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Rats Won’t Go Near Traps: What Am I Doing Wrong?

a rat that is staring at a trap but won't go near it

It’s stressful enough to discover there might be rats in or around your home. It’s downright maddening to spend valuable time and money to set traps—only to find that the rats won’t go near your traps. If this kind of infuriating situation is happening to you, don’t panic. And know you aren’t alone. Rats are much more intelligent than many homeowners realize. For example, studies have shown that rats recognize when foods result in harm to another rat in the colony, and then actively avoid these foods in the future. They also notice when an object like a trap is a new addition to their environment, and they avoid it.

One way to get around this hurdle and convince rats to approach the trap is to trick them into thinking the trap is a safe object. Start by placing bait on your trap, but don’t set it quite yet. Once you notice that something is eating or stealing the bait, place fresh bait on the trap and set it. If the rats have been avoiding the trap because they were suspicious or afraid, this trick should help attract them to the trap.

Some other reasons that rats might be avoiding the traps you set include the type of bait you’re using, the type of traps you’re using and the numbers of traps you’re setting. For one, rats—like people—have food preferences, which means they might not be attracted to the bait you’re using. Similarly, the rats might be getting food from another source, which means they aren’t hungry and won’t be attracted to the bait on your trap—no matter how tasty it is.

That’s why it’s critical to eliminate anything that might serve as a source of food for rats. For example, if your pet doesn’t eat all of its food, it’s important to dispose of the uneaten portion instead of leaving it in the bowl. Likewise, you’ll want to store pet food in a plastic bin with a top or another secure container because rats can often chew through the bags that pet food comes in. You may have already noticed damage to food containers if you store pet or bird food in your garage or other areas where rodents and other types of wildlife can access it.

Additionally, it’s important to use a sufficient number of traps and place them around 10 to 20 feet apart to increase your chance of success. Use at least 3 snap traps in problem areas for best results. Otherwise, if a rat triggers a trap but isn’t caught by that trap or another nearby trap, then they might begin to avoid them, making it difficult to catch these pests. Set the traps along a fence, wall or another linear edge with the triggers facing that surface or perpendicular to the surface with triggers facing away from each other.

Furthermore, rats multiply quickly—females can give birth as often as seven times each year and might have a dozen babies in each litter. This means that even if you catch a rat, that might not eliminate your problem if you haven’t set multiple traps. Depending on the scale of the infestation in your home, you might need to set a dozen or more traps.

Another common situation is when something is eating the bait off the traps, but the traps aren’t catching any rodents. This can happen if the traps aren’t sensitive enough, so it takes a heavy force to trigger them. Alternatively, it’s possible that something besides a rat is stealing the bait. For instance, insects like cockroaches are light enough that they might be able to take food meant for rats without triggering the trap.

Another possibility is that the trap isn’t sufficiently holding the bait. If you use a small or solid piece of bait, it might be easy for rats to steal the food without triggering the trap. To remedy this problem, secure the bait to the trap with glue or string, or use a type of bait that rats must lick the trap instead of using something they can grab.

It’s often challenging for homeowners to know what works best to capture rats. Plus, monitoring and clearing traps is time-consuming and can present health risks. However, you don’t have to deal with this messy issue on your own. Rodent control professionals can help simplify your life by taking care of everything for you, so you can focus on more important priorities like your work and family. These specialists have the knowledge and experience to control these pests effectively and efficiently, and can help prevent additional infestations in the future.

When it comes to controlling pests, including rats, it’s always helpful to educate yourself on the most successful tactics that a rodent control specialist may suggest. For example, it’s helpful to learn about the best rat bait for traps.

Cheese on a trap which is actually not one of the best rat baits

What Is the Best Rat Bait?

Using the best bait is often critical to helping you trap rats, and it’s important to replace it regularly. If the bait sits for too long, then it might lose its smell and might no longer be appetizing for rats. Some of the best baits to put in traps include snacks, such as:

  • peanut butter,
  • gumdrops,
  • dried fruit,
  • raisin bread,
  • unshelled nuts,
  • bacon,
  • kitchen scraps or
  • pet food.

If these types of food aren’t working, it might be helpful to use higher quality fare like fresh meat or fish as bait. It’s also important to keep in mind that different kinds of bait might be attractive, depending on whether you have roof rats or Norway rats. For example, roof rats (also called black rats) are often more attracted to snails, oranges, other types of citrus, avocados and berries. Meanwhile, cereal grains or meat might be a better lure for Norway rats (sometimes called sewer rats or brown rats).

Beyond using an effective rat bait, as we mentioned, placing traps in strategic locations can also help improve your chances of catching these animals. As a means of survival, rats typically travel under cover or along the shortest routes possible. They’re unlikely to travel out into the middle of a room—no matter how good your bait looks.

That’s why it’s important to place traps in places where rats feel safest, such as sheltered spots behind boxes and along routes that rats typically travel. Depending on the type of rats that you have in your home, their travel path might be near the wall or up on a ledge or rafter.

It’s confusing for homeowners to try to figure out what kind of rats they have and determine the type of bait and trap location that will work best for that specific type of rodent. That’s why a rodent control specialist is typically the best person to handle trapping and removing rats from your home.

These professionals know what to put in the traps, where to put them and how often to check them. They also have the proper safety gear to remove any trapped rats, so you don’t have to take any risks. Even better, they can also provide you with helpful information on how to make your backyard less attractive to rats, which can be a crucial part of an effective pest control plan.

a rat in a garden which has led a homeowner to wonder how to get rid of rats outside

How to Get Rid of Rats Outside

Homeowners who spot rats outside their home might unknowingly be attracting them with their garden, compost pile or trash. If these areas close to your house aren’t treated properly, it makes it more likely that rats and other unwelcome guests could make it inside your home. However, taking some things you can try to make these areas less appealing to rodents can help you deal with the current problem and help prevent future pest issues.

Rats are most commonly attracted to gardens, trash cans and compost piles when they sense easy access to food. Some ways you can reduce rats’ access to these food sources and deter rats from your yard include:

  • using trash cans with a secure lid and which are made of metal, plastic or another durable material;
  • picking up fruit, bird seed, uneaten dog food, crumbs from outdoor picnics or other food that falls on the ground;
  • using a contained compost system in a rodent-resistant receptacle with a tight-fitting lid;
  • clearing log piles, clutter in your garage or storage shed, tall weeds, ivy, tree branches or vegetation close to your home’s structure and other areas that rats might use for shelter;
  • not putting smelly food like chicken scraps in your trash can until garbage day;
  • only putting garden refuse—no food scraps like animal fat, grains or meat—in your compost bin;
  • promptly cleaning up pet excrement, as rats could eat dog poop;
  • draining areas with standing water and install drainage systems in areas of your property where water has a tendency to pool and
  • working with your neighbors to help ensure your community is free of areas that might attract rodents.

Unfortunately, rats sometimes decide to make themselves at home even if you follow all of these steps—even in what seems to be the tidiest of yards. If you are dealing with a rat problem, the best way to handle rodent control is to contact a wildlife control specialist. Homeowners who try to handle rodent issues on their own without the expertise to handle this kind of serious matter often find they have to deal with the same pest issues over and over again. Additionally, they might expose themselves and their families to health hazards. If you call a pro, they can help save you time, money and stress by getting rid of rodents for you.

ABC Can Effectively Trap and Remove Rodents

Rats can be particularly difficult to get rid of, and creating an effective pest control plan for these creatures requires extensive knowledge of their habits and behavior. Instead of spending your time and energy setting traps, let the pros at ABC Home & Commercial Services do the hard work for you. Our specialists have the skills and experience necessary to take care of the problem and will strategically set traps and then remove all unwanted creatures. With ABC’s help, you can help you take your home back from these unwelcome guests.

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