The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Caught the rat!

Caught rat

Lucy with ratWe've been on the trail of the rat living under our chicken coop for a couple of weeks now.  While you'd think rats are a cosmetic problem, they're actually very dangerous as we get close to chick season since rats can demolish a flock of fuzzy babies in short order.

I started trying to catch the rat while Mark was away visiting his parents in Ohio in January.  I stopped after a couple of failed attempts, though, because I was afraid of hurting Lucy...and was also afraid of snapping my fingers in the trap.  Mark has a certain calm focus that's very handy when using chainsaws and setting rat traps, so I let him take care of round 3.

The good news?  Within two hours, the rat was dead.  The bad news?  An hour later, Mark saw another rat.  This one wasn't interested in following its coop-mate's path to the happy hunting grounds in the sky, so we're back to the drawing board.  How to catch a now-trap-shy rat?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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We use the black plastic snap style traps. They seem to do an excellent job at a humane kill. The key is to leave the trap set in the same place for an extended period of time. Rats are scared of anything new in the environment, so you have to let them get used to it. FYI we caught 4 rats in a row that decided to take up residence in our utility room, just by resetting the trap and not touching it. Peanut butter was our lure.
Comment by Jessie Wed Feb 12 09:17:13 2014
Mark, wash the trap with a small amount of bleach water. The rats can smell the blood. I found that peanut butter was the best bait. Roseanell
Comment by roseanell Wed Feb 12 09:27:21 2014
I have had good luck with catching several mice using a 5 gallon bucket with several inches of water in it, an empty toilet paper tube with peanut butter smeared on it and a ramp up to the bucket. I found this on you tube and it worked very well. The problem is the water freezing when using it outside.
Comment by Elayne day Wed Feb 12 09:54:02 2014
My husband swears by putting several pieces of cheese around the trap landmine style and then burying the wood part of the trap a bit. Good luck!
Comment by Maggie Wed Feb 12 10:26:42 2014

We had a horrible problem with rats in the Louisiana. I got expert help and it worked. First, get the largest wooden snap traps you can, for the neck snapping. Next put them at least 3-6 traps along the edges of your barn walls (where the first rat was caught). Rats follow their pee trails along walls. Make sure you fasten the trap down, nail it down or use a string to keep it in place. Keep a map of where the traps are.Rats will eat their dead and carry the carcass and the trap away if not fastened.Check your traps at least once a day. Peanut butter is mana to rats. They love it. Smear it on the trap, then set the traps. As soon as the night falls, you should hear the snapping of the traps. If you are getting them in the daytime, you have a serious problem. We store our feed in metal trash cans and old chest freezers.You have to keep your feed away/sealed from your barn.I caught 20 rats in 3 days. We finally put our feed in trashcans and the non working chest freezer and no more rats.Cats and rats snakes are a big help.My guineas eat the baby mice and rats if they see them. There is a cage you can use where small rodents fall in and can't climb out, but they are alive. And you will have to deal with that.Or you can have water at the bottom : I hope this helps you on your quest for less rats. Good Luck.

Comment by Ruthlynn Wed Feb 12 13:27:56 2014

Just wanted to comment that peanut butter has been my best bait as some of the other folks have mentioned. We had over 10 attacking the pantry and we eventually got them all with peanut butter. They chose the traps over the pantry, they loved it so much.

I'm new to your blog and I love it! I just made a bee watering station and blogged about it with a link back to your article that gave me the idea. Thanks for all your tips!

Comment by Anonymous Wed Feb 12 15:46:05 2014
A Jack Russell Terrier. They won't stop until the rodent is dead, and they won't hurt the chickens.
Comment by Anonymous Thu Feb 13 07:08:33 2014
Don't wash the trap once you have caught a rat, simply remove the rat and reset if (use 3 sheets of paper towel between your hand and the trap when handling to avoid putting human scent on the trap). A professional told me that the smell of the previous rat makes the rat nearby think that the trap is ok as they scent their own. Caught one last night, now have the golden rat scented rat trap!!
Comment by Chris Thu Nov 17 13:01:07 2016

"A Jack Russell Terrier. They won't stop until the rodent is dead, and they won't hurt the chickens"

Yes, humans created terriers for just this reason. However, I'd recommend keeping a dog away from areas with rats or their urine until you vaccinate your dog for Leptospirosis, and don't skip the booster shot to be administered 3 weeks later. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread from animals to people. I live in NYC, where their have recently been several dogs infected with Leptospira bacteria; the health risks can be deadly. IIRC there were also 3 recent human deaths in the Bronx.

Comment by Elizabeth Sat Oct 14 17:05:55 2017

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