Indoor Pest Control

Building a Better Mouse Trap

That cat has nothing on John Frentz.

John’s record on catching mice stands unparalleled and unchallenged –– 15 in two days –– because he knows the secret.

With the weather being so unstable lately, fairly hot during the day and cool in the evenings, a lot of Royal Oak residents are finding they have a few more residents in their homes than they anticipated.

As a matter of fact, as of Thursday, Frentz and Sons had sold out of rat traps. Kind of makes you wonder what’s going on.

But seriously, Royal Oak does seem to have a rodent problem.

Tony Franco, who used to own Michigan’s largest public relations agency, was fond of saying squirrels are just rats with good PR.

But that doesn’t mean residents are ready to adopt new family members.

“Shelley doesn’t want to be in the same state with a mouse,” John says of his wife. “And she has a sixth sense for them. She can hear them skittering across the kitchen two rooms over from where we’re sitting. She’s never wrong.”

That’s why John has had to hone his skills for lightning strikes against the small gray antagonists who occasionally plague his house, which like many others in our neighborhoods, has been around for a few years. John’s home was built in 1926.

“That’s why you have to pay attention to doors and small, small holes in walls you might ordinarily ignore,” John says. Check the weather stripping on the base of a door –– if it’s even a quarter of an inch off, that’s enough for a mouse to squeeze in.

So are holes the same size that may have been drilled through your walls to install telephone, cable or other utility wires. “We’ve got a putty you can plug those holes with, but Shelley swears by steel wool. Stuff that in those holes, and they can’t chew through it.”

And if they’re already inside?

Before getting into the different types of traps, let’s talk poisons. Frentz and Sons carries rat and mouse poisons, but John isn’t a fan of them. The idea is that the mouse will eat the poison, which is slow acting, and then take a leisurely walk outside, not to return.

However, John fed poison to one mouse who apparently hadn’t read the script and instead of going outside, curled up and died behind his kitchen cupboards. He had to tear them all out to get to the mouse, because the smell was so bad. Another reason to think twice about poisons is if you live in a household with any children or pets.

The live trap is just a small wire cage with a trap door barely held up by a trip wire. It’s a one-way door, but the mouse will not be hurt and can be released, thus making the trap reusable, too.

If, on the other hand, you don’t exactly stay up nights worrying about the health of your uninvited guests, and you don’t want to even see them once they’re in the trap, Frentz and Sons carries two solutions. Both are similar; one, for example, is made by d-Con and looks just like a small plastic box. When the door is closed, it means the mouse is inside and heading toward the bright white light to see his friends and relatives.

Then there’s the JT Eaton Mouse Glue Trap. No springs, poisons or snaps. It’s a pre-baited tray covered with a sticky glue that the mouse can get out of. Just realize the mouse will still be alive when its time to dispose of the trap.

But John says while the type of trap matters, the way it’s baited matters more. After years of trial and error, he’s developed a method using his preferred weapon –– the plain old wooden mouse trap –– to the point where accuracy is a foregone conclusion. But you have to do it just right.

The John Frentz Way to Set a Trap
“It’s not the trap, it’s how you set it. You need a hair trigger so that when they breath on it, whammo. Otherwise, they dance on it with their friends, have a little lunch, and leave.”

Do all of the following on a flat surface, and use peanut butter for bait. Put the bait on the trap, pushing down into the holes so they have to work to get it out, pull the bar back and hold it with at least two fingers. Now, you’re going to place the trip bar.

John says most people put the edge of the trip bar too far into the trip plate that holds the bait. That makes the trip plate too secure –– you want it to go off if you drop a whisker on it.

But don’t try to set that hair trigger with your hands. These traps really sting.

Instead, use a pen or a small screwdriver. So after you’ve set the trip bar, gently and with a very light touch, press down with the pen on the bait plate.

Your goal is not to trigger the trap, but just to bring it as close to snapping as possible.