A quick breakdown of the best rat traps
Live cage rat traps
This is one of the more popular and also most humane options when it comes to capturing rats. Live cage traps can utilize several different trigger mechanisms but they all work on the same principle – you place the bait inside the trap on a special plate. The plate is sensitive to any and all motions so whenever someone touches the bait the plate triggers a spring or another locking mechanism that shuts the gate behind the rodent’s back.
Such live cage traps can be made out of wire mesh or from any other material but they need to be sturdy and be able to survive excessive chewing since captured rats will do anything they can to get out. It also helps if the locking mechanism is situated out of the captured animal’s reach so that it doesn’t get damaged.
The chief problems with live cage rats are:
- Captured rats can damage the locking or trigger mechanisms and render the trap unusable for future occasions.
- If you leave a rat in the cage for too long other rats around him will figure out that getting inside the cage is a bad idea and will avoid the trap from then on, thus rendering it less useful.
Live bucket rat traps
Another popular live trap option, bucket traps come in different models and designs, but they all work on the same idea – bait the rats to come to the edge of a big bucket then force them to fall inside the bucket and make sure that they can’t leave it. The most popular designs are roller traps that are made out of metal or plastic rolls laid over the bucket from which the rats will drop inside but there are other variants too. The advantage of such traps is that they are self-resetting and can capture multiple rats at once. Their main disadvantage is that if the rats are too big or too numerous or if the bucket is too small, the rats might be able to get out of it.
Another chief problem with both bucket rat trap and cage trap is that you’ll have to find a suitable way to deal with the captured animal, usually by transporting it away from your property into an unpopulated area.
On to some lethal options, snap spring rat traps are the most well-known and classic type of rat traps. Similar to live cage traps they work by placing the bait on a trigger plate. However, once the plate has been triggered, instead of shutting a door behind the rat, the trap shuts a metal rod over the rat’s neck, usually breaking it instantly. These traps are considered a relatively “humane” option as they often kill the rodents instantly, but if the trap is not big enough or strong enough it may not do so. A lot of rat snap traps have interlocking jaws on their snapping tools to make sure that the prey won’t be able to get away should it survive the initial trap. This increases the traps’ effectiveness but also turns them into more of a “capture and torture” kind of trap than an instant-kill “humane” one.
Electronic “zapper” traps
Zappers are another type of traps that are supposed to kill rats instantly. They resemble cages but when a rat gets inside there is no door behind them that can capture them inside. Best electronic rat trap deliver powerful electric shocks to the animals inside of them with the intention of killing them instantly. When it works, this can be a relatively “humane” way to kill a rodent, but very often the electric shock is weaker than advertised and doesn’t instantly kill the animals (especially bigger and stronger rats). This can result either in a successful escape or in a slow and horrifying death. There are plenty of cases where the rats get slowly fried for several minutes until they eventually die in an agonizing way. Needless to say, even if you don’t care how the rats die, zapper traps need some extensive cleaning after each killed rat.
Glue rat traps
Glue traps take the cake when it comes to slow and agonizing deaths. These devices work on such a simple principle that even the word “device” is often too much for them. Glue traps typically consist of just a plate or a leather strap that has a thick layer of glue on top of it – and that’s it. All you need to do is place some bait in the middle of the adhesive and wait for rats to come for it and get stuck on the glue. If the adhesive is strong enough it will hold onto the rats either until you come to dispose of them or until they:
- Rip their flesh or limbs off of it and bleed out;
- Break their own necks in an attempt to escape;
- Suffocate on the glue by accidentally sticking their noses in it;
- Die from dehydration if you leave them there for long enough.
Needless to say, it’s clear why glue traps are largely regarded as the most horrific ways to hunt rodents. Still, if you are looking for effectiveness and effectiveness only, they are an option.
Rat trap buying guide
The first and foremost thing to consider is the quality of the trap. It almost doesn’t matter what design or model you are going to choose if it is of poor quality. Of course, every manufacturer claims to offer high-quality products so you’ll, unfortunately, have to rely on consumer reviews and industry professional reviews. Both types have their drawbacks and biases but if you read enough of them you will start to get a clear picture of what’s worth buying and what – not so much.
Another thing to keep an eye on when it comes to quality is the products’ brands. Branding is not a sure-fire way to judge quality but it’s a thing to consider. Here are some of the brands we’d recommend: Havahart, Tomcat, Goodnature among others.
Aside from quality, the next question to ask is what type of trap you need:
- Do you want to capture rats in a humane manner instead of killing them? Consider a live cage or bucket trap.
- Do you want to kill rats in a quick and easy fashion? The classic snap traps are a good option.
- Do you want to get rid of large numbers of rats at once with no care for how gross or hard-to-look at it might get? Big glue traps have that potential.
Rat trapping tips
A lot of rat traps come pre-baited but we’d honestly advise you to find a good food bait on your own even if that’s the case. Also, keep in mind that different types of rats have different dietary preferences.
Norway (brown) rats prefer different things than Roof (black) rats, even though both types are still omnivores and can eat anything. So, if you know what you’re dealing with, you’ll do better to customize your baits according to your situation.
Food baits for Roof rats
Once you’ve armed yourself with the needed knowledge, here are some food baits to consider for Roof (black) rats:
- Dried fruits
- Berries and fresh fruits
- Peanut butter
- Insects or slugs
- Inedible nesting materials such as dental floss, pieces of fabric, etc
Food baits for Norway rats
For Norway (brown) rats, there is a larger variety of options to choose from since they are even less picky in their eating habits than their smaller Roof counterparts:
- Peanut butter
- Fruits or berries
- Other smelly meat products such as slices of sausage
- Nesting materials
- Living with and using rat traps
How to properly use traps
Properly using rat traps – almost regardless of their type and design – is all about finding the right location. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve baited a rat trap if it is located away from the travel routes of your rat invaders they may never get inside of it.
So, before setting up your traps, it’s a good idea to carefully figure out where exactly do your rats move through – where are their nests, where are their feeding locations, and how do they traverse between one and the other.
Rats are cautious
Rats are also more cautious to new things than mice, so expect them to keep away from rat traps at first. In fact, it is a smart idea to first leave baited but inactive traps to gain the rodents’ trust and to start setting up the active traps in a day or two.
Aside from that, other good tips for rat control is to keep your property well-sanitized as you’re dealing with the rat infestation – the more dirt, food leftovers and other “rat attractants” there are, the less interested will the rats be in your baits and traps.
Another good thing to do is to seal off and maintain your property as you don’t want more rodent invaders coming in from the outside while you’re dealing with the ones that have already gotten through.
Lastly, almost regardless of what type of trap you’re using, remember to check up on them frequently. Dealing with killed or captured rats as soon as possible is important not only for “humane” reasons but also so that the other rats don’t notice and figure out the danger of the traps. Rats are incredibly intelligent creatures so if they see another captured or killed rat they can quickly understand what has happened and that they should avoid your future traps. This is also a good reason to consider using multiple different rat trap designs at once, as well as using a combination of rat trap and rat poison.
So, to wrap things up, here are once again our Top 3 choices for the best rat traps out there:
- This Kensizer Humane Live Cage Trap has all the hallmarks of a great cage trap – good quality materials, great wire mesh, perfect design, sensitive trigger mechanism, and fast door action. It’s large enough for most rats and it is very easy to use.
- AB Traps Rat Snapper with a great EZ-Set Predator Snap Trap design that makes it very easy to set up. This trap also has a very fast snap and a deceptively strong bite, despite its plastic body. It’s not as big as other snap traps but if it’s big enough for your rodent invaders then it’s defiantly recommended.
- Tomcat Rat Snap Trap is different than the AB Traps snap trap both in size and in design – it’s significantly larger and has a much more defined jaws that serve to keep the rodent trapped even if it has survived. With this trap, even the biggest and strongest rats will either be killed or trapped, with no exceptions.