This is a widely disputed issue, with some trappers swearing by good old peanut butter, while others buy rodent bait from specialist retailers.
Researchers at Victoria University of Wellington have put the different baits to the test, and found that stock-standard peanut butter might not always be the best bet. They found wild rats prefer cheese, milk chocolate, Nutella and walnuts to your standard peanut butter.
Whatever you do use, refresh it often (once a week is good). Rats can be fussy eaters. If the catches dry up, but there are still signs of rats about, try something different.
Put a bit of ‘free’ peanut butter in the tunnel (the wooden box that you put your traps inside) in front of the trap – this encourages the rats and mice in. It helps attract more rodents too, as they’ll return to their nest with the first haul of peanut butter, and then bring their family back to the trap for more.
It might be tempting to put your trap smack bang into the middle of your garden, where surely the most rats and mice will be scurrying. This isn’t necessarily the most effective position though, as rodents tend to avoid big open spaces.
Rats and mice prefer to run close to walls, plants and fences where they’re hidden from keen cat eyes. So the best place for your backyard trap is beside a wall or fence where the rats might be running.
If you don’t have a wall/fence to put your trap beside, or you’re not catching much, think about where in your garden the rats and mice might be hanging out.
Rodents will be attracted to places where they can find food and water. If you have a compost heap, chicken coop or trees that drop fruit on the ground your resident rats will probably be spending some time there, so that’s a good spot for your trap.
Another good place is beside a waterway if you have one as rats and mice tend to run alongside streams and creeks.
If you reach a trapping plateau and stop catching as many rats and mice as you used to, it could be because they’ve cottoned on to that fact that your yard isn’t safe.
They could be seeking sanctuary in properties nearby instead, so getting your neighbours involved in trapping will help ensure your entire neighbourhood is protected.
The data we collect from you is critical to measuring the success of the project.
Every fortnight we'll email the members of the group. Report back to us what you've caught.
Even if you've caught nothing, submit a zero report. It lets us know that your trap is still set and being checked.
Over time we'll build valuable insights into predator activity around Stokes Valley. We'll share these insights back with you via a monthly report on the website.