Rats are very offensive rodents to have in your home. From destroying your home, scattering droppings and urine everywhere to even transferring disease to your loved ones, rats are not the best guests for any homeowner. Fortunately, you can solve rat infestation by trapping the rats.
Lethal traps and live traps are some of the best ways to trap a rat. Snap traps will kill the rat instantly upon catching it while live cage traps will catch it alive for you in case you want to move it somewhere else. You can also use glue traps to get the rat stuck, although it is not a humane option.
Successfully trapping a rat involves more than just baiting a trap. Observation and technique are very vital elements as rats are smart enough to evade regular traps. You have to know the habits and possible routine of the rat, the species, population as well as what bait and conditions will work best to trap it.
How to Trap a Rat in the Attic
Rats are fond of nesting in attics. This is characteristic of roof rats. They will not easily shelter in the wild or septic tanks; they are more comfortable in the warmth and serenity of your attic. There they can massively multiply damaging wood, radiant heat systems, chewing on PVC pipes and electric wires. This can cause dangerous exposure of electric wires, faulty insulations, and even a fire hazard. Therefore, it is paramount to trap the rat in the attic.
Depending on the population of the rats in your attic, you can choose between live traps or lethal snap traps. If the rats are not many, you can use live trap to catch the rats and remove them. However, if you have a full-scale rat infestation, it works best to resort to lethal traps.
Relocating rats isn’t the best option either as rats are typically rodents and will most likely go on to ravage another home or fall prey to a predator in the wild. Most attic rats when displaced barely last 28 hours outside the habitat they are already accustomed to.
Lethal traps are therefore the most humane approach in curtailing the menace of rats. While the prevalent types are snap traps and glue traps, there are now also advanced tech traps like electric kill traps where the rat is immediately electrified by sending a bolt of electricity directly to its brain. Electric rat traps are quite luxurious, and you can better make do with cheaper and more common options like clasp traps.
We will not recommend glue traps because the way the rat die is more painful and prolonged. Most snap traps quickly kill the rat by rupturing the rat’s spinal cord with accurate pressure. Snap traps work the best with baits. You can use very cheap bait like peanut butter or spend a bit more on buying bacon. Make sure to place them in the right place, and it will catch the rats in the attic.
It would surprise you to learn that the strategic placement of the trap is far more decisive than your choice of bait. You can use attractive baits like chocolate and peanut butter, but you may not catch the attic rats if you place them wrongly. On the other hand, you can yet catch the rats (albeit with lesser efficacy) if you locate the snap trap accurately even without bait. Places like where you regularly find rat droppings, urine, trails, insulation damage, and brown rat grease have higher chances of catching the rat in your attic.
What is the Best Rat Bait?
Nonetheless, the bait you choose to use will significantly affect the success of the rat trapping. Rather than embark on a trial and error approach, here are some of the best baits that rats can’t resist.
Peanut butter will come first on the list because rats love it badly. More also, peanut butter isn’t poisonous with no toxic component. Rats are easily lured into traps baited with a scoop of peanut butter. The smell quickly pulls them in. You can spread the peanut butter on the trap trigger, making sure the trap is kept where the rat frequents.
Rats also like chocolate. Chocolate is not poisonous too as it is toxic-free. Chocolate has more durability than other baits as they can stay up to four weeks without getting bad. Chocolate is indifferent to weather as it is known to remain stable even with changing conditions.
The aroma of chocolate will lure the rat. This aroma is strong, distinct, and lasting. For the fact that chocolate is rarer than most rat foods, they quickly catch the smell and are drawn irresistibly to it.
If you can’t get peanut butter or chocolate, no problem. You can yet use foods that you notice the rat in your home already enjoys eating. This can be birdseed or the food of your pets like dogs. If you perceive that the rats in your home also like vegetables, you can yet use them as baits to attract the rat to the trap. You can even mix peanut butter with chocolate. There is flexibility to choose what works peculiarly for the rats in your house.
We will discourage you from using cheese however, the popularity of the cheese as rats’ favorite meal. This is because not all rats like cheese. For some subspecies, cheese is a complete turnoff for them. Also, not every type of cheese scents well enough to pull in rats. This is why we prescribed the bait options mentioned above for you.
What are Rats Afraid of?
Rats are very protective animals and will not like to be faced with clear threats. They would rather stay off. Commonly rats are scared of predators. Should you have animals that prey on rats in your house or your compound, rats will avoid your property. Rats can also tell the presence of a predator accurately just from its smell. This will scare them off.
Rats fear cats
The fear rats have for cats is well known. Cats have a keen relish for hunting rats. Wild cats like mountain cats and bobcats have sharper rat hunting instincts than your regular house cat that has been domesticated. Feral cats are better at killing rats and mice and are commonly used in urban areas to solve rat crisis.
Rats are scared of birds that prey on them
Rats fear birds like eagles, falcons, hawks, raptor, and owls because they hunt them. In the US and other North American regions, red tail hawks and falcons are some of the most avid birds that hunt rats during the day. The barn owl mostly hunts rats at night.
Rats fear weasels too
Weasels enjoy feasting on rats. In North America, it is common to see long-tailed weasels hunting rats and other smaller rodents. These weasels boast speed and hunting efficiency and are very acute in hunting rats by night. Rats fear weasels badly just like cats; weasels can easily pick out the hiding place of the rat from just the smell of the rat. Weasels can also be deployed effectively in controlling the population of rats.
Rats don’t like the smell of chemicals
Just like predators, rats don’t like the smell of chemicals like mothballs. This is notably because of the smell of naphthalene. This chemical smell ideally can scare a rat out of your home. However, in reality, using such chemicals are unsafe because of their toxicity. To successfully scare rats with these chemical smells, you will need bulk quantities of these chemicals which may be also dangerous to human inhalation because of how toxic they are.
You can better deter rats with natural smells
Chemicals smells are dangerous and can harm you and your loved ones. You can better do with natural smells. The likes of eucalyptus and peppermint effuse distinct smells that scare rats away. These natural smells are very effective in repelling rats off and preventing them from enjoyably nesting in your home and premises.
Are Rats Dirty?
For the fact that rats tend to thrive in dirty surroundings, you can easily mistake them for dirty animals. On the contrary, rats are not dirty – at least they are not dirtier than your typical pet. Most rats exhibit incredible levels of personal hygiene, just as you will see from your house dog. Many rats groom themselves repeatedly in day, thereby reducing their likelihood of transmitting virus and parasites.
It is a common habit of rats to get rid of stain or dirt in their fur quickly. If you have rats in cages, they maintain proper hygienic levels with impressive levels of coordination, especially in a colony of rats. If you have a rat for pet, you barely need to wash them. The need for washing only comes in for rats that don’t regularly groom most likely because of obesity, old age, or they are suffering arthritis.
Are Rats Smart?
Despite being small and seen as terrible rodents, rats boast impressive intelligence levels for animals. Rats are good learners, just like your dog. They are as discerning as well and can discover things on their own. Rats have high memory levels as well. Such intelligence comes together to compensate for their poor eyesight, allowing them seamless navigation, running around routes they have already mastered.
It will amaze you to learn that despite being far smaller than the human brain, the brain of a rat shares a similar structure with the human brain. This results in exciting similarities between the way the human brain works and the way that of a rat works. While not having high visual capacity, similar structure have found that rats can yet intelligently figure out recognize 3-D objects even in the face of modifications in the orientation of these objects.
Rats also show admirable intelligence when in a community. A rat can send a message to another rat through its urine. This urine contains pheromones which are symbolic between rats. Tail drumming between rats shows aggression as well. Rats can communicate effectively between themselves using intelligent chirps and squeaks. Some of these communication methods work with such rare ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) that humans will struggle to discern them. Do you also know that mice can sing?
Rats are communal beings with a tendency to help each other when confronted with challenges. They can tell when their fellow is in pain and what they can do to alleviate the condition. Also, rats exhibit intelligence in being very selective. Rats can tell the choicest part of a meal to eat, leaving the rest.
Rat Trapping Tips
As we said earlier, trapping rats successfully requires technique and tact. Here are some tips to increase your chances of trapping rats in your home.
Make sure the rats are located in the perfect position
Rat traps will not work just anywhere. They have to be situated rightly. Rats will not carelessly run across the center of your room; they are drawn more to secluded areas with reduced lighting. If you can tell the regular path of the rat, you can situate your trap there. Otherwise, there are also great places like fences and walls to locate your traps as rats are fond of using such structures as guides. You can also outthink the rat by placing your trap in areas like your closet, cabinets, and chair.
Use bait they love
To be enticed into these traps, you must use baits that can lure the rat. In most cases, this is successfully done using what the rat loves eating. Just like humans, the generality of rats are omnivores, although the black rat is mainly herbivorous. For the latter, cheese, vegetables, chocolate, and peanut butter may just be excellent. Otherwise, you can use other baits like bacon that rats famously love.
Make sure they get used to the traps
Rats exhibit rare instinctive intelligence. This goes a long way in keeping them safe. Once rats notice changes in their environments or the addition of new objects, they will get skeptical of contacting these objects. Therefore it is crucial to get the rats to trust these traps enough to interact with them.
With this in mind, if you introduce a trap in a rat habitat and hurriedly set it, expect the rats to avoid it. A wiser approach is introducing the rat trap without setting it. This way, the rats can get used to it and trust its harmlessness. Allow them to take the bait for free from these traps for a day or two as they acclimatize to the trap.
When you begin to notice things like rat droppings and urine around the trap, you can now be sure the rats feel free around the trap. Then is the perfect time to bait it and set it. The unsuspecting rats will again come to the trap being already used to it. However, this time, it will catch them. Even if you don’t bait the trap, there is yet a possibility of the rats bumping against it or running across it since it is already normal to them. This will catch them.
Avoid using poisonous bait
Often, the rats may not be immediately trapped when they take off the bait. This is why you shouldn’t use poisonous baits. First, they are inhumane, causing the rats to die a slow and painful death. Secondly, your pets and even little ones can come in contact with these baits making it very dangerous if they are poisonous.
Do Rats Bite Sleeping Babies?
While cases of rats biting sleeping babies are not very common, they are not totally impossible. However, this is not usually a sign of unprovoked aggression. In urban settings, rats are most active during the night. This is when your little kids or babies may be sleeping. Your babies may possibly wake when these rats are near them, and it can frighten the rat, causing them to bite the baby in self-defense.
Rats can also bite your babies in their sleep when your babies have food residues around them on the bed. Possibly, they may have fallen asleep when they were eating. These rats may go as far as even eating the fingers, toes, and hands of the toddler. This is done most times in gentle nibbles which would rarely wake your baby.
There are also cases where rats may mistake your babies for some big meal and try to taste them. Therefore, they may gnaw on their body or even their face as they try to ascertain whether the baby is edible. These wounds can bleed, they can also get infected and should be promptly treated.
Do Rats Dig Holes?
Rats are survivors and can adapt to some of the harshest living conditions. This can also be credited to their digging abilities. It is worth noting here that not all rats can dig. Urban rats can’t dig as proficiently as wild rats. Urban rats are more accustomed to staying in reserves areas like your attic.
Rats tend to nest in the holes they dig. These may not be very big holes. Their typical diameter can be two inches and are prevalently dug in the garden. Most times, you may not even notice these holes.
One curious thing about rats is that they can just dig a hole and choose not to live in it. You can’t always tell a rat hole when you see it. It may not be any different from any other rodent hole or even a water hole. However, you can have a more accurate clue of the animal residing in a hole from its dropping. Rats can even stay in holes other animals dig. Otherwise, they would nest in the pockets of hollow trees.
While rats can claw hard, you will agree that they can’t dig through every material. Rats find it easier to dig into soil or moist materials already softened by permeation of water. In urban scenarios, rats can dig a bit into weakening concrete or wood. They may have little success digging into uncut stones or fresh brick.
What Poison Kills Rats Instantly?
While some poisons take weeks to kill rats, others kill the rat almost instantly. Metal phosphides are notably the quickest killing rat poisons. These substances rank top among the most effective rodenticides for rats and the general rodent family.
By standard, a single dose of metal phosphides can kill the rat within 24 hours. If the rat doesn’t die within the first day after ingesting such dose of metal phosphides, it is most likely to die within three days at most.
Metal phosphides like zinc phosphide can be mixed with the bait you give the rat. When the rats eat this poisoned food, the zinc phosphide will quickly react with their acids in their digestive tract. This triggers the formation of toxic phosphine gas. Such substance will quickly kill the rat.
Metal phosphides can be resorted to when the rats are already growing resistance to anticoagulants. Zinc phosphides particularly are less expensive compared to second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) and be very useful in reducing large rat populations. Should the rat survive the zinc phosphide poison, it will still be killed when it continuously feeds on the anticoagulant bait.
Are Rats Scared of Cats?
Cats are some of the foremost hunters of rats. Rats fear cats, especially wild cats that have honed their hunting skills courtesy of having to procure their meals themselves in contrast to house cats that are fed by their owners.
Cats inherently learn rat hunting from their mothers when the mothers hunt rats at night. Otherwise, you will see that your house cats like your regular kitty may end up having no appetite or flair for hunting rats.
Rats are very scared of mountain cats and bobcats as well. It would interest you to learn that rats are gripped with fear when they detect some specific proteins called mups in cat saliva. This sense of alarm is automatically triggered by the mups acting on the vomeronasal sensory organ of the rat. Cats can warn off rats from specific territories by marking them with their urine.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare