Why Is the Rat Not Eating the Bait?: A Homeowner’s Guide to Rat Control

Why Is the Rat Not Eating the Bait

If you’ve ever stumbled upon a mouse wandering around your kitchen floor or a rat hiding among the containers in your attic, you’re not the only one. According to a National Pest Management Association poll, about one-third of all Americans have dealt with a rat infestation at some point in their lives.

When it comes to catching a rat, you must count on your bait. But not all types of rats are attracted to the same kind of bait. Some rats enjoy peanut butter, while others are not so fond of the taste. What matters is the sort of rat you want to trap and its preferences. There are many distinct types of rats, each with its own set of preferences for eating.

The first step in eradicating your rodent pests is determining which species reside on your property.


Types Of House-Invading Rats

Norway rats and black rats are the two most prevalent rats that infiltrate human dwellings. Both are rodents responsible for a wide range of troubles. Despite your best efforts, you may not be capable of keeping them away from your home; however, there are certain measures you can take to make your place a little less appealing to these unwelcome pests in general.


The Norway Rat

The Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) is the most common type of rat. This species originated in China, but it can now be found almost anywhere on the planet, except Antarctica, which is far too cold for them.

Norway rats are typically brownish or gray, or a combination of the two shades. They can grow to be as big as 16 inches. These rats will consume almost anything, which explains why they are frequently found in lower areas such as basements, crawlspaces, sewers, and other underground zones.

It will take a sturdy trap to catch this rat, but its food preferences aren’t as specific as those of other rodent species. They will be keen to eat and are likely to consume different things.

Even though these rats dislike cold weather, they are tough and can withstand even the most extreme conditions. Thanks to their high intelligence, they can grab your bait without triggering the trap, which means they can often outwit spring devices.


The Black Rat

Compared to the Norway rat, the black rat (Rattus rattus) is slightly smaller. They can reach a size of approximately 12 inches. These rodents prefer warmer, more tropical conditions; therefore, they rarely travel more than 300 miles inland from their native surroundings. They are believed to have originated in Asia but have now found their way to the United States. They have a blunted nose and a coat of black or brownish fur.

Black rats do not tolerate cold weather well. Thus they will seek refuge in the chimney, attic, or roof if they are capable. They have been dubbed “ship rats” because they enjoy burrowing into shipping containers and as they were commonly discovered on boats.

Although these creatures are just as smart as other species, they have a particular preference for certain foods. When setting a trap, you can’t just toss anything on it and hope to catch anything.

Since they are highly particular about their diet, catching this rat necessitates some effort. They love to hang out in the palm trees in their native regions. They gorge themselves on the leaves and any decomposing plants in the vicinity of those sites. Because they are vegetarians, it is impossible to bait the trap with bacon and expect them to nibble.


Reasons Why Rats Aren’t Eating the Baits

Having the revelation that you may have rats somewhere in your home is a stressful experience. It’s downright infuriating to spend important time and money setting traps just to discover that the rats aren’t interested in your baits at all. Let’s see why that might happen.

  • It has been documented in several studies that rats are aware of when certain foods cause harm to another rat in the colony and that they deliberately avoid these baits in the future. They also detect when an object such as a trap is introduced into their habitat for the first time, and they avoid it.
  • One of the most common errors that people make is to place food on the trap tray and not anywhere else. Remember to put some under it and on the back of it and the sides. You need them to step upon or into the apparatus to get more food.

The snap trap is the most commonly seen type. Setting and resetting them constantly, on the other hand, can be a hassle. Rats have figured out how to grab the bait without setting off a snap trap on many occasions.

  • Other factors that could be contributing to rats avoiding your traps include the type of bait you’re using, the type of traps you’re using, and the number of traps you’re attempting to place. In the first place, rats, like people, have food preferences, which means that the bait you’re using might not be appealing to them.

A similar scenario is that the rats may be collecting their food from a different source, which means they aren’t hungry and will not be drawn to the lure on your trap—no matter how appetizing it is.

  • The rodent world is a fiercely competitive environment when it comes to food. If you want them to consume the food you set out in a trap, it must be identical to what they eat. Otherwise, they won’t even touch it. Furthermore, they may already be stuffed when they arrive at your house and choose to nest rather than eat when they do.


Rat Bait Tips and Tricks

The following are some suggestions for the types of baits that should be used on rat traps and how they should be used.

  • To increase your chances of rat trap effectiveness, offer the Norway rat the following foods as baits:
    • Nuts
    • Peanut butter
    • Hot dogs
    • Dried fruits
    • Sausages
    • Unflavored dental floss
    • Chocolates, gumdrops, or similar candies
  • If you want to catch a black rat, use any of the following baits:
    • Nuts
    • Peanut butter
    • Slugs
    • Dried fruits
    • Snails and snail shells
    • Berries
    • Unflavored dental floss
  • Because rats are so small, you must know how they eat before purchasing the correct size and shape of bait for them. You don’t want to use a bait too big because they grip things in their paws.
  • There are several new baits that rats will only try a small amount of to make sure they won’t become sick.  Because of their apprehension of new foods, it’s ideal for spreading out various items so that rats can develop a taste for each one. The first time they taste it, they won’t be afraid to eat it from a trap. They may avoid the bait entirely if you set the traps too soon.
  • Rats are drawn to damp and moldy areas because they enjoy the aroma. A pungent cheese like Limburger will make your trap more appealing to the critters. Keep in mind that they enjoy eating wood and cardboard, so keep that in mind when placing baits for them.
  • You can also use rat breath odor, a substance that smells like rat breath. It’s a signal to them that this is a welcoming environment. When a rat enters a new area, it will sniff about to see if other rodents have been there before. To get them to fall into the traps, you can only use a minimal bit of bait. It can backfire if you go overboard. Use these lures if you wish to keep rats away from an area.



Even if you take all of these precautions, rats can find a way into your property, even in the cleanest of homes. Contact a wildlife management specialist if you have a rat problem.

Homeowners who attempt to tackle rodent problems on their own typically find themselves dealing with the same pest concerns repeatedly. They may also endanger their own and their family’s health. A professional can help you save time, money, and frustration by properly disposing of rats.

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