Why Rats Aren't Eating Your Bait (Food Competition)

June 04, 2020 5 min read

To catch a rat, you must rely on your bait. Traditional types of bait include cheese, peanut butter, bacon, cereals, or meats. However, rats can be picky. You might get one who likes peanut butter, but another might pass on it.

It all comes down to the type of rodent you want to catch and their personal preferences. There are many different species of rats with different appetites. The first step in catching your rodent pests is knowing what kind is hanging out in your home. 



The Norway Rat 

The most common rat is the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus). This species originally came from China, but you can find them just about anywhere except for Antarctica as it’s much too cold there. 

The Norway rat is typically brown or gray or a mixture of the two hues. They can get as large as 16,”. These rodents will eat anything, which is why they are often found in lower areas like basements, sewers, crawlspaces, and the other regions underground. 

Catching this rat will require a strong trap, but the food choices aren't as particular as other species. They will be eager to eat and are known to eat a variety of foods.

Revolutionary, automatic, and toxin-free rat and mouse control for your home or business.

Though these rats don’t like cold weather, they are robust and can survive the harshest of situations. They’re also very intelligent, so these animals can take your bait without setting off a trap, which means they can often outsmart spring traps.

For rat trap success with these vermin, try feeding the Norway rat the following foods: 

  • peanut butter and nuts
  • bacon
  • dried fruits of all kinds
  • hot dogs or sausages
  • gumdrops, chocolates, or similar candies
  • unflavored dental floss

black rat

The Black Rat 

The black rat (Rattus rattusis a bit smaller than the Norway rat. They can grow to about 12” in length. These vermin prefer more tropical climates, so they don’t typically venture much further than 300 miles inland. They originated in Asia but have made their way to the US. They have black or brownish fur, and a blunted nose. 

The black rat doesn’t do well with cold weather, so they will harbor in the attic, chimney, or on a roof. They have often been dubbed a ship rat because they love to burrow into crates being shipped and were usually found aboard boats. 

While these critters are just as intelligent as other varieties, they have a picky palette. You can’t just throw anything on a trap and expect to catch them. 

To have rat trap success with this rat requires some skill as they are very picky about their diet. In their native lands, they prefer to hang out in palm trees. They feast on the leaves and any rotting vegetation near those areas. Since they're vegetarians, you cannot put bacon on the trap and expect them to bite.

To feed the black rat, try the following foods:

  • dried fruit and berries
  • slugs, snails, or snail shells
  • nuts of all varieties and peanut butter
  • unflavored dental floss

Tips and Tricks 

One of the best ways to lure vermin is to set rat bait around to see which type they prefer. You can identify if it’s a Norway or a black variety only by their food preferences. 

If it’s a significant problem, then you should invest in a trap camera that will let you get up close and personal with the pest you want to capture. Once you’ve identified it, then you can quickly know how to proceed. 

1.  Let Them Sample Some Foods Before Setting the Trap

Did you know that both the rat and mouse can’t vomit? If it’s a new food they haven’t eaten, they will only sample tiny bits until they can ensure that they won’t get sick. 

Due to their skittish nature of new foods, it’s best to scatter different things around so that they will develop a taste for it. Once they see that they can tolerate it and it’s tasty food, they won’t mind biting it on a trap. If you rush too soon with the traps, they could avoid the bait altogether.

peanut butter

2. Make the Rat Bait the Right Size and Shape 

You must understand how rats eat to be able to get the food the right size and shape. They hold things between their paws, so you don’t want to make the food too big. Think of the size and shape of a chicken nugget versus a hot dog.

The chicken nugget would be too big for them to hold and handle. However, the hot dog has a longer and skinnier shape, which makes it easier to grab. Now, they cannot grasp an entire hot dog, but make the rat bait you use similar to that shape. 

3. Get Creative with Smelly Bait and Rat Attractants 

One of the reasons why you find rats luring in damp, moldy places is because they love the smell. If you put a stinky cheese like Limburger on your trap, it will be more attractive. They love to eat wood and cardboard too, so keep in mind their preferences when capturing them. 

Another trick that you can use is to invest in a product called rat breath odor. It’s an attractant that lets them know that it’s a friendly space for them. A rat doesn’t want to get into danger, so they sniff to see if other vermin have frequented it. You can only use a tiny amount to lure them to the traps. Overdoing it can cause the opposite effect. If you want to keep rodents out of an area, then use these attractants. 

chicken feed

Food Competition 

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is putting food on the trap plate and nowhere else. Make sure you put some under and on the back of it too. You want them to step onto or into the device to get more sustenance. The snap trap is the most often used variety. However, it can be a pain to set and reset them continuously. Often times, rats figure out how to take bait without triggering a snap trap.

Food competition in the rodent kingdom is fierce. The food you put out in a trap must be comparable to what they eat, or they won't touch it. Plus, they may already be full when they come to your home and looking to nest rather than have a meal. You can't feed a rat that isn't hungry. Thankfully, there are other options to get rid of critters that doesn't require you worry about baiting or resetting those traps. 

The Automatic Trap doesn't require any of that hard work from you. The powerful CO2 canister in this device makes rat and mouse problems a thing of the past. You can simply set it and let it do the work. The only thing you need to do is pick up the carcasses.  However,  predators will often carry them off when the trap is used outdoors.

It's safe around pets and children and doesn't need electricity to work. You can put it anywhere in the barn, attic, or even the basement. Now, you can have pest-free homes and outbuildings and won't need to barely lift a finger. It’s easy to see that the Automatic Trap is the better option.

The Homeowners Guide To Catching Rats & Mice

Every year, rats and mice enter 20 million U.S. homes uninvited. They reproduce rapidly, and can cost thousands of dollars in damages and extermination costs. They can ruin equipment, spoil food and start fires by chewing on wires.

We’ve trapped millions (seriously, millions) of rats and mice and the knowledge of what it takes to achieve success is highlighted in this guide.

Homehowners Guide to Catching Rats


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