Knowledge Base

What are the best trapping methods for Rats and Mice?

There are two types of traps: multi-catch and glue board. The use of rodent traps and/or baits depends on the situation. The best methods are selected after careful inspection, pest identification and assessment of the situation. While baiting is often the best way to quickly control sizable rodent infestations, in many situations trapping has advantages over baiting. Trapping does not use pesticides. Trapped rodents can be discarded so no odor problems result. And trap catches may be a more accurate means of assessing the size and characteristics of a rodent population.

Traps are most useful against mice, because mice tend to be curious and rats suspicious. For mouse control in public buildings, snap traps and multiple-catch traps can be used. One multiple-catch trap can trap a dozen or more mice -- without the use of bait or pesticide. Unlike snap traps, multiple-catch traps are not useful against rats.

The use of glue traps (glue boards) should be limited. This type of trap consists of a sticky film of glue applied to a backing of cardboard, wood or plastic. These traps can fail when they get dirty, too hot or too cold. To help keep them free of dirt and moisture, glue trap covers can be used, or the traps can be placed in boxes with openings, in empty bait stations, etc. Nevertheless, savvy rodents will avoid them, vault over them or place debris on them to cover the sticky surface.

Despite the many problems associated with their use, glue traps do catch rodents and can play a part in an integrated rodent management program. They can be purchased in both mouse and rat sizes.

Still, the best all-around trap for both mice and rats is the trusty snap trap. Modern snap traps have expanded plastic triggers proven to catch more rodents than older traps with smaller, metal triggers. Correct use of snap traps begins with proper placement. Along walls (rodents tend to run along walls), snap traps should be placed perpendicular to the wall, with the trigger end against the wall. They can also be placed in tandem (back-to-back), parallel to the wall so that rodents traveling in either direction will encounter the triggers. Although un-baited snap traps catch rodents, they work best when baited with food attractive to rodents. Bait with crunchy peanut butter, nuts, meats (e.g., bacon, hot dogs, sardines), fruit or sweets. For mice, cotton balls and dental floss are also attractive as nesting materials. Dental floss is also advantageous for tying baits onto snap trap triggers to keep rodents from stealing the bait. For rats, use rat-size snap traps.

Other strategies include “pre-baiting” snap traps without setting them. Pre-baiting allows rats to get used to their presence and begin feeding on the bait. Once routine feeding occurs, the triggers can be set. The object is to maximize the number of rodents caught and minimize the number of escapes that can make rodents increasingly wary. Traps can also be covered with thin layers of meal, grain or sawdust to help prevent rodents from detecting them.

While snap traps are useful in many situations, large numbers of them must be used to control larger rodent infestations. Snap traps should be placed at 10-foot intervals for mice and at 20-feet for rats. Half a dozen snap traps will capture a couple of mice in someone’s kitchen, but two dozen may be required for a typical restaurant storage room, and many more in a warehouse. Thus the use of snap traps is generally too labor-intensive and time-consuming to be practical against large infestations.

Updated 3/26/2013 11:11 AM
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