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How to Trap a Rat - Trapping Information
Remember, the first step is crucial - you must seal up the
building first, so all the entry and exit holes are shut
before you start trapping. To trap without doing so is
pointless. Once it's all sealed, no more rats can get in,
and the ones that are stuck inside with no way out become
much easier to trap - instead of going outside for food,
they stay in the attic and run around, and hit your traps
much more easily.
I'll now discuss various trapping considerations, such as
bait, location, and types of traps.
LOCATION OF TRAPS
Location, location, location - it's crucial when setting rat
traps. I've seen many lousy amateurs simply throw a few
traps in the attic (or ceiling, kitchen, wherever) at
random, in the most convenient place. That won't work! Rats
are creatures of habit. They travel the same pathways over
and over and over. That's why they are so good at running
mazes. When you inspect the attic, you will spot the rat
trails. The insulation is trampled down, there are droppings
everywhere, and it's easy to see. Set the traps right on
these trails, with the trip pan right on the trail. These
rat trails are not in the most convenient spot, right near
the attic hatch. They are often near the edges of the attic,
in places you have to crawl to get to. Make sure the traps
are set on a flat, firm surface. That's very important. If
they are not on a good surface, they won't trigger properly.
Don't set them in a way that allows the rats to trigger them
from behind. Set the trap 90 degrees, perpendicular to flat
edges, like beams, when possible. Lay the traps across rat
paths, not in line with rat paths. Oh, and set a lot of
traps. One or two won't cut it. You want to BAM get them all
quickly. I set a minimum of a dozen traps in an attic. You
know, there's a lot to say here about rat trapping
technique. Having an eye for it, and experience with many
failed sets, helps a lot here.
Trick topic! Bait doesn't matter! In fact, you can set traps
with no bait, and have just about the same success. Again,
it all comes down to location. That said, I do bait my
traps, because I do believe it helps, and it can't hurt, and
every edge to make the job easier is good. The type of bait
is easy - I just smear a thin layer of peanut butter on the
trap pan. Simple! Read more about What
is the best bait to trap a rat? I know of some people
who do all sorts of crazy stuff, like tie a piece of meat or
Slim Jim down with thread, but that's just silly, and not
necessary. I've also heard some old-time trappers swear by
this bait or that - one guy told me that only pineapples do
the trick! He also told me that a cold winter is coming
because his rooster was crowing three times in the morning,
instead of two.
This type of trap is the best. As I've mentioned, I've tried
many traps over the years. Many types of traps have been
invented, but the original Victor wooden snap trap is
definitely the best, for a variety of reasons. And I'm not
some idiot who nostalgically pines for the good old days,
when they made 'em like they used to, etc. I love new
technology. But the wooden snap traps are the absolute best.
The flat bottom sits well on insulation. The pan can be set
at hair trigger. They are strong and kill instantly. There's
really no design change that I've seen, outside of ease of
setting (and that may be important to you) that improves
upon this design.
Yes, if you want to, you can use live cage traps, and trap
them live, and let them go outside. This is possible. And I
do very much like to be humane to animals, and rats have
feelings too. But I do not use cage traps for rat control,
and here are several reasons why:
- The cages often don't fit in the little nooks and
crannies that rats inhabit. Often, I'm wedging a trap in
a small area, and a cage just won't fit.
- It's important to set many traps, at least a dozen at
one time, to do the job right. Setting just one or two
traps will cause several problems, because you'll have a
bunch of free-agent rats with no trap to go to, and they
start to gnaw and create problems. Not many people have
access to a dozen cage traps.
- Cage traps are simply far less effective. Rats are
cautious, and not as likely to walk into a cage trap and
back to the bait trigger pan. With a snap trap, they
simply run along their usual route, and WHAM, they're
dead instantly. Or if it's the bait they are after, one
tiny sniff, and SNAP. With the cage traps, they have to
commit much more, and rats are super cautious.
- If you want to be humane, this is important - the
traps MUST be checked every 8 hours or so. Rats can die
quickly from heat stroke in an attic, and the stress of
being in a cage trap can speed up dehydration and such.
Most people who set cage traps in an attic don't have
the discipline to check the traps on a frequent basis.
You can negate some of the chance of death if you put
fresh orange slices (a source of water) in the traps.
- Okay, say you do trap the rat in a cage, and let it go
outside. It want to get back in the attic, and will
sniff its way back and try to chew its way back in. If
you've sealed the house properly, with steel, this
should not be a concern, but still, you've got
attic-acclimated rats out in the environment now.
Relocating them a far distance, at least a few miles,
Glue traps suck. They don't work very well. I've seen more
cases of rat footprints, bits of rat fur, and even
gnawed-off rat limbs than actual rats caught. But mostly, I
see empty glueboards with nothing trapped on them at all.
Rats are pretty smart, and good about avoiding glue boards.
But what if they do in fact get stuck, such as in the below
photo? We're talking a slow and agonizing death, folks. And
glueboards are one-time use, they are more expensive than
good-old snap traps, less effective, far less humane. Why
would anyone use one of these pieces of crap? I guess just
because someone out there is marketing and selling them.
I've never used them, but I've been called to many homes
with rat odor, and I found a rotting and stinking rat on an
old glue board lying around. Don't use glue traps. They
Some people want to know how
to keep rats away without having to trap them at all.
Unfortunately, there is absolutely no effective repellent
that actually works. The best form of rat
prevention is to simply seal your house shut so that
they can't get inside. If you need professional help, I have
friends that I have personally trained in these cities:
THE SAME APPLIES TO MICE
Although I wrote this site with rats in mind, such as the
Roof Rat and Norway Rat, the same principles apply to other
rodents, such as the house mouse. Mice behave very similarly
to rats, they're just smaller. Email me if you have any
questions about how to trap a mouse, mouse trapping, how to
trap mice, mice trapping, or any rodent trapping issues.
Read more articles I wrote about rats:
What are the types of rat snap
How to Make a Rat Trap
Is it legal for me to trap a rat?
Humane rat traps
Should I ever poison a rat?
An analysis of inhumane glue traps for rats
Should You Use Electrocution Traps for Rats and Mice?
Which is easier to trap - mice or rats?