Best Baits for Pack Rat Traps and Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Pack Rats

Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: August 27, 2023
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Pack rats, also known as wood rats or Neotoma albigula, are wild animals. These tiny, natural hoarders, navigate the wild, trash cans, and people’s homes to find food and nesting resources. They’re also a critical part of the ecosystem and provide food for bobcats, eagles, hawks, and coyotes. While these rats are naturally intelligent and sociable creatures, rat infestations quickly vex homeowners. Pack rats are incessant chewers, attacking everything books, cartons, cables, irrigation tubing, air conditioning tubing, attics, and garages.

Finding the best baits for pack rat traps is an effective way to control pack rat infestations. However, improper use of poisonous rat bait increases pack rat populations and kills non-target animals. If you have a gnawing rat infestation, read on to discover how to identify pack rats, how to bait pack rat traps correctly, what is the best food to bait pack rat traps with, and how to safely prevent pack rat infestations in your home.

Pack Rats Vs. Commensal Rats

Best Baits for Pack Rat Traps and Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Pack Rats
Identifying rodent behavior helps you find the best control and treatment methods for unwanted rats. Pack rats are often confused for commensal rats, which causes incorrect use of rat bait. The main difference is their natural habitat. Pack rats live in the wild, while commensal rats live in human homes.

Here are a few facts about pack rats.

  • There are over 20 species of pack rats in the wilderness.
  • They live in wild nests made of sticks, grass, and debris
  • They grow to around 12-15 inches and 3-5 inches in diameter
  • They are red-brown in color with white fur on the underside.
  • They have white feet
  • They have big ears and bushy tail, unlike commensal rats

Although many types of rats are “commensal” or ““living with or in close association to humans”, here are the most common types of commensal rats.

  • Norway rats or Rattus norvegicus burrow extensively in soil nest in basements and lower portions of buildings
  • House mice or Mus musculus nest on or below ground level, but can also move to attics
  • Roof rats or Rattus rattus nest in roofs and attic

However, most rats are consistent with the downsides. Pack rats chew through almost anything and reproduce quickly. One female can give birth to babies monthly. A newborn female is also ready for reproduction within two or three months. What’s more, feeding rats release loads of smelly urine and fecal pellets inside and around your home.

What Are the Best Baits for Pack Rat Traps?

Best Baits for Pack Rat Traps and Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Pack Rats

  1. Nuts
  2. Meats
  3. Bacon
  4. Oatmeal
  5. Raisins and other dried fruit
  6. Peanut butter
  7. Bird Seed
  8. Food scraps
  9. Nesting materials like yarn and dental floss

Note: Cheese is NOT an effective bait for rat traps. It’s a common stereotype that rats love cheese; however, in the real world, some rat species don’t consume cheese. What’s more, cheese may have an unappealing smell with deters rats.

What You Should Know About Rodenticides

Rodenticides are pesticides that kill rodents. These poisons are usually recommended for killing commensal rodents that appear indoors and within human premises. While the primary target for the rodenticide is the rat, any person or animal that unintentionally consumes a rodenticide can be killed. That includes other wild animals, pets, and children.

Rodenticides broadly fall into two categories- anticoagulants and non-anticoagulants. Coagulants are blood thinners and cause death in around four to two weeks after a rat begins to feed on the bait. Note, rats can hoard poison and consume it later.

First-generation anticoagulants are approved for controlling rat infestations and baiting rat traps. These contain chlorophacinone, diphacinone bromethalin, cholecalciferol, warfarin, or zinc phosphide. The Tomcat Bait Chunx with bromethalin and JT Eaton Bait Block Rodenticide with diphacinone are suitable rat trap baits for commensal rats.

Both rodenticides are food-flavored to attract rats. Mice cannot carry the huge chunks away, but they’re likely to start moving the chinks after gnawing at them. Unfortunately, if the rats leave the exposed bait on the floors, a pet or child may pick it up. So, consider your child and pet’s safety.

You should also avoid second-generation products to control rodents. These are rodenticides containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, or difethialone. Although these rodenticides work faster, the poisoning compounds tend to last longer in the animal tissue, which poses a threat for animals that feed on the bait.

Non-target animals such as cats, dogs, owls, and hawks may die after eating rats treated with second-gen anticoagulants. To prevent poisoning pets and wild animals, dispose the carcasses of poisoned rodents properly.

Why Not to Use Poison Bait Stations for Pack Rats

As illogical as it sounds, setting up poison bait stations for pack rats around your home exacerbates the problem. Pack rats are attracted to poison bait food, and as such, their population around and inside your home is likely to increase. They also create nests inside bait stations, because it’s safe from predators. The worst part is that poison kills natural rat predators, which eliminates natural forms of rat control.

How to Bait a Pack Rat Trap

After identifying where the pack rats are most active, we recommend using glue traps or snap traps. These traps kill individual rats without exposing wildlife, pets, and children to poisoning. However, rats are cautious of new objects, but they’re naturally curious.

  • Place snap rat traps along the areas where rats move or reside to help them familiarize themselves with the object, a few days before introducing the bait.
  • Wear gloves when handling traps to avoid transferring your scent on the traps, thereby alerting the rats.

You can even make a pack rat trap by yourself, following the guide below.

Other Ways to Get Rid of Pack Rats

The best way to control pack rat infestations is to remove ideal conditions for nesting and feeding.

  • Seal any holes through walls, pipes, attics, and ceiling with steel wool and patching materials from the inside and outside.
  • Remove all potential nesting locations for rats around your home such as leaf piles, excessive mulch, compost piles, unused vehicles, cardboard boxes, and piles of unwanted items.
  • Trim dense trees and vegetation, and climbers leading up to the roof and attic.
  • Remove all food remains after cooking and put them in tight fitting bins and garbage containers. Clean all counters and place all leftovers in your refrigerator.
  • Dry all surfaces and leaks in taps and pipes because they provide a water source for rats.
  • Remove other sources of food such as bird feeders until you can control the rodents.
  • Install door sweeps and weather-stripping around all doors and windows.

Final Thoughts

Pack rats are not commensal rats. They live in the wild and only invade human homes to look for food and nesting materials. Rodenticides and poisonous rat trap baits increase pack rat infestations and kill non-target animals. Here, we discussed the best pack rat baits, which are fruits, nuts, seeds, and human food. Snap traps and glue traps are a safe and effective way to control pack rats. Also, you should remember that removing food and shelter for pack rats reduces infestations.

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