Understanding rodent control is important when trying to keep your home free of rats and mice. Rat traps can be one of the most effective methods of elimination, but there are a few key things to note before you consider placing traps or rat bait in your home.

Rat traps are helpful in situations where a rat infestation has not already occurred. When attempting to capture one or two rats, a rat trap can ensure that the rodent has been completely removed from the home.

“Trapping is recommended for sensitive environments, such as schools, homes, hospitals or where rat populations are low,” says Stephen M. Vantassel, Extension Project Coordinator of Wildlife Damage at the University of Nebraska. However, Vantassel also cautions that the placement of rat traps is a task that might best be left to professionals. He notes, “While effective, trapping requires more skill and labor than most other methods.”

Rat bait is used in traps to lure rats in. The type of bait may vary. Sometimes, non-toxic items like peanut butter or meat is used, but rat poison can also be added. Caution should be used when adding poisonous bait to a rat trap. The Cooperative Extension at the University of Arizona suggests the following:

“Whenever poison baits are used, all label directions must be explicitly followed. To protect against non-target toxicity, poison baits should be placed in a manner which prevents access to the bait by children, pets, and other non-target species. Where children, pets, or other wildlife may have access, tamper-resistant bait stations are to be used in accordance with label instructions.”

When used cautiously, a mix of toxic and non-toxic bait can be more effective. However, rats may not take to any form of bait within the first few days.

“Rats are neophobic, meaning they tend to avoid anything new found in their environment. It is common for rats to wait two weeks before interacting with traps and toxicants,” Vantassel states. To be successful in using a rat trap, he adds that you should first identify locations where signs of rats are present. Then, place unset traps in these locations so rats become familiar with them. After the rats are used to the traps, you can increase your chances of catching them by setting some traps with bait and some without. It’s also a good idea to ‟use more traps than you think is necessary.”

While rat traps are an effective way to reduce the number of rats in your home, a multi-step process is required to ensure that you have completely eliminated a rat population. Traps and baits can be dangerous and hard to manage. To build a comprehensive solution that removes rats from your home and helps prevent future rats from moving in, make the easy call. Contact Terminix® and let a pest management professional make the hard calls for you.