Rats are some of the most resilient urban pests: they can squeeze underneath spaces as small as a half-inch to a quarter-inch depending on the species. But like most pests and animals, they are creatures of habit. This can help you prevent their entry into your home and keep them outdoors.
So what is the best outdoor rat trap? Outdoor traps that can resist weathering and environmental factors like plastic or metal cage traps work best. They can be placed almost anywhere and require little maintenance to keep operational, and are effective at drawing attention away from your home’s entry points with the right bait.
While several types of rat traps can work outdoors, the best type of rodent trap is a plastic or metal cage trap. These rat traps are weatherproof, come in different sizes to adjust to different rat sizes, and are a more humane way of preventing rat problems.
Here are several reasons they’re so effective:
Most cage rat traps are fairly simple. A cage made of wire mesh or plastic is placed around potential rodent sites, with non-poisoned bait in the center. As rats come in to investigate the bait, the cage slams shut behind them, preventing them from escaping and capturing them alive. Some traps may have indicators that can let you know if they’ve been activated, while others may catch multiple rats at once.
The design of a cage rat trap is almost foolproof and difficult to escape from. Other rat traps (which we’ll discuss later) may not trigger, still leave the rat a means of escape, or be prematurely triggered if the rat is smart enough. Cage rat traps can be adjusted to the size of the rat, so you can catch everything from Norway rats to house mice.
Plastic and metal are some of the most durable materials for outdoor traps, especially if they’re constructed from materials like acrylic plastic or galvanized steel. While they can’t withstand extreme weather or climates, these materials are resistant enough to weathering to last for a decade or more.
Since rats often like entering homes through densely wooded or crowded areas, the durable construction of plastic or metal cage rat traps can ensure that they catch these pests before they fail. Other traps can be affected by passing animals, weather, or even human activity in the area, which can cause them to activate prematurely.
Depending on local regulations, using poison or electric rat traps in your area may be prohibited. This is to avoid accidental harm to any local wildlife or pets that may wander across the trapped area and take an interest in the bait. Cage rat traps are often tailor-made to catch only rats and exclude everything else, with most traps able to capture them alive.
Cage rat traps are conducive to the “catch-and-release” style of trapping, which can prove effective if there aren’t many rodents in the area. This also removes the problem of body retrieval and disposal, which can be dangerous since rats are carriers of pests and disease. Dead rat bodies may contaminate the area and draw in scavengers that may activate other traps.
In summary, rat cage traps are reliable, easy to operate, require little maintenance, and can withstand weather and other outdoor factors that may cause other kinds of traps to fail. However, while they are effective for many kinds of rodents, there are considerations that you have to keep in mind when using them.
While none of these considerations affect the efficacy of the trap, they can be potential deal breakers for people looking to use this kind of rat trap. These considerations may include:
As previously mentioned, plastic or metal cage rat traps will usually catch live rats. While this is a humane way of getting rid of/preventing a rat problem, disposing of a live rat may not be ideal if you don’t have a lot of experience in releasing rodents.
Inexperience in releasing a rodent can be dangerous since the rat is most likely either panicking or aggressive after being caught, and that may cause injuries to yourself and further damage to your surroundings.
Capturing them alive also means that you need to release the rat somewhere considerably far away from your property. This can be a problem if you live in a dense urban area since you must go outside of town limits so the rat won’t enter another home after its release. Most people may not have either the time, patience, means, or inclination to deal with a live – albeit captured – rat, so using metal or plastic rat cage traps may not be the best solution.
Plastic or metal rat cage traps have a variety of sizes and designs, usually tailored to catch specific sizes of rodents. Since rats may vary in size depending on species, age, and environment, rat cage traps may be ineffective if their size isn’t suitable for the rat you’re trying to catch. Bigger rats may not fit into small cages, while small mice can easily escape cages designed for bigger rats.
Here, identifying the species of the rat you’re trying to capture can help in deciding what size or type of cage rat trap you’ll get. Some types of traps (usually traps designed for mice) are reusable and can catch multiple mice before reaching capacity. Bigger rat traps are heavy-duty and can be placed in rougher environments, which are ideal for rat species that have burrowed into the ground or made their nests in trees or shrubbery.
Depending on the design of the cage trap, other similarly sized animals like squirrels, kittens, small birds, or even frogs may activate the trap. While it’s possible to reduce the likelihood of this happening by adjusting the type of bait that you put inside the cage trap, it can be a considerable obstacle for rat trapping in wildlife-rich areas.
Children may also trigger the rat trap if they aren’t supervised. If you live in a neighborhood with plenty of children and local fauna, you need to be careful with the exact design of the cage trap you’ll use to prevent accidental trapping and premature triggering.
If cage rat traps aren’t available, there are other types of rat traps you can use. Just remember that depending on their design, material, and method of capture, they can be less efficient than cage rat traps, and might not work at all when placed outdoors.
Electronic rat traps work by delivering a high-voltage shock to rats and mice, which kills them immediately. These rats are extremely effective when placed indoors, but may malfunction or not work outdoors, especially when exposed to the elements. Even if the electronics in the rat trap are weatherproofed, the ambient temperature will cause them to fail eventually.
They’re also extremely dangerous for any wildlife in the area, since these traps don’t discriminate between rats or other animals. If they kill rats, the bodies may act as bait for larger scavengers like foxes, crows, and feral cats.
Traps that are made of wood often malfunction outdoors, usually because the wooden construction isn’t weather-resistant. Most wooden rat traps are made with commercial-quality wood, which can quickly degrade and break after a few instances of rain. For this reason, wooden traps should only be deployed inside sufficiently sheltered outdoor areas, where they can’t be affected by rain.
Wooden traps are a great low-cost option for people that can’t afford plastic or metal cage rat traps, though the costs of putting so many wooden traps may eventually outstrip the costs of cage traps. Wooden traps are usually not reusable, and they are prone to breaking after capturing a few rats. Their mechanisms aren’t weather-resistant either, which can make the trap itself stop working even before the wooden material wears out.
Glue traps are some of the worst traps you can place outdoors since their sticky surfaces attract debris or trap other animals. Since their backings are mostly made of cardboard, they’re prone to warping and twisting after any water exposure, and they can be blown away in strong wind or rain. The glue itself can also wash away, or eventually be filled with so much micro-particles that the adhesive no longer works.
If you have to use glue traps, only use them in outdoor areas that have no exposure at all to elements, like an enclosed porch or patio. Other exterior areas of the house like the garage are suitable spots for glue traps. Alternatively, if your area experiences long periods of dry weather, glue traps can be an excellent trap for rodents going to and from potential water sources.
While rat traps are an effective method of rodent control, there are ways to maximize their efficacy aside from placing more of them around the area. Here are three ways you can get more use out of your rat traps:
When first placing down a rat trap, don’t expect to catch anything right away. Rats can be extremely wary of anything that you place in their usual areas, so it may take some time before you see results. Some rats may ignore rat traps for a few days before investigating, or change their usual routes if they feel threatened by the trap.
One way to avoid this problem is by putting bait inside the rat trap. While most traps already recommend you place bait inside them, it’s crucial to differentiate which type of bait can work with the rat you’re trying to catch and the design of the trap itself. You may have to experiment with different bait before you get something that works.
Outdoor rat traps should be placed at entry points inside the house like windows, vents, and exhaust pipes, or any other likely area where rats can burrow or chew through. If you’ve identified the habits of the rodents you’re trying to keep out, placing traps along well-traveled routes is an effective way to capture more of them.
If you’re dealing with a large colony, you may have to move your traps around a few times to make sure that the rats don’t get used to their locations. Rats are smart and may change their habits if they get used to trapped areas, so change your trap locations every two to three weeks.
Despite being members of the same family, rats may drastically differ in behavior and routine, which can affect the success of any rat trap you place. For example, brown rats are more cautious and will take some time to approach traps, while house mice are curious and are more likely to take the bait. Identifying which type of rat you’re trying to capture can give you better insight on how and where to use your traps.
Proper identification of a rodent can help you pinpoint areas where they’re more likely to come across your traps, use bait that can be more appealing to them, and decide on what type or size of rat trap you’ll be using. While some general-purpose rat traps can catch most types of rodents, traps that are tailor-made to specific species will work best.
Rat traps are effective solutions at capturing rats before they get inside your home, but they should not be the only measure you should take to prevent rodent infestations. Other methods can be equally effective in keeping rats away from your home, such as:
Two of the biggest factors that can draw rats to your home are dirt and access points. Rats are foragers by nature and will seek the easiest access to food, and will travel the straightest probable route to potential sources of food and water.
A dirty household provides them plenty of routes and material to hide or use to make their nests, which can make infestations more likely. Cleaning and disinfecting are some of the most effective deterrents to mice and rats since they’re less likely to travel to areas where they could be exposed, or have a higher chance of encountering humans up close.
Closing any exit or entry points into your property like windows, holes in the walls or ceiling, and exhaust vents are also crucial to keeping rodents away. Rats can squeeze into tight spaces and can climb or jump through obstacles with little effort, which makes them able to enter a house through the tiniest gaps or holes. They may even make their own entry points through old wood or drywall if sufficiently motivated.
The presence of other animals like cats, certain dogs, large lizards like snakes, and birds like owls can act as natural rodent repellents. Since these animals often hunt and feed on rodents, rats are less likely to go near an area that has a population of their predators. This is also the reason any outdoor rat traps should specifically catch rats and nothing else, since they may also capture or harm other animals that hunt them.
Because of their sharp sense of smell, rats are extremely sensitive to certain odors and will avoid very pungent areas. Plants like peppermint, citronella, lavender, or mint can be deterrents to rats, especially those that are looking to invade the house from the outside. Other compounds like vinegar may also be effective repellent since they sting rodents that travel through them, especially inside tight spaces like pipes.
Outdoor rat traps are some of the most effective tools you can use to keep rodents away. One factor that can make them even more effective is to tailor the trap to suit the environment. And while multiple outdoor rat traps can help keep rodents out of your home, a comprehensive rat prevention plan can guarantee that your property remains rat-free.
At Pinnacle Pest Management, we believe in long-term and cost-effective solutions for preventing rat infestations. With years of experience in the metropolitan area, we can help you secure your home against rat invasion. Visit our website today to find out our list of service areas.
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