OK, here's the scoop on the Victor Tin Cat. It works very well, IF you use it correctly. You are only thinking about buying it because you don't want to blast your little mouse invaders into the next life, right? Because nothing beats snap traps for efficacy and ease of use. But the Tin Cat can work and work well if you deploy it wisely. Here are a few suggestions on how to get the most out of the live trap and how to prevent invoking suffering on its rodent inmates:
0. USE DISPOSABLE VINYL GLOVES WHEN HANDLING THE LIVE TRAPS. Seriously, you have to do this to protect yourself and your family. Hantavirus and other infections can result from exposure to mouse droppings and urine. Most people who are exposed to the virus have come in contact with rodent droppings in their own homes. Let's not get sick because we choose to not vaporize mice who are trying to cohabitate with us.
1. Bait the trap generously. I use a half of a peanut butter cracker per trap, split it in half again and put a quarter at each end of the trap. There are vent holes that the mice encounter when they inspect the trap from the outside. Make sure your bait is right up against the vents. Refresh the bait every time you clear the trap of a mouse, or every few days if you have not caught anyone yet...
2. ...because you're going to check the trap every day. EVERY DAY. If you don't have the discipline to do this, then just use the conventional wood and metal Victor snap traps. Otherwise, you're going to turn your well-intentioned live trap into a killing machine ... a very slow, torturous killing machine. A few things can happen if you neglect the traps more than 24 hours, including their painfully dying from lack of water, lack of food, hypothermia, or cannibalism. Mice have a very high metabolic rate, and will painfully perish after a day or two without food or water. Yes, your bait is in there, but if you've got more than one prisoner, it's party over, man, party over. Second, the metal floor of the trap is an excellent conductor of heat and will rapidly transfer the life out of a mouse if the trap is in a cold environment like a barn or garage. I put some cover in the trap, like dried grass or hay or leaves, enough to ensure that they'll be able to sit atop it yet not enough to make it not easy to see if someone's come to visit.
3. When you clear the trap, take the mice at least 100 feet away, further is better, or try to release across a couple of habitat transitions. Distance is best, but if you can't do that, you might be able to get them across the street, or in that woodlot next to your yard, etc. If you've ever seen a mouse hauling tail on a paved surface, you know that they can cover distances in a flash and be right back where they started. In your house or barn. So, again, more distance is better. Remember, mice leave their nest sites to forage ... they know how to find their way back. Their trails are marked with cues, so you have to break that chain so that they cannot find their way back.
4. Another note on emptying the trap. These little guys are scared in the trap, and they look for dark, narrow spaces to hide. So make sure that when you empty the traps, you look into the two little entrance chutes on the inside to make sure that there is no one in there. It's easy to do... the chute area on the inside of the traps is not much longer than a mouse. But just make it a practice to peek in there so that you don't forget someone, only to kill them due to the factors detailed in #2, above.
5. Clean it, clean it, clean it. Mice leave a mess, it's a fact of life. The amount of droppings a pair of mice can leave in these traps is nothing short of amazing. They have the market cornered on healthy bowels. Every time I clear the traps, I tap them a little against the ground to loosen the droppings ... some leave, but some are stuck, but it's OK because you're going to clean the traps every week. At least. I use a two-part cleaning process: first, I place the open-top traps on the lawn and spray them with a power stream of water from the hose. That blasts out a lot of the stuck stuff and starts to soften the droppings that are really adhering to the trap floor. Then, about a half-hour later, I hit them with the water stream again, and voila, perfectly clean. I let them sit out in the sun to dry, and then they are good to go. About every two weeks, I spray the traps using 1 part bleach to 10 parts water in a spray bottle to sanitize them. After a half hour, I hit them with water again and air dry. This may seem like a lot of trouble, but I want to the traps to stay serviceable, effective, and not become an undergraduate microbiology project that causes havoc and societal collapse as seen in the movie Outbreak.
6. Deploy them correctly. You have to get your Tin Cat up against a wall or some structure that will lead edge-running mice into it. Place it out in the middle of a floor and the fat lady is never going to sing, brother. My traps reliably catch one to three+ mice every night that they are set out. I run three Tin Cats in my barn that is in a rural forested area with a perennial brook running just 50 feet from the garage ... lots of mouse potential. The traps are very reliable. If they stop producing, and you've followed the rules, then move them to a new location ... even if only a few feet away. You can also change bait ... mix it up a little bit. If you've had a mouse die in your trap, clean it out and spray with the 10% bleach and sage the darn thing to drive out the spirits of the departed Mickey Mouse.
Finally, don't use glue sheets/traps inside of your Tin Mouse. Dude, that is like the most cruel thing you can do. The bloody things should be illegal. It would be kinder to just nail the mice to the driveway and back over them slowly with a steam roller. That's right. So why take on the guilt and bad karma if you can avoid it? They work GREAT without them. Don't get upsold on something that's not necessary.
Oh, and if you store these things, don't just stack them on a shelf somewhere. Because when you go and get them to put them back to work, you're going to have fossilized mice in there. To store, I clean and dry them, mist them with a little fog of WD40 or 3-in-1 oil, and place them in gallon zip lock bags. When I pull them out, I give them a quick degreasing and washing with Joy dish soap and they're good to go.
I'm a power user of these things. I'm an ecologist living in the backcountry and I just don't like to kill things if I can avoid it. In the house, an old 1890 cottage, it's snap traps all the way, because I need to set traps in the nether parts of the house where I'm not going to see them but every few days. But in the brookside barn/garage where I have a workshop and keep my cars, I'm in there daily and can clear the traps. I've had a problem with minks trying to live in my barn... and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why they want to live there: ample food (mice), water, and brookside digs ... and now you know why I take my mouse trapping seriously - area-denial warfare against mink!