Oh rats
August 8, 2020 8:07 PM   Subscribe

I have rats AND mice. Which size snap trap should I use? Or can I somehow arrange so each rodent will go for appropriate trap?

If I put out the little traps, maybe a rat will bite and just get tortured and not killed? If I put out the big ones, maybe it's TOO big to catch the mouse? Advice?

Bonus question - I don't want to trap any possums or raccoons by accident, both of which have occasionally (But not recently) seen in my neighborhood.
posted by latkes to Human Relations (6 answers total)
There are several different types of electrocution trap that will kill any creature below a certain size (small enough to enter the trap mechanism) but which will not threaten larger creatures (they're too big to enter the trap, so they cannot activate the trap). These are generally targeted at mice and rats, and so pose no hazard to larger animals like raccoons. One advantage of electrocution traps is they avoid the hideous "caught-but-gnawed-own-leg-off" problem; if the LED is lit, there's a dead thing in the trap, and it died quickly.

Side remark: please avoid poisons.
posted by aramaic at 9:04 PM on August 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

We've had great luck with a "Walk the Plank" style trap. We put it out for mice and caught a few rats as well.
posted by toxic at 10:24 PM on August 8, 2020

Been having a lot of rats this season. Snap traps work as well as anything, but I have to be very careful about placement, because of possums and neighborhood cats, and my own stupid dogs. Fuck those raccoons, the problems is that the traps wouldn't kill them!.

Anyhow, I've had some success using the snap straps placed under plastic milk crates, which allow rats and mice to enter, but not dogs or possums or cats or raccoons. Another successful placement strategy has been to place them in rectangular wooden "tubes" that I made from scrap wood, wide enough for several snap straps to be placed end on end.

I've had good success catching small rats with the regular large snap straps. Interestingly, they have turned out to be not instantly lethal. Several rats have managed to move several feet with the trap, from original placement before expiring. And one small rat seemed to have lived several hours before I found it still alive when getting home from work, where I had to put it out of its misery.

I do have an electronic zapper trap that only occasionally works. Rodents just seem very wary of it. It is a good set and forget type to use all the time, as it beeps when it's gone off.

Haven't had rodents escape snap straps with missing limbs, but some have escaped with missing fur.

The simplest and safest trap that has managed to catch a few in the last week or so has been a stupid plastic garbage bin, filled with about 10 inches of water, with a 1x2 wood ramp, baited with some peanut butter several inches inside the top of the bin, and a very thin smear along the 1x2 to entice them up the ramp. They try to reach the peanut butter inside the bin and fall in. The water is too deep for them to reach bottom and jump out, and they drown.

Aside from the garbage bin trap, all the traps have been baited with dog kibble, which seems to be the thing they really go for. Though they were subsisting on a unbelievable tomato plant that I couldn't have grown if I tried. Unfortunately, the rats got a taste for tomatoes and the plant had to go. They also go for our citrus trees when pickins get slim everywhere else. Fortunately, it's not very often. And of course, the dog kibble, for the dogs, has to be policed vigorously. Kibble is what brings all the rats to the yard.

Dead rodents are removed and disposed of as soon as possible, though it's not clear that the rats get all that spooked by a trap that's taken one of their peers. The wooden tube setups have caught two or three in a night, apparently the first victim doesn't faze the later victims.

In the past, I've used poisons with varying success. Placement is very tricky to avoid unintended poisonings. I've only used the warfarin type poisons in the crawlspace under my house. More recently, I've used RatX, which is much safer kind of poison (basically really salty rat food), but with ambiguous results. If the rats don't thin out soon, I might have to give the warfarin another go, along with the ongoing traps.

One of the best ways to deal with rats had been my now deceased Jack Russell, who was absolutely single minded when he got a whiff of a rodent. But he'd been a pensioner for several years with failing hearing and sight, and my old buddy had to be put to sleep in May. My two remaining dogs are completely useless with the rodents.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:25 PM on August 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you're trying to reduce rodent population inside:
-Put traps at the back of cabinets, and right up against the wall
-Check for holes and seal them. Mice have flexible skeletons and can get through holes that are dime sized or larger.
-Install door sweeps under door gaps that are more than 1/4"

If you're trying to reduce population outside:
-Make sure your garbage receptacles have locking lids
-Enclose compost piles and avoid putting bread products in compost

But most importantly:
-Take advantage of any working feral cat programs that exist in your area! They tend to be really good mousers.

If your profile is accurate and you're still in Oakland consider the following programs:
-Oakland Cats on Patrol
-Garden Cats
-Tenth Life Foundation
posted by donut_princess at 9:21 AM on August 9, 2020

2N2222, can you please post a picture of your water bin set-up?
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:24 AM on August 9, 2020 [1 favorite]


I think this link will work. It's a plastic rubbermaid garbage bin. The stick ramp is on the other side and runs from the ground to the handle. Inside, you can see some peanut butter smeared. The ramp is also smeared, thin enough for them to smell but not actually eat. One thing I also did was wipe the inside of the bin with vegetable oil to ensure the rodents couldn't get a grip on the wall and climb out. Not sure if it's necessary.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:49 AM on August 9, 2020

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