If your home has been infested by rodents and, more specifically, rats, you know how frustrating it is to resolve the problem. Fortunately, you are not alone. A rat invasion can occur to anyone, and it is not always a by-product or lack of cleanliness. Notably, 30% of US households have had a rodent infestation. Trapping rats can be daunting since they are smart and extremely adaptive to their environment. In this blog, we will discuss some of the challenges to catching rats in your home or business.
1. Food Competition
Food competition can be a huge challenge for new rat trappers. Contrary to what people may think, rats are really quite picky about what they eat. They eat food that is familiar to them and they know is safe. People with pets or farm animals may encounter rats eating their dog/cat food, chicken feed, etc. When this happens, rats become accustomed to that food source. If you're trapping with a lure that is entirely different, they may not be interested. Why change restaurants when the meal at the buffet is all you can eat!
When you leave food scattered all over, you create food abundance and it is likely the rats won’t go to the traps to search for food. It is very important to keep trapping areas clear of waste, trash, pet food or any food that could be supplying the animals with a food source.
Neophobia refers to the fear of trying something new, especially an abnormal and persistent fear. Rats are notoriously neophobic and will rarely feed on newly introduced foods.
If rats are unfamiliar with the lure being used in your trap, they may not trust it and will ignore your trapping environment. It may be hard to believe a rat would not be attracted to a big piece of cheese or peanut butter, but if they have never encountered it before, it would be a new food to them and they may be cautious. In fact, rats even go as far as smelling each others breath to recognize safe food sources.
3. Improper lure for species
Different lures may sometimes work better for different rat species. For instance, Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) prefer foods rich in fats, sugar, and protein. Some say the prefer foods such as: bacon, dried fruit, peanut butter, and gumdrops.
On the contrary, roof rats (Rattus rattus) prefer plant-based foods such as fruits and nuts. Some say the prefer foods such as: berries, nuts, peanut butter, and dried fruit. There is some cross-over here, but it is good to note that rat species can behave differently. This means knowing the best bait for the rat species could help create a lure that appeals to the specific rats you are trying to trap. Without the use of proper lure, you might find a lack of success.
4. Setting traps in the wrong location
Rats prefer cover and shelter, minimizing their exposure whenever possible. They like to use walls, fences or roof timbers whenever travelling. That means they may not roam in the open yard or room. With this, when placing the traps out of the rat's pathway, it is likely you won't be able to trap them. As a result, the traps are more effective when set and placed along a pathway, wall/fence, or in shelter or coverage where you are aware of rat activity.
Other key locations include placing traps under furniture, cabinets, sitting along walls, and inside closets. Setting and placing traps in a wrong location is a sure way to sideline your trap’s success.
5. Not pre-feeding for rat trap success
Pre-feeding is a key element for success in trapping. Because of rats neophobia, pre-feeding with your lure allows them to become accustomed and recognize it as a safe food source. When using pre-feeding for rat trap success, use small amounts. Rats are more likely to enter a trap with food they are familiar with, so using small amounts of pre-feed around the trap will increase the chances of them coming in contact with the lure and tasting it, which will help them learn to trust the lure inside the trap.
Here is how you can use pre-feeding successfully:
- Place small amounts of pre-feed at the entrance of the trap to lure the rat.
- Repeat the same for five days to build the rat's preference to the lure. Rats have a habit of visiting traps to feed, so ensure you develop their food preference.
6. Not resetting your traps
Depending on the type of traps you are using, they may need a manual reset before working again, while others reset themselves automatically. Unlike manual rat traps, the A24 Automatic Rat & Mouse Trap is self-resetting, which helps you trap more rats since it resets after each time a rat is dispatched. If you don't manually reset the standard snap traps, the trap may not be ready when it is encountered by another rat.
When not checked and reset regularly the standard snap trap will not be effective. To avoid this challenge, always check your trap regularly to reset if it has trapped a rodent. Using self-resetting rat traps like the A24 will save you from regular checks and missing out on potential strikes.
7. Not knowing your mistakes - Use a camera
There is nothing worse than not knowing where you are failing. Using a game camera to track the rat's movements around your traps is a great way to analyze lure attraction and the general curiosity of the rodent. With cameras becoming more and more affordable; cloud based monitoring and other game cameras are a great option to help you monitor your trapping location. Every trapping site is different and using what you learn from your cameras is crucial.
8. Not learning from your mistakes - Being pragmatic
Learn from your mistakes, especially what you see on camera. Be pragmatic by using trapping techniques to eradicate rat infestations by trying different methods to see what will work and be the most effective. Trial and error is really one of the best ways to go about trapping rats. Many times, small changes can make a big difference in rat-trapping success. Some trappers make the common mistake of using the standard methods they are most familiar with and being too rigid. What worked in one location might not in another.
In conclusion, it is important to realize successful rat trapping often does not happen overnight. It is important to be patient and work at tweaking your trapping setup until you find the method that works best for you.