Rats are some of the most common and damaging pests; they can contaminate your food and carry diseases that can be contracted by you and your family. They can also destroy insulation in your home causing you to pay higher energy bills. If you experience telltale signs of rats such as foul odors, rat droppings, or scurrying noises in your walls, you should call an exterminator or set out traps. While calling an exterminator is the most effective method to get rid of all rats, rat traps can also be effective. If you plan to use traps, it is important to identify the type of rats infesting your home so you can choose the right bait.
Discover What Type of Rats Are Infesting your Property
The two most common species of house rat that inhabit North American homes are the roof rat (also known as the black rat) and the Norway rat (sometimes called sewer or brown rats).
Norway rats have stocky, gray-brown bodies. They have tails that are shorter than the rest of their body, and they have small eyes and ears. Norway rats nest below ground. In houses, they tend to live in lower levels of buildings such as in basements and crawl spaces.
While roof rats have similar coloring to Norway rats, roof rats tend to have tails that are longer than the rest of their body. They tend to be slimmer than Norway rats and have larger eyes and ears. Also, roof rats are excellent climbers and tend to nest in attics. While Norway rats tend to live throughout the United States, roof rats tend to live in warm climates along the coast.
What Do Norway Rats and Roof Rats Like to Eat?
Since rats are omnivores and scavengers, they will eat most types of food that they encounter including fruits, grains, and human food. However, certain rats prefer different kinds of foods more than others.
Norway rats’ diets tend to consist of more meat than roof rats. If you have Norway rats in your house, you might want to consider putting bacon, beef jerky, or some other type of meat that will not spoil.
In contrast, roof rats tend to eat more seeds and other plant substances. Some good bait for catching roof rats include nuts, dried fruit, and berries.
A common misconception is that rats and mice like cheese. While rats will eat cheese if they do not have other options, they do not particularly like this food due to its pungent smell.
However, both Norway rats and roof rats enjoy peanut butter. If you do not know what type of rat is infesting your house, peanut butter is the best bait to use. Also, since peanut butter is sticky, it causes rats to have to stay in the trap area longer which makes it more likely for the rat to be caught.
If you plan on using different bait than peanut butter, make sure you tie the bait to the trap. Doing so will make the rat have to linger longer in the trap resulting in an easier capture.
Another effective suggestion for bait is to use the food you know that rats have eaten in your house. Rats will only eat food if they have eaten that food before or smell that food on other rats. If you have found rat droppings in certain food in your home such as dog food or cereal, use this food in the rat trap.
No matter what type of bait you choose to use in your trap, do not feel discouraged if no rats are caught during the first two weeks. Rats are neophobic or afraid of new objects that suddenly appear in their environment. To familiarize the rats with rat traps, bait the traps but do not set them for a week. Leaving the food on unset traps during this time will give the food time to spread through the rat community and make the rats believe that the traps are a safe source of food. After a week, bait and set the traps to begin exterminating rats.
Now that you know the differences in diet between Norway rats and roof rats, you can decide what types of food to use to bait your traps. If you are not sure what types of rats are infesting your property, peanut butter will effectively attract both species.