About rat bait stations
What is a rat bait station?
A rat bait station is not to be confused with rat traps (the best way to get rid of rats). A bait station will not capture or kill rodents around your property; rather, it is an enclosed box designed to hold and distribute poison. Simply bait the box, securely close it and leave it along rodent trails around your property. Rats and mice will enter via access points around the box, before eating the poisoned bait and going outside to die.
The main advantage of keeping your bait in a bait station is to create a physical barrier between the poison and the external environment. This not only protects wildlife around your property (such as squirrels and birds) but also keeps children and pets safe from exposure to poison.
A rat poison station can be a highly effective way of removing rodents from your business or home and can eliminate the problem in a matter of days.
Who uses rat bait stations?
The purpose of a rat bait station is to create an enclosed area where you can safely place bait and/or traps. This keeps traps and poison away from the curious fingers of children, and out of the mouths of pets. Access points allow rats and mice to get inside, where they eat the bait before going outside to die.
Rat bait stations are recommended for use in households with pets or children, or commercial properties.
- Families with small children. Kids can’t resist poking and prying, which is a big concern if you have to use rat poison or snap traps on your property. A rat bait station is an effective way of keeping hazardous materials out of small hands, as they can be securely locked to prevent tampering.
- People with household pets (cats, dogs, etc). Rat poison can be highly toxic to household pets, so it’s vital that you prevent your dog or cat from consuming any. A sturdy rat bait station can keep bait safely out of reach of cats and dogs, so you needn’t worry about your pets poisoning themselves.
- People who need to eliminate rodents from outside their property. If your garden is becoming overrun with rats and mice, you may need to lay poison or traps outside. This can create a potential problem for the ecosystem of your garden as other animals, such as birds, squirrels or chipmunks, may come into contact with the bait. A well-designed rat bait station can keep other critters out while still allowing rats and mice inside.
Did you know
Most people don’t even realize that they have a rodent infestation. Rats and mice are nocturnal creatures, so are rarely seen during the daytime. If you do see a rodent running across your floor by day, chances are you have a huge infestation! This is because rats and mice breed incredibly quickly. In fact, female rats can mate up to 500 times in a 6 hour period! If you find rats or mice on your property, you need to act immediately to get the problem under control. Buying a rat bait station is a great first step, but it’s also important to use stations effectively.
Clearing up a rodent infestation on a commercial property often requires delicate handling, especially if there are often members of the public coming and going. Rat bait stations can be a more discreet way of handling the problem and can ensure that traps and poison are kept safely out of the way.
Common terms associated with rat bait stations
Bait – Bait is the term used to refer to the rodenticide (poison) used inside rat bait stations. Bait is specially formulated with food products to appeal specifically to rodent pests and is usually highly effective in killing rats and mice.
Some rat bait stations will come with bait included, but others won’t, meaning you’ll have to buy your own. So, what are the main types of rodenticide to look out for?
- Bromethalin – it is one of the most commonly used rodenticides out there. This fast-acting neurotoxin is highly effective in killing rats and mice and a single dose is usually lethal. However, there is no known antidote for bromethalin. This can make the poison dangerous to have around your household if you have pets or children, so it should be used with extreme caution.
- Superwarfarin – it belongs to a class of rodenticides known as Long-acting Anticoagulant Rodenticides (LAARs). This type of poison causes internal bleeding, which is quickly lethal in rats and mice. LAARs are also toxic to larger animals and humans, so it should also be handled with caution if used in the home. Fortunately, accidental poisonings can usually be effectively treated with Vitamin K.
- Cholecalciferol – it is a type of Vitamin D that causes hypercalcemia when ingested, often leading to multiple organ failure. It is a popular method of pest control, but can also be dangerous for pets and humans if accidentally swallowed. Although treatment is available to combat accidental poisoning, this rodenticide should be used with caution.
Baffle – Baffles refer to a physical barrier inside the rat bait station that prevents non-target animals (such as cats, dogs or foxes) from reaching inside. They can also be used to hold bait in place, ensuring it doesn’t fall out if the station is disturbed.
Snap Trap – A ‘snap trap’ is a mechanized trap that manually kills rats and mice. The bait is placed on top of a trigger mechanism, causing the trap to snap shut when disturbed, instantly killing the rodent. This can be a fast and humane way of dispatching rats and mice on your property, though snap traps can only capture one at a time. Snap traps are also easily triggered and are therefore a potential cause of injury, especially when you are setting them up.
How do rat bait stations work?
Rat bait stations are very simple devices. The station is, essentially, a box in which you can securely place poison or traps to kill rats and mice around your property. The station creates a physical barrier between its contents and the external environment, effectively preventing children and pets from coming into contact with the bait. This greatly reduces the chance of injury from traps or accidental poisoning, while ensuring that rodents still have access to the bait.
Rat bait stations usually have several access points to allow rats and mice inside. The rodents then eat the bait before leaving the station. Depending on the type of poison you use, rats and mice will usually die within a week of consuming the bait.
Piece by piece
- The lid – Bait stations usually have a hinged lid that locks when closed and holds bait securely in place to prevent it from falling out. This helps to keep poison and traps safely contained and out of reach of children and household pets. Most rat bait stations can only be opened with a key, ensuring they are completely child tamper-proof.
- The box – The best rat bait stations are constructed from sturdy, durable plastic that cannot easily be cracked or chewed through by other animals (such as dogs). Inside, there will be space to leave either bait or traps, which will be held firmly in place when the box is closed. Some rat bait stations are designed for use only with poison. Others will have space for snap traps inside. Which method you choose to use will usually be down to the number of rodents on your property. If you just have one or two rats or mice to take care of, a snap trap will be sufficient. If you’re dealing with a large infestation, however, poison will be more effective.
- The bait – Bait may or may not be included when you purchase a rat bait station. There are many types of poison bait available, all designed to appeal specifically to rodents. Once consumed, the poison typically causes rodents to seek water. This causes them to move outdoors, where they die.
- The access points – Access points (or entry holes) in rat bait stations are typically around 3 inches in diameter. This is large enough to allow rats and mice to get inside while preventing larger animals from accessing the bait. The more access points a bait station has, the better the distribution of poison among rodents on your property. If you have a big problem with rats and mice, look for a station with a large capacity for bait and several access points.
- The key – Many rat bait stations automatically lock when closed and require a key to open. This tamper-proof mechanism is essential for protecting children and pets from exposure to the box’s contents. This is undoubtedly an important safety feature but can make rebaiting your station a pain if you choose a model with a fiddly locking mechanism.
Use bait stations instead of…
Rat bait stations are an attractive alternative to sticky rat traps and humane traps. Humane traps operate using a trigger mechanism that closes a door when a rodent disturbs the bait inside. This simply traps the rodent without harming it so it can then be released at a site away from your property. If you have only one rat or mouse and don’t mind taking the time to relocate it, this can be an effective solution.
However, if you’re battling an infestation, this is highly unlikely to solve the problem.
Rat bait station buying guide
- How secure you need your rat bait station to be.
- The scale of the problem, i.e. how many rats and mice you have to kill.
The EPA classifies bait stations into four different tiers depending on how secure they are.
This is a handy guide for choosing which type of rat bait station to buy and makes it easy to pick an appropriately secure option. If you need a reliable trap for both indoor and outdoor use, and you also have pets and/or children living on your property, it’s best to look for a ‘Tier 1’ bait station.
Rat bait stations vary significantly in terms of how much bait they can hold. Stations can hold as little as 20g or as much as 2000g of poison, and the size you buy will depend entirely on the size of your infestation. It is also important to take the type of pest into consideration.
Rats will eat significantly more bait than mice, so if you have to eradicate large numbers of rats it’s wise to buy a bait station with a larger capacity.
Most rat bait stations are considered ‘tamper-proof,’ and so include the following features:
- Secure locking: Your rat bait box should lock automatically when the lid is closed. Opening the station should require a key.
- Anchoring features: A tamper-proof rat bait station will have some sort of anchoring feature to keep it securely in place. This will prevent it from being flipped over or dragged away by other animals, helping to keep all bait safely inside.
- Internal structures: Your bait station should be equipped with internal structures, such as baffles, to keep bait and/or traps securely in place. These internal structures can also prevent other animals from reaching inside.
- Rodent entrances: Rat bait boxes should have one or more rodent entrances to allow rats and mice inside. These should be large enough to allow rats inside, but small enough to prevent entry of other, non-target animals.
Some rat bait stations have additional features for improved efficacy and ease of use. These include:
- Bait bars: Bait bars are (usually metal) rods that can be used to skewer bait chunks. This holds the bait securely in place, preventing it from spilling out of the station. It can also hold bait off the ground, preventing it from getting wet or dusty and losing its appeal to rodents. This is a key feature in many rat bait stations that are designed for outdoor use.
- Space for traps: Most bait stations are designed for use with bait only. However, some (such as the Tomcat Rat Bait Station) can also hold snap traps. These contain the rodent within the station once it has been killed, making disposal far easier.
- Wall mounting bracket: If your rodents are gaining access to your property via an elevated route (e.g along drainpipes), it can be a good idea to buy a bait station with a wall mounting bracket. Most stations are designed for use on the ground and can be difficult to secure in high-up places.
- A window: A clear plastic window is a handy feature, as it allows you to easily see when your bait station needs to be refilled. This eliminates the need to open the station and check on the bait, which can be a fiddly process if it requires a key to open.
Top brands you can trust
- Tomcat – Our top choice for rat bait stations, Tomcat has a great reputation for quality and efficacy. Their range of rat bait stations is well constructed, safe, durable and guaranteed to quickly take care of rodents around your home.
- ProTecta – ProTecta is another trusted brand that produces high quality, versatile rat bait stations. ProTecta bait stations are well-designed for effective use and have an excellent success rate.
Rat bait station accessories
Bait securing rods
Bait securing rods can be used to securely fasten bait chunks in place, preventing them from falling/being carried out of the station. They are also useful for keeping bait elevated off the ground, which can help to keep it dry and dust-free.
Station liners can make clean-up a whole lot easier! These thin liners can be placed over the floor of your bait station to make removal of old bait and rat droppings hassle-free.
Zip ties/wall brackets
If you have climbing rats, the rodent trails around your property may be high off the ground. If you want to place your bait station higher up, zip ties and/or wall brackets can be useful for securing the station to fences or drainpipes.
If you are using a rat bait station on a commercial property, it’s a good idea to clearly label the station with its contents.
Expert tips for using your rat bait station
- Place your rat bait station along rodent trails – Identify where the rodent trails around your property are before you place your rat bait station. These will usually be along skirting boards, behind furniture, or near holes. Placing your bait station where rodents are most likely to visit is the best way to guarantee their effectiveness.
- Space out your bait stations – If you’re using more than one bait station at a time, make sure you space them out properly. If you have rats, place bait stations 15 to 50 feet apart. Mice don’t venture as far from their nests as rats do, so bait stations should be placed no more than 12 feet apart.
- Tempt bait-shy rodents – Rats, in particular, can be cautious about new food sources and may be reluctant to take the bait. If your rats are ignoring your bait station, try sprinkling an appealing food (such as cereal) around the bait. This should encourage rats to take a nibble!
- Set up your bait station securely – Rat bait stations are specifically designed to keep traps and poison safely out of reach of children and non-target animals. Many lock automatically when closed and can be securely anchored in place to prevent spillage. Of course, these safety features mean nothing if you don’t use them!
When setting up your rat bait station, always ensure that the lid is securely fastened and that the station can not be easily tipped or moved. This will help to keep bait safely inside so it is not accidentally consumed by children or pets.
- Keep your bait station clean – If your bait begins to get moldy, dusty or musty it may well lose its appeal to rodents. Clearing old bait and droppings out of your bait station when needed will improve its effectiveness, and make sure the rats keep coming back for more.
- When cleaning your bait station, simply sweep old bait out and wipe the interior with a cloth. Using harsh chemicals to clean your rat bait station will likely deter rats from going inside afterward!
- Refill bait stations when needed – You will likely need to refill your rat bait station regularly for the first few days of use. Once the poison starts to do its job you’ll probably find you have less need to restock, and you can get away will refilling your bait station once every week or so. Keeping your bait station adequately stocked is key for its effectiveness. Buying a model with a window can make this process easier, allowing you to quickly see when you need to add bait.
Disposing hazardous materials
When disposing of old bait, make sure you do so in accordance with the instructions on the packaging. Bait contains toxic substances that can be harmful to human health, so use gloves when handling it and make sure you dispose of it safely!
Poison and mechanical traps are both effective methods of dispatching rodents on your property but can present a hazard to children, pets and other non-target animals. A rat bait station is an elegant solution to this problem, as it creates a physical barrier between bait and the external environment. They also create a safe, enclosed environment in which rats are happy to eat.
A well-designed rat bait station can be the perfect way to eliminate rodents on your property, by dealing with the situation in a way that’s both safe and effective!