Rats are never a welcomed sight in a home, and some cities have more rats than others. New York City has the worst rat infestation in the world, so even if you live in a swanky high-rise, you may want to learn how to catch a rat.
Chances are, you’re closer to a rat than you think. New York’s rat sightings have risen 38% in the last year, with 17,353 sightings last year alone.
While city officials have a difficult time getting rid of rats, there are home remedies that have proven to work well.
How to Catch a Rat
If you want to catch a rat, you need to know proper techniques for trapping. Rat poison can be used to kill the rat, or you can use some other form of bait. Since we’re discussing trapping, the best bait seems to be:
- Peanut butter
- Dog food
Rats are not picky, and a lot of experts recommend using the food that your rats are already eating as bait. Perhaps the rats have been munching away on your dog’s food. Well, use this food as bait – the rats like it already.
Once you’ve picked out your bait, you’ll need to start choosing the right traps for the job.
Types of Rat Traps
Rats are much larger than mice, with some rats spanning 6 to 11 inches – they’re quite big. Larger and stronger than their mouse counterparts, rats are also known to carry diseases.
There are a lot of different rat traps available:
Snap traps are very common, and they work just like a mouse trap works. A rat steps on the trap, a metal bar or clamp snaps on the rat’s neck or back, and the rat dies. These traps are powerful, and they can hurt animals, too.
Inexpensive, these traps are designed to kill.
If you snap the trap on your finger, it may break in the process.
Glue traps are less humane, and they have strong glues that aim to get the rat stuck to the glue pad. When stuck, the rat will struggle to get away and may lose a limb in the process.
Glue traps will keep the rat in place, causing it to starve to death in the process.
Experts agree that this is the least humane method of rat removal. You will need to keep animals away from this trap.
Humane / Live Animal Traps
If you really want to catch a rat and not kill it, you’ll want to use humane traps. These traps can be made from a variety of materials, but metal traps are best. Rats can chew through plastic traps quickly.
These traps require a bait, and you’ll need to release the rat.
Powerful traps that electrocute the rat humanely. Electric traps will lure the rat inside, zap it and kill it. These traps run off of batteries and can be reused. While more expensive than snap traps, electric traps ensure a kill and can continue to be reused.
You’ll often find enclosure traps available that lure in the rat and then snap on top of them. These are your “new” snap traps, and they work well. If you have kids and would rather not have your children view the dead rat, these traps work very well.
Homemade traps do exist, but a lot of these traps fail. Rats weigh 10 times that of a mouse – in many cases – so it’s harder to keep these pests in your trap. One simple and easy way to make a trap is to:
- Place peanut butter and oatmeal in a wastebasket
- Create steps or a ramp for the rat to get into the basket
- Once inside, the rat will not be able to climb out
Books or bricks can be used to make the steps for the rat to climb. You’ll want to use books that you don’t mind being gnawed on because rats will gnaw on the books.
When you catch a rat, you’ll need to learn how to release the rat properly (we discuss this below).
How to Release a Trapped Rat
Humane rat trapping requires you to release the rat properly. This means that you’ll need to release the rat at most 100 yards from where it’s been trapped. But there’s obviously a good chance that the rat will come back to the home.
The issue with releasing further is that the further you release the rat, the higher the risk that the rat will die.
Rats will not know where to find food or water, so they will scramble and often die when released far away. What a lot of homeowners don’t realize is that rats will go into what’s called stress-induced disorders.
When trapped, the rat will start to become stressed and will often fall into dehydration within a few hours.
You need to check your traps often to ensure that your humane trapping doesn’t end up killing the rat in the process.
Always make sure to use gloves of some sort to lower your risk of being bitten by the rat. You should also wear gloves when cleaning up any urine or droppings from rats. Disease can be transmitted through both urine and droppings.
Rats can carry parasites and diseases. You need to use a disinfectant to ensure that there are no health hazards remaining in your home.
How to Set a Rat Trap Properly
Each type of trap requires you to properly set the trap. But setting an electric trap is different than setting a snap trap. You’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine how best to set the trap that you purchased.
But we do have a few tips that can help you better catch rats:
- Rats stay out of human sight whenever possible, so place traps behind couches and furniture where it may run to hide.
- Dark corners, such as those in your closet, are great places to put traps.
- Search and find where droppings are present. These are places rats have already been, so it makes sense to place traps in these areas.
- Place multiple traps in a room – the more, the better.
- Some experts recommend placing multiple traps together in an effort to catch a quick, agile rat that may get away from the initial trap.
- Use multiple trap types: electric, snap and even glue if you want to get rid of your rat infestation faster.
- Place traps 15 to 20 feet apart. Place the traps against the walls of the room. Rats often run along the wall of a room to try and go undetected.
- When placing snap traps, you’ll want to carefully place the trap against the walls. The trigger end should almost be touching the wall. Since rats like to run along the walls, there’s a better chance that the rat will trip the trap.
- Larger spaces, such as a warehouse, may have as many as 12-24 traps set in one area. It’s important that in a commercial setting, rats do not come in contact with food or any workers.
- Set traps often. Once a rat is caught, clean the trap and replace it. Rats are resilient, and they will continue coming until you’ve killed or trapped them all. Check on traps daily and replace bait as needed. Continue replacing the traps until you stop catching rats.
If you’re dealing with roof rats, you’ll need to use traps differently. You may need to place these traps outside, near your fence or vegetation. Some owners will place these traps near trees or tree limbs to catch the rat.
You want to make sure that you check the trap often because there’s a chance that you’ll catch another animal or rodent.
Keep in mind that pests can be both smart and picky. You may find that rotting meat works well for roof rats. But perhaps your rats don’t like meat. In this case, you can try another bait. You may even need to change bait types once in a while based on the habits of the rats you’re dealing with.
Norway rats, the most common rats that you’ll come across, are known for preferring protein. These rats will flock to meat scraps, and they also like dog food because it’s a high protein meal.
Now that you know how to catch a rat, you need to take additional measures to stop your infestation. You’ll want to start by removing all food and water sources from the home. Rats will not stay for long if there’s nothing to eat or drink.
Once the food source is gone, you’ll want to seal up any holes or entryways where the rats have been entering.
You can also start to place rat repellents and poison baits around the home. Baits must be very potent to kill a rat, so you’ll want to make sure that the bait is kept away from children and pets.
Poisons are very harsh, and it’s often best only to use poisons as a last resort. Animals, children and adults can become sick or even die if they come in contact with the poison.