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Rat Traps

Summary: You may think you know how to set a rat trap, but there is an art to doing it properly. Rodents are very smart and learn quickly to avoid objects and areas that present possible danger.

So, you think you've been around the block once or twice and know everything there is about properly setting a rat snap trap? Well, there's a lot more to it than pulling back the snap bar and putting it on the ground. Read on and learn the right way.

Rats are very smart and they are not about to jump on a trap just because you've put a dab of peanut butter on it. Rats are very suspicious of anything new in their territory and they will carefully examine it and test it to see if it is friend or foe. To often people set their traps only to find that they have been


set off and nothing has been captured. They re-set the traps and discover they cannot get a rodent to come near it. Once the trap has failed to do its job the target rat has learned his lesson and will not come near anything that resembles the trap or the smell of the trap.

Pre-baiting a rat trap is of utmost importance, but you need to know what to put on the trap as bait. It's important to know what the rat has been eating because rats will test a food to see how it affects them. If it digests well they will return to gorge themselves on that single food source. If, for example, you found the rat had been eating chocolate cupcakes you should take small pieces of those cupcakes and place it on the trap trigger. Do not set the spring bar the first or second day. Allow the rat to become accustomed to eating from the unset trap. If the rat is eating the cupcake from the trap consistently you can set the trap spring bar to go off on day three.

The placement of the trap is also very important. Rats have poor eye sight and use walls to guide them along. Set the trap perpendicular to the wall with the trigger nearest the wall. Setting the trap perpendicular will allow the rat to come in contact with the trigger from either direction. If the trap is set parallel to the wall the rat can only come in contact with the trigger from one direction. The edge of the trap must touch the wall, otherwise the rat may squeeze by the trap without coming in contact with the trap trigger.

After you've caught a rat there are two schools of thought as to whether you should clean the trap or not. Some people believe the trap has been “seasoned” once a rat has been caught. Others believe the scent of a trapped rat will discourage other rats from approaching. I say whatever works best for you is the rule to follow.

And you thought you knew all there was about setting rat traps.


03 Jun 2012, 15:23
hi there Thanks ahead of time
i can't figure out how to even set the spring victor trap!! i took out the staple and now what ...their site and directions have no pictures and i just don't get it thank you for your help...seems one is not enough and the jaw one i tried is worthless cause i didn't read what you said here about acclimating them...i have spent hundreds of dollars cementing, bob cat urine, peppermint oil, cayenne time time time steel wool, traps, balsam nothing i tried to use hav a hart but no luck this year...they are under the deck and i can smell them in the sill area of the basement! eek...there is no "wall" to put it up against just the opening to under the deck and the leaves and vines there....dang it is so creeepy and sad and frustrating and now i have this trap that i can't set. i bought a tomcat too with poison..desperate and sad laura b
Ask the Exterminator
08 Jun 2012, 07:03
The staple simply holds the hold-down bar in place during shipping. Remove the staple, put a tiny piece of bait on the trigger catch (the little brass colored piece), carefully pull the hammer (killing bar) all the way so the spring tension is loaded. Put the end of the hold-down bar in the notch of the trigger catch and gently put the trap down perpendicular and touching the wall. Pre-baiting, as described in the article above is required before you set the trap. All that other stuff you've been doing just complicates the process and confuses the rodent.
Shirley Holton
01 Nov 2012, 10:40
I used 3 victor rat traps last night and the peanut butter was gone this morning and the trap didn't go off. Did I use too much peanut butter?
Ask the Exterminator
04 Nov 2012, 01:35
Probably. It only requires the smell of the bait to get the rat's attention.
11 Feb 2013, 14:53
The key to the Victor trap is that the bar is held in place by the "snapper" part. Youtube how to set a rat trap - they will probably be using the Victor ones.

I've found leaving a HUNK of food surrounded by Victor traps with little bait in them TEARS UP the rats.
24 Mar 2014, 12:49
Hello Rick,

Many thanks for your very helpful site! Unfortunately I only read it AFTER setting out the first traps.
I have a Norway rat in the garden, my husband caught him on our security camera. I've not found droppings yet so our garden might just be part of his nightly prowl path. We set out Victor traps (2) baited with peanut butter and set the trap. As per your advice we should have set out trap, baited but unstrung until rat thinks trap is a good feeding source and only then set it. So our wily rat has been able to detonate the trap and take off with the bait without injury.
My dilemma is how do I proceed from here? I think he might be shy of the Victor traps. I do not want to use poison (he might have his burrow close to the home and stink us up) glue traps are awful and my hardware store tells me zapper traps cannot be used outside. We do not have children or pets in the garden.
I would very much appreciate your advice, many thanks in advance, regards, Esther
20 Mar 2015, 12:38
Thank you for your helpful tips! I live on a golf course and I get rats coming up on my patio at night and early morning. I used your advice and have been successful! I would like to let people know to be sure to use the right size traps as they come in different sizes. The small ones are good for the baby rats...gets them every time! I have had to use the larger traps for the adult rats as the small traps have no affect on them.
12 Apr 2015, 12:15
Thanks for your suggestions.

I have a problem with a rat in my house for the last two months. Would love your thoughts on this. We had put the normal snap traps and caught a few rats (one in garage and one in sub floor) but this rat in the house avoids these traps. I have tried putting a number of traps and even put a video camera. The video camera shows the rat avoiding the trap (going around it). We had an exterminator come in and seal the outside of the house and also places inside the house (so that the rat can't go out and come back in). I have even tried rat cage (one with that shuts once the rat walks on a lever) but this rat avoids that too. We have kids at home so this getting a little frustrating. So any tips would be appreciated.

BTW I am now planning to use a Rat Zapper. Hope that works!
Ask the Exterminator
13 Apr 2015, 08:47
You need to pre-bait the trap. Put some food on the un-set trap. If the rat removes the bait, repeat the process for another two nights. Rats will avoid new objects in their area until they can determine the objects are safe. Same for food. Once a rat starts eating the bait, stick with the same bait.

You need to find the point of entry and seal it shut to stop the flow of rats.
30 Jun 2015, 17:53
Hello there, the rat has escaped 2 times from the traps myself and the exterminator set up. First, we set up two rat glue boards and the rat escaped from it twice. Then I decided to get the victor snap trap and I set up three. The rat only eats the one in the bathroom but the trap does not go off. I thought the trap wasn't working till I decided to put bait on the trap and it snapped my thumb. Is there anything you would recommend? Thank you!
Ask the Exterminator
01 Jul 2015, 10:34
You need to pre-bait the snap trap. Here's a link to an article that explains how to do it.
27 Jul 2015, 00:00
Hi there. I had some "roof rats" in my attic. The exterminator stuck some traps in the attic access area which is over a bathroom and laundry room. Two days later we suddenly smelled something dank and foul in the laundry room. There are no leaking pipes or anything so I assume the traps have done their trick.
My question is, its going to be VERY hot this week (today is Sunday) and the guy is not scheduled to come back until Friday. The strength of the smell seems to dissipate when we can open the window the laundry room. We really can't take time off work to schedule the guy to come out sooner (plus not sure if he could anyway). Long question short, is it Ok to just try to soldier through the smell (especially if it is not in main portion of the house or a bedroom) or is there some dire circumstance that says we need someone out here right away?
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