Trapping Rodents: A Beginner’s Guide

Trapping rodents is another form of pest control – i.e. trying to keep numbers down rather than stop the problem completely (pest eradication).

Unless you remove the environmental factors supporting the rodent population – i.e. food, shelter & warmth – then any rodents trapped will be simply replaced by new individuals and the problem continues indefinitely (you will never catch all of the rodents if that is what you are thinking).

Trapping has an advantage over baiting in that it captures the rodent allowing you to remove and dispose of the body.

This is a good thing as rodents killed through baiting have a habit of dying somewhere within a floor or wall cavity and then decomposing causing a very bag smell and/or a fly and maggot nuisance.

Traps come in various shapes and sizes and essentially either capture the rodent alive (live capture) or kill it (snap trap).

Sticky board traps (or glue boards) are in the middle – they capture the rodent alive but there is no practical way to remove it without causing harm so the only option is to kill it.

You need to be aware of this before you put down sticky board traps!

You will also find that rodents get very desperate on sticky board traps as essentially they are creatures of flight and so you are denying it a very basic instinct.

This desperation causes them to chew off their limbs – rats in particular will also casually feast on their stuck companions too so there is a lot of questions about the humanity of these sticky boards.

Even snap traps can cause suffering as a quick kill is only achieved if the bar strikes the back of the rodent – often it can miss and trap a limb causing a lot of suffering.

Snap traps – especially those intended for rats and squirrels – will also happily cause a lot of damage to errant feet and fingers so they must always be located in concealed areas or protected inside special boxes that only the target species can enter.

Biggest problem with all forms of trapping is more often than not the rodents won’t go near them. Rats exhibit a behaviour called neophobia and is essentially the fear of new objects – this means they won’t go near anything you introduce into their environment for around 2 weeks.

House mice are the opposite – they are naturally very inquisitive creatures but both rats and mice are very in tune with their environment and can quickly suss out something that is there to cause them harm.

This avoidance behaviour is called ‘behavioural resistance’ and it occurs with both traps and bait boxes – they simply avoid them or run around them.

This is not learnt behaviour – it’s just a genetic behavioural difference that’s been selected for.

For example, there are people out there that won’t step on pavement cracks – they don’t have a particular logic for doing this, they just say it doesn’t feel right to step on them.

This is a genetic behavioural trait (i.e. they were born that way). If we lived in a world where you died from stepping on pavement cracks then those odd people that made of habit of not would be ‘selected for’ and only they and their kids would survive.

Eventually the world would just be filled with these people and the human race will have evolved ‘behavioural resistance’ to stepping on pavement cracks!

So in short, traps can sometimes have a role to play in pest control – but they should not be considered as a sole approach to achieving pest eradication.

Here at Pestology, we always find that people generally underestimate their rodent foe…… just because you a put a trap down, it doesn’t mean it’ll come running straight over and stick its head in it!