How to Remove a Live Mouse from a Sticky Trap

Two Methods:Removing the mouse using vegetable oilUsing powder to free the mouse

If you've come across a live mouse stuck to a sticky trap, you'll discover quickly that these things are not designed to let go of the mouse. If you're wanting to remove the mouse and release it into the wild without injuring it, you'll need to find a kind way of loosening the mouse. Fortunately there are some good ways of doing this.


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    Don't ever try to just pull the mouse off the trap without using one of the release methods. The glue on some of these traps can actually pull off hair and sometimes skin. It is easy to de-glove a mouse or rat tail with the trap glue.

Method 1
Removing the mouse using vegetable oil

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    Place the mouse on the trap inside a plastic container. Place the entire trap, mouse, bait and all, in a clear plastic container that has surface dimensions a little greater than the sticky trap and that is at least 4 inches (10.2 cm) deep.
    • Wear rubber gloves if possible and keep your hands away from the mouse. Though mice are little and cute, they do have very sharp teeth and mice can carry disease and the bites hurt. A mouse can do some serious damage with its teeth, so even if you are using gloves, take care not to give the frightened animal a chance to bite.
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    Pour a little vegetable oil over the mouse. Coat it very lightly, as well as coating the surrounding area of the trap. Use just enough oil, maybe a spoonful or two at most. Any sort of cooking oil works, but vegetable oil works best and tends to be the least expensive. The oil negates the sticky glue surface.
    • Never use any other kind of oil. In particular, do not use petroleum-based, synthetic or lubricating oils as these will kill the mouse.
    • Ensure that the mouse's mouth and nose are not submerged in or covered by oil.
    • Cooking spray is a good alternative to vegetable oil. You can concentrate the spray only on the parts that are stuck without coating any unnecessary areas. Also, aiming the spray at those areas and soaking them causes an almost immediate release of the mouse without wearing it out and causing it to be further injured.
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    Place the lid on the plastic container and lock it down. Wait and watch. The mouse should be able to work its way free of the trap in a few minutes. This can happen almost instantly if the critter is not stuck very well, so make sure you put the lid on as quickly as possible. If the mouse comes unstuck with the lid off, it will almost instantly hop out of the container and once again be free in your building.
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    Rarely, the mouse will need a little help. If it has been stuck on the paper for a prolonged period of time, it can become weak and dehydrated. Also, the plastic tray version of the sticky traps can be very sticky, and the mouse may have trouble getting out, especially if its back legs are stuck together or its tail is submerged in the glue.
    • If this happens, use padded cloth, like an old potholder, to help get the mouse almost free. The cloth should be thick enough that you can't get bitten through it but flexible enough that you can grasp the rodent with it.
    • When you have the animal mostly free, put the trap in the container and put the lid on and let the mouse do the rest of the work. This can take a few minutes.
    • Check to make sure no glue is covering the mouse's nose. If there is any there, use a cloth to gently wipe it away. There should not be enough glue on the paper traps for this to be an issue, but could be a problem with the deeper plastic trays.
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    Watch through the container to make sure the mouse is free. It should be able to move around, without its legs or tail stuck together. Once it is up and walking around, it's time to release it outside. Don't feel too rushed; there is an hour or so of air in the container, but not much more, so plan to have the mouse free within that time. Also, if you leave the mouse in the container for a longer time, it will start trying to chew its way out and damage the container.
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    Take the mouse to a suitable environment, preferably a large field or wooded area, at least a mile from your building and away from other buildings. Some rodent species have a daily range of close to a mile, so get them at least that far away, unless you want them to return.
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    Set the container on the ground, preferably near some cover so the mouse can find a place to run to free of predators. Remove the top and take several steps back. The mouse should be able to hop out of the container. You may need to tip the container on its side a bit to encourage the mouse to leave.
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    Clean everything well. Dispose of the old trap and bait in a sealed garbage can outside; the bait and trap can still attract mice and insects, but are now just a food source. Though generally clean animals, mice can carry a variety of diseases that can pose a risk to people and other pets (especially pet rodents), so it is very important to wash and disinfect the container and anything else used to catch and release the mouse. Disinfect and clean the areas where the mouse was living.
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    Wash your hands very well.
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    Repeat the process. Where there is one mouse, there are usually more. Leave a few traps out in the same area for a couple of weeks. Keep repeating the process until you have not caught a mouse for a month. Watch for signs of new infestations and place new traps as soon as possible -- mice breed really, really, really fast -- several litters, as many as seven to 10, in a year.

Method 2
Using powder to free the mouse

  1. 1
    Obtain a food-safe powder such as cornstarch.
  2. 2
    Apply the cornstarch as you would the oil. Cornstarch has no possibility of harming the mouse (and unlike oil, there is no risk of drowning it).
  3. 3
    Assist the mouse. The mouse will require more assistance than with the oil method. Use a padded cloth or thick gloves, because the mouse will most like try to bite you. Try to get the mouse mostly free, as above, and let it finish the work for you.
  4. 4
    Follow the remaining steps outlined in the Oil method above to release the mouse.


  • A pet cat, dog or wild animal may get glue stuck to its mouth, throat or the rest of its digestive system if they eat such a mouse that still has glue on it. This process should leave the mouse glue free, but if you see excess glue on the animal, hold it with a glove or cloth so you don't get bitten and use a clean paper towel, washcloth or shop towel to wipe off any excess glue before releasing the mouse.
  • Get rid of the rodent welcome mat. Mice and rats are much more likely to make a home where there is plenty of food and bedding material. If you keep food and such out of reach and a clean home, you are much less likely to have an infestation.
  • You can also use the vegetable oil to get the traps off your pets, clothing, children, and such. Much care is to be taken to ensure that you do the wash of your clothes with the oil in the first instance to ensure a stain will not occur (check in the small, unnoticeable spot to begin with).
  • While you can't mouse-proof a house, you can seal up any obvious entry points. The average field mouse can fit through a hole a little bigger than a pencil and they can chew through most foam sealant. Use a combination of sealing material or patching compound with wire mesh or metal scouring pads to seal the holes where the mice are most likely getting in. Look especially where pipes and wires run into the house.
  • Check local laws in your area before releasing the mouse. It can be illegal to release animals onto someone else's property without the owners' permission. You can also release them in a wooded area of a park and not have to worry about the private property issue, but in that case, be sure you are not doing so in a mostly grassy open type park that is basically made for people only, as you don't want a child getting bitten because of you!
  • Make it a lot easier on yourself and the mouse. Just buy a mouse cube - a clear plastic box with a slanted door, so that the mouse can get in but not out. When it's time to release it back to the wild, simply turn the cube upside down. The door falls down and the mouse scurries out. No touching, no sticking - just trap and release!
  • You can make a small habitat of bedding material. Paper towels shredded work well. Add a food source such as nuts, shredded cheese, and water. Leave the mouse in a suitable container, such as a small cardboard box or shoebox with an opening for the mouse to leave from when it is ready. That way, if you are in a cold environment, the mouse will have food and shelter until it is strong enough to find alternate housing.
  • Consider building a better mousetrap. There are many tutorials online about putting together simple catch-and-release traps that offer a better option than the sticky traps and ultimately can be more cost effective because they can be reused. One example is this design made from a 2-liter bottle:


  • Check the traps regularly. A trapped mouse can quickly dehydrate and will die in a day or so, sometimes less. Dead animals pose a whole new spectrum of health hazards and can smell awful. If the mouse has died, take extra precaution in disinfecting the area.
  • Check the traps regularly. Make sure you check the traps several times a day to reduce the chance the mouse will hurt its self or become dehydrated.
  • Mice and rats bite. They are not mean, just defending themselves. Keep your hands away from them and protect yourself with gloves and a thick cloth if you have to handle the mouse.
  • Place traps where other pets, like cats and dogs, can't get to them. Otherwise, instead of catching the mouse, you run the risk of catching your poodle. Also, a trapped mouse makes an easy target for a cat or dog -- fatal for the mouse and you run the risk of exposing your pet to disease.
  • Make sure the animal can actually survive in the environment you are releasing it into. If you live in an extreme or inhospitable climate the animal would not survive in, there is no point in live trapping and releasing it.
  • Mice may try to remove themselves from the sticky traps any way they can; struggling and leaving hair and even body parts behind. If release is your goal, there are other methods to consider. Alternatively, humane mouse traps such as the Mouse Depot and the SmartMouse trap are available online, at local hardware stores, wildlife centers, and big box stores.
  • Make sure the lid on the transportation container is sealed and locked, otherwise you run the risk of having a mouse loose in your car.
  • All rodents potentially carry disease, including rabies,[1] Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome,[2] Hemorrhagic fever,[3] Lassa fever,[4] Leptospirosis,[5] Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis,[6] Plague,[7] Rat-Bite fever,[8] Salmonellosis,[9] Tularemia,[10] all of which can make humans and pets, especially pet rodents, sick, or even die. Clean everything well and dispose of anything that has been contaminated with rodent droppings that can't be completely sterilized. Wash your hands well after releasing the mouse. Sometimes, washing hands may not be good enough to avoid infections, as many of these can penetrate skin or transmit by aerosols that you breathe in. See a doctor immediately if you get acutely ill after handling mice.
  • While sticky traps don't usually harm the mice immediately, they can still cause injury; use them as an option when live traps are unavailable or don't work.
  • Use only natural cooking oil. Petroleum-based oils can be toxic and are not good for the environment, the mouse, your home, etc. Petroleum oils are also much more difficult to clean up.

Things You'll Need

  • Sticky mouse traps -- cardboard ones are better than plastic trays
  • Bait, not cheese or peanut butter. Fruit bars work best.
  • Clear plastic container larger than the sticky traps, at least 4 inches (10.2 cm) deep, with a locking lid
  • Cooking oil
  • Gloves
  • Thick cloth or old potholder
  • Disinfectant

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