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Why are rats hard to trap

Last Updated: 27.09.20


Rats are sly creatures that are difficult to eliminate even when you have the best rat poison available. These rodents are careful about the routes that they use to move around, they reproduce insanely fast and they are too big for most traditional rodent traps that one can purchase online.


The statistics

Studies have shown that 29% of Americans have had to deal with a rodent problem in their homes. Even more so, 21 million rodents invade U.S. households annually. Rodents such as rats and mice spread Salmonella and, most of them have parasites that carry diseases. 

Because of their powerful incisors, these animals can chew through electrical wires and wood and they can cause fires. Most of the infestations occur during the fall and winter, when the rodents are in search of a warm place to call their home during the colder months. 

Those who find themselves with unwanted rats in their homes are the most unfortunate, as rats are, typically, the most difficult pests to deal with. One of the reasons why this happens is because of how difficult they are to capture and eliminate. But why?



Their size matters

Most common traps that you can find for sale are designed to be used to capture mice. Because, at first, homeowners find it difficult whether they are dealing with a rat or a mouse invasion, most of them invest in basic traps that are made to capture mice. 

As expected, these devices are not that useful when it comes to capturing rats. The same is true when it comes to glue traps.

An adult rat measures between 7 and 10 inches in length and it is, by comparison, twice the size of a mouse. Therefore, the devices constructed to catch small rodents are simply not fit for the job when it comes to capturing them.


Their species matters

As expected, not all rats are the same. By this, we are referring to the fact that different rats belong to different species. As a result, they have distinct dietary preferences. For instance, black rats, or roof rats like to eat plant-based foods and they typically do not show interest to foods such as cheese.

As a homeowner that is not well educated in what species likes what, you might find out this bit of info later on. As time passes by, and the vermin situation is not taken care of, the problem only gets worse.

A female rat can birth around six litters of baby rats per year. Each litter consists of around five to 12 new rats. After 5 to 4 weeks, the baby rats are all grown up and they are also ready to mate. So, if you do not know what type of bait to use in your traps, you risk ending up with a home filled with these pests.


They are very sneaky

Differently from mice, a type of rodents that are curious and somewhat naïve and easy to catch, rats are very clever.  Creatures of habit, they only go to look for food on trails that they know and consider safe. The main trait that helps them survive is the fact that they are suspicious of anything new that they see on their route.

So, if a trap appears in their environment, they will most likely avoid it at all costs. It takes a couple of days until the rats go near the trap. Because trapping rats is a rather arduous process, most residents find it frustrating to see the bait untouched day after day. 

Plus, they are careful about revealing their favorite pathways. Instead of crossing through the center of the room, most of them scur by along walls and corners that are difficult to reach. So, installing the traps in the right place can be quite complicated if you are a novice.



As we have pointed out earlier, rats are known for their ability to reproduce fast. If you manage to catch two or three rats in your garage, this does not mean that you have taken care of the problem. Rats live in packs and they reproduce every 21 days. 

Therefore, the rats that you managed to catch are probably only some of your unwanted guests. To take care of the issue, the specialists argue that you should place dozens of traps at once and that you monitor them closely. 

This entire process can prove time-consuming and not always satisfactory. However, to get rid of the infestation, it is important that you keep verifying and resetting the traps time and time again.



Smart techniques you should use

To trap a smart rat, you have to prove smarter than it. Consequently, you have to step up your game. So, start by eliminating the food sources that the rat colony has access to. Once the food supply is scarce, these pests will have no alternative than to eat the baits that you have set.

Also, to entice them, the specialists argue that the best thing that you can do is to place a piece of delicious food such as fresh fish or meat. This way, the animal will most likely interact with the trap faster.

Because rats are creatures of habit, you have to exploit this trait. At first, you should not set the traps. Instead, just place bait on top of them or near them. As the pest will pass near the traps, it will eventually give in and try the food. Also, they will most likely not associate the traps with a feeling of danger.

Once the rat has started to associate the traps with the idea of food, it is time to set the traps. For best results, be sure to also smear the bait onto the door area of the trap. 

If you are dealing with elusive rats that are weary of all baits that contain chemicals, you can try using natural bait. For example, roof rats like snail shells. A good place to start is by trying these shells to the triggers of the traps.

On top of that, if you have already identified the nest of the pests, you can try to lure them by identifying their weaknesses. For instance, if the rats have access to food, but no access to water, you can install liquid baits. 

Also, if the colony needs nesting materials, you can use strips of clothes in a similar way to food baits. 


Extra tips for novices

If you own pets such as dogs or cats, you must wash your hands thoroughly before you place the traps. If the rats smell the presence of a cat, for instance, they will not come near it any time soon.

If you plan on setting traps in an area that is widely used by rats, it is recommended that you use between two to three dozen traps. The traps should be set 15-20 feet apart. Because these pests like to walk along walls to avoid getting detected, you should place them in a way so that they are touching the walls. 

When discarding of the bodies of the dead pests, you must wear protective gloves. Rats are known carriers of bacteria, diseases, and even ectoparasites. 

Even though glue traps might work on mice, you should not use them on rats as they are very cruel and, in this case, not that efficient.


When to call the exterminator?

If you are a novice when it comes to rat invasions, you should hire professional help. Because these pests reproduce at a fast rate, the chances of you getting rid of all the vermin by yourself are rather slim. Plus, using potent rodenticides can be dangerous for you, and your pets.

The biggest advantage of using a rat professional is that he/ she will be able to locate the areas that these pests use to get inside your home. This way, you’ll know what cracks to seal so that you won’t have to deal with such an invasion any time soon.

Even more so, exterminators have access to more poisons and they know the correct way in which to use them. Besides, they will also remove the dead rats from your property after they successfully exterminate them. Who wants to do that without help!




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