You managed to catch a mouse in a mouse trap, either in a cage made of metal, wood or plastic or in a snap trap. However, the dead mouse you left stuck inside the trap for a few hours is gone. Well, although it can be shocking that a dead mouse just vanished from the cage, there are reasonable explanations to help your investigation.
Dead mouse in trap disappeared
The dead mouse’s disappearance may seem like but it’s not magic at all. Here’s what may have happened:
1. The mouse was eaten by another animal
The body of the mouse may have been eaten by another animal or even a fellow mouse. That brings the question “Do mice eat dead mice in a trap?” Yes, they do. In the wild, mice are known to be opportunistic feeders, which helps their ability to breed year-round and nourish their young ones, per the Encyclopedia. This characteristic means they can eat a variety of food sources, including other mice if available. This can happen when the population of mice is high and food is scarce. Additionally, mice are known to be cannibalistic and may eat their own young if they are unable to find other food sources. In some cases, it could be a natural mouse instinct to eat up a dead fellow to prevent predators from clawing around since mice are prey.
The disappearing dead mouse in the trap could have been stolen by a venomous mammal such as a shrew. Shrews are not even considered rodents. Short-tailed shrews are known to be insectivores.
2. The mouse played dead
The mouse could have played dead the first time you saw it, this is known as playing possum. A mouse playing possum will breathe slowly, and its body will become limp, making it look like it’s died. It is a common defense mechanism used by prey to get away from predators when they sense a potential threat. Thus, it’s possible that the mouse froze and remained motionless in the trap until you left. If the trap was not sensitive enough, it may have managed to escape it with injuries and may not survive for long in the wild or its nest if it was snapped.
3. It was not a mouse at all
Many different types of rodents can enter a mouse trap, with the most common rodents being rats. Rats are larger rodents than mice and can weigh up to several pounds. Their body length measures about 8-10 inches. Rats are typically brown or black and feature sharp teeth and strong jaws for gnawing through materials such as wood and plastic. It’s possible that your trap visitor was a rat. Since they are generally stronger and more difficult to trap than mice, they may have managed to escape. In some cases, rats even escape with the trap if it’s lightweight and originally designed for a mouse.
4. Your pet may have stolen it
Perhaps, your pet took the dead mouse from the trap if the trap was not placed in an area inaccessible to pets or if the trap is not properly secured. Be sure that your pet did not consume the mouse as it may be carrying harmful diseases or toxins. If your pet has already eaten the mouse, contact a veterinarian immediately.
5. Someone accidentally released the mouse
Someone in your household may have accidentally released the critter, could have been a child or an adult. Ask your household members to be sure no one touched the cage. If someone accidentally released the mouse from a trap, take immediate action to prevent the mouse from returning. Consider setting the trap again or using a repellent to discourage the mouse from returning to your property. You also want to identify and seal up any potential entry points in the area where the mouse was caught.
How long can I leave a dead mouse in a trap?
It is not advisable to leave a dead mouse in a trap for a long time. Apart from the chances of being stolen by another animal, a dead mouse can decompose quickly, emitting a strong and unpleasant odor that attracts other pests and diseases.
Inspect the trap regularly and dispose of any dead mice as soon as possible. Make sure not to handle the dead mouse with bare hands. Wrap the mouse in a plastic bag and place it in a sealed trash can.
Ultimately, the disappearance of a dead mouse from a trap could be due to a variety of factors such as being scavenged by other animals, an accidental release by someone else, etc. Whatever the cause, consider further examination of the area for signs of mice and determine the dead mice thief—it could even be the pet—to help you place the traps better next time.