So you’ve identified a rat problem and want to know how to kill rats. You’ve researched and purchased the best rat trap on the market, meticulously set out them out, and plotted their placement. Now you wait. You wait. You wait, and nothing…
It’s important to arm yourself with the fundamentals of rat trapping before choosing your bait. The first of these is that rats are neophobic, meaning they don’t particularly like change or anything new. This especially true when it comes to their food sources. What this can often mean, is that the best bait possible will probably be whatever they have been feeding on.
However, if you are not removing food competition and the original food source is still present, you will not disrupt their routine and the rats will have no reason to investigate your trap for sustenance.
Despite their dislike for change, there are still certain rat baits that will work better than others. What you’ll learn might surprise you. For example, did you know that cheese is not an effective bait for rats? Probably not!
So let’s take a look at some of the best baits for different situations and figure out how they can help you spring your traps. Here are some common baits to experiment with on your rat trap or rat zapper.
Dog & cat food
Often people will find their cupboards riddled with evidence of rodent behavior. A common target for rats is pet food. Dog and cat food can act as a strong lure because of the large amounts of protein packed into such a small package. If your rat’s food source is pet food consider removing the competition by relocating it completely. Some people will try using Tupperware containers, but rats chewing capabilities will truly surprise you.
Place your trap around the source of the original pet food and use morsels as your lure. With the removed competition, the bait is familiar to the rodent and it should spring the trap.
Chocolate rat bait is certainly becoming more popular. Its availability, as well as its toxin-free and safe status, have certainly been some of the reasons for its rise in popularity.
Another is its ability to stay consistent through various weather conditions. This makes chocolate lure a popular option for outdoor rat bait box. This is especially true because of its strong aroma and ability to attract rats to investigate the smell.
Rats don’t often encounter chocolate in outdoor settings, so it is important to loop back to our rule. This is where pre-feeding comes into play. They are unlikely to try anything new without an introduction and removal of other food sources. Make sure you’re removing their meals and pre-baiting/pre-feeding the trapping area with your chocolate lure.
Peanut butter is a great DIY lure and is probably sitting in the cupboards of the majority of you reading this. It is highly attractive to rats because of its combination of sugars, proteins, and aromas. As with chocolate, it is readily available and will attract rats because of its strong smell. Again consider pre-feeding and food competition for best results.
Additionally, it should be noted that while peanut butter can be extremely effective, its effects won’t last long.
Peanut butter does not have a long shelf life once exposed to the elements and will most likely only be effective for 2-3 days. After about a week it can become an outright anti-lure when it molds.
Bacon is another popular bait in the same manner as pet food. This especially attractive to the Norway rat, who is the most common rat in North America. This is because bacon is high in fat, sugar, and protein.
Keep in mind that bacon isn’t a readily available food source for most rats so there will be feeling out period and they will most likely only take the bait if their other options are removed.
Feeds & grains
Some of the most common rat infestations come from agricultural settings, where rats feed on livestock’s food source. This can be particularly frustrating because of the inability to remove food competition. You have to continue to feed your horses, chickens, etc.
A good suggestion is to find the source of where the rats are coming from and try to bait traps away from your feeding trough. Just remember rats can be incredibly resourceful and you may have to practice the trial and error method here as you obviously can’t deplete food source for your animals.
Dried fruits & nuts
Dried fruits and nuts act as great rat baits, specifically for the roof rats species. Roof rats differ from black rats (Norway rats) in the fact that they prefer to feed on plant-based matter primarily. This is mostly due to the fact that roof rats spend the majority of their lives in higher locations such as rafters, roofs, treetops, etc. The availability of plant-based matter is more prevalent in these areas and in turn influences the roof rat’s diet. If you have roof rats, consider a plant-based bait.
Rat bait solutions
One of the most common baits is to use chemically manufactured solutions that contain poisons and anticoagulants to kill your rat population from within. These are often made available in block, pellet, bar, and bait form factors and produced by major manufacturers such as Tomcat and D-con.
While these can be effective, there are certainly some things to consider both from a safety and ethics standpoint.
Rat poisons can be extremely dangerous around children and pets, posing an immediate threat if congested by either. If your child or pet has consumed rat poison, contact poison control or head to the emergency room or vet immediately.
From an ethical standpoint, poison is considered to be an inhumane treatment to rats and you run the risk of sending secondary poison up the food chain. For example, if your rats are being scavenged by larger animals secondary poisoning can occur in domestic and wild animals, impacting the landscape from an ecological standpoint.
That’s why using non-toxic baits and certified humane rat traps are a guaranteed way to leave less of a footprint on the environment.
Trapping requires patience, pragmatism, and constant a/b testing. When it comes down to it, the best bait is ultimately whatever works for you. While certain baits will have a shorter lifespan than others and not all baits stand up to the elements equally, the important thing to remember is to remove the primary food source from the equation. Without food scarcity, it is not in the rat’s nature to be exploratory.