. A small dab will be enough to attract a mouse to a trap.
Because it is sticky, as we mentioned above, this amount will require forceful removal, thus triggering the trap. Pest control experts recommend mixing peanut butter with grains such as oatmeal for better effect.
Mouse Baits Irresistible to Mice
The second part of this post deals with chemical mouse bait and why they work. The first thing we have to talk about is what makes up mouse bait such as this one available on Amazon.
The basic ingredients are food products, which as we discussed above include nuts and seeds, and chemical compounds that have an effect on the metabolism of mice.
Mice, like most rodents, do not vomit.
This makes them very vulnerable to poison.
Rodent poisons are pretty popular for that reason, and when combined with ingredients desirable to mice, they can be deadly and work their way quickly through a mouse’s bloodstream.
There are two types of rodenticides, which are effective for mice, rats, and other rodents.
The first, and most common, are anticoagulants, which prevent the blood from clotting.
Older versions of products like the one we linked to use anticoagulants such as diphenadione. Non-anticoagulants such as cholecalciferol appear in more recent versions.
What makes a mouse bait station irresistible, then?
Mice Are Attracted to the Non-Active Ingredients of Chemical Bait Stations
One problem with finding out what makes bait stations attractive for mice is that we do not know what the non-active ingredients of chemical bait stations are.
The most we can get from leading manufacturers is that they are “100% food-grade” and that they are “proprietary filler.” This can be a problem for the curious.
If they are 100% food grade, then we can guess, based on the food items we have listed above, that these have certain attractive components.
They might give off a certain scent that is attractive to rats, very much like the scent of cheese and preserved meat. Secondly, they might contain solid grain components, which are attractive to mice.
The key here is that chemical bait is often disguised by food products, which are themselves attractive to mice.
For instance, mouse poison pellets can be mixed with grains and placed in bait stations, which will allow mice to eat them without noticing that they are eating something strange.
This may give us a clue as to what kind of stuff we can find in the proprietary filler.
Owners Help Bait Stations by Placing Attractive Food Bait
Bait stations do not just work on their own.
To increase their effectiveness and irresistibility, those who own and place mouse bait stations can place attractive food bait around the station to make mice come near it more easily and get attracted, in turn, to what is inside the shelter.
There are several choices for this. One example could be scattering bird seed, nuts, and grains such as oats near the entrance to a feeding station to lure them in.
Peanut butter in small quantities can be placed near the opening as well. Preserved meat products are also another possibility, though as we discussed they could be redundant.
However, this website on bait stations describes how to construct one, and food bait does not factor into the picture. What else can attract mice to places where they can potentially be poisoned?
Mice Might Find Feeding in a Bait Station Convenient
This factor all depends on where a homeowner places a bait station such as the one we described above.
Because mice, like other rodents, are curious creatures, they often go to different food sources and visit them around 20-30 times a day.
Placing a bait station somewhere unobtrusive but attractive for mice is key to making them irresistible.
For instance, if one knows where mice pass behind a fridge, placing a bait station there out of the reach of small pets and children gives mice an excuse to stop in and partake of the bait.
This factor increases the effectiveness of mouse bait stations and makes them more attractive to mice.
Here, it is important to remember that convenience for mice should mean inconvenience for other animals and humans who may be susceptible to the poison.
In the example we linked to earlier, the active ingredient for it, cholecalciferol, is fatal in large doses and has no known antidote. Caution is the best way forward in placing mouse bait stations.
Mice Feel More Secure Feeding in a Bait Station
The key to giving mice and other rodents an opportunity to feed is to make them feel secure, especially from other predators.
This is why bait stations are constructed that way. They give mice shelter, which helps them eat without any worry that they would, in turn, be eaten or harmed by other animals.
For instance, the commercial bait station may feature a small opening into which the mouse enters to eat the bait.
The space between the opening and the bait gives the mouse a chance to eat without being disturbed. The mouse can leave, satisfied, and scurry along to where they want to go next.
We have just cited some reasons mice find commercial mouse bait stations irresistible.
One thing to remember is to be patient about getting mice to be trapped or poisoned. Mice will inevitably die either way, whether you use traps or bait stations.
By the way, humane mousetraps are popular choice for people who are trying to get rid of mice in their homes.
Photo credit: ©canva.com/jrleyland, ©canva.com/ericisselee, ©canva.com/anyka6
Medical Disclaimer: TheHomePestControl is a digital publisher and does not offer personal health or medical advice. The contents of this website are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Affiliate Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made on our website. If you make a purchase through links from this website, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.