Rat Traps: Types, Usage, Effectiveness & Comparison

Think of a house animal that chews through your stuff and is a carrier of diseases. It’s rats!! Many scientific studies, including a 2021 peer-reviewed research, warn that rats contaminate food and water sources with their urine and feces. So, how do you prevent their infestation? By using rat traps. 

But there are so many types of rat traps; which one should you use? Well, the most cost-effective option for you is snap traps and glue traps. If you care about humane trapping, live cage traps allow you unharmed capture of rats. For ease of use, you have to use electronic traps. 

Now, you must be intrigued to know how we provided these verdicts. Read on below! 

Types of Rat Traps

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, rats transmit over 60 different pathogens, including leptospirosis, plague, salmonellosis, and hantavirus. So, the traps to fight this infestation are of many types as well. 

Types of Rat Traps

However, the main 4 types of rat traps are:

  1. Snap traps
  2. Live traps
  3. Electronic traps
  4. Glue traps

Let’s explore each type, how they’re used, and how useful they are.

A. Snap Traps

They consist of a wooden or plastic base, a metal wire, a trigger, and a bait holder. The metal wire is bent into a U-shape and attached to the base with a spring. 

The trigger is a metal rod that holds the wire in place. The bait holder is a small cup or platform that holds the bait, such as cheese, peanut butter, or meat.

When a rat tries to get the bait, it touches the trigger, which releases the wire. The wire snaps over the rat’s neck, killing it instantly. They deliver a quick and humane death to rats.

Snap Traps

The advantages of snap traps are:

  • Cheap and easy to find
  • Reusable and durable
  • Have a high kill rate and rarely fail to catch rats
  • Do not use any chemicals or electricity that could harm humans

B. Live Traps

Live traps are cages or boxes that capture rats alive without harming them. They usually have a one-way door that closes when the rat enters the trap. The door is triggered by a mechanism that is activated by the rat’s weight or movement. 

Live Traps

The advantages of live traps are:

  • Humane and ethical
  • Do not use any chemicals or electricity that could harm humans
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors, in any weather condition, and for any size of rats

C. Electronic Traps

Electronic traps are battery-powered devices that electrocute rats when they step on a metal plate inside the trap. They usually have a bait holder, a tunnel, and an indicator light. 

The bait holder is a small cup or platform that holds the bait, such as cheese, peanut butter, or meat. The tunnel is a plastic or metal chamber that leads to the metal plate. And the indicator light is an LED or LCD that shows when the trap is armed, triggered, or needs to be emptied.

When a rat enters the tunnel, it touches the metal plate, which completes an electric circuit. The trap delivers a high-voltage shock to the rat, killing it instantly. 

Electronic Traps

The advantages of electronic traps are:

  • They are convenient to use
  • Hygienic and odorless
  • Prevents any blood or smell from escaping
  • They kill rats quickly and painlessly

4. Glue Traps

These traps are actually flat surfaces coated with a sticky adhesive. They immobilize rats when they touch the adhesive coating. 

They usually have a cardboard, plastic, or metal base and a glue layer that covers the entire surface. The glue layer may contain attractants, such as peanut butter, cheese, or meat.

A rat gets stuck and cannot move when it steps on the glue trap. The rat may die from dehydration, starvation, suffocation, or predation.

Glue Traps

The advantages of glue traps are:

  • Cheap and easy to find
  • Simple and convenient to use
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors, in any weather condition, and for any size of rats

Usage of Rat Traps: Baits, Placement, Frequency

According to the US government consensus, 14.8 million households in 2021 alone were infested with rats in the US. So, if you don’t want your house to be one of these in the future, you must know the sure-success way to set the trap. 

Usage of Rat Traps

And the success depends on bait selection, trap placement, and the number of traps. These factors will define the success or failure of your traps. 

A. Bait Selection Guide

Your bait should be attractive, palatable, and accessible to rats for the best kill rate.

Follow these tips for bait selection:

  • Use fresh and moist bait that has a strong smell and taste. Rats prefer protein, fat, or sugar foods, such as cheese, peanut butter, meat, nuts, fruits, or chocolate.
  • Avoid using foods that rats hate, such as onions, garlic, or hot peppers.
  • Use small amounts of bait that are enough to trigger the trap but not enough to satisfy the rat. 
  • Change the bait regularly to keep it appealing. 

B. Trap Placement Guide

Need fast reduction of rats? Place traps in areas along their travel routes, near their nesting sites, or near their food sources. 

Follow these tips for trap placement:

  • Look for droppings, tracks, gnaw marks, burrows, grease stains, or noises that indicate where rats are living, feeding, or moving.
  • Place the traps along the edges of walls, corners, or other structures that rats use as guides or shelters. Rats tend to avoid open spaces and prefer to run along walls or other vertical surfaces.
  • Place the traps in pairs or groups, spaced about 10 to 15 feet apart. Rats may avoid a single trap or escape from one trap and encounter another.
  • Secure the traps to the ground or surface with nails, screws, wires, or glue. This will prevent the traps from being moved, flipped, or dragged by rats or other animals.

C. Number of Traps To Use

How many traps should you set? The more rats there are, the more traps are needed. The less effective the traps are, the more traps are needed.

Follow these tips for determining the number of traps:

  • Estimate the size of the rat infestation by using clues and signs. Such as droppings, tracks, gnaw marks, burrows, grease stains, or noises. The more clues and signs there are, the larger the infestation is.
  • Use a 1:2 ratio of rats to traps to calculate the number of traps needed. For example, if there are 10 rats in an area, you may need 20 traps to catch them. 

Comparing the Effectiveness of Rat Traps

Comparing the Effectiveness of Rat Traps

Let’s compare the major types of rat traps based on different criteria, such as:

A. Capture Rate: This is the percentage of successful capturing. 

B. Kill Rate: It is the percentage of rats that are killed by the traps out of the total number of rats that are caught by the traps.

C. Humane Treatment: It is the degree of pain, suffering, or distress that the traps cause to the rats. 

D. Safety: It’s the degree of risk or harm that the traps pose to humans.

E. Cost: It’s the amount of money that is spent by using the traps. 

Comparison of Rat Traps

Here is a comparison of the effectiveness of different rat trap types:

Trap TypeCapture RateKill RateHumane TreatmentSafetyCost
Snap Traps50-90%80-100%0-20%0-20%$2-$5 per trap
Live Traps10-40%0-20%80-100%80-100%$15-$25 per trap
Electronic Traps60-80%90-100%0-20%40-60%$35-$45 per trap
Glue Traps20-50%10-40%0-20%0-20%$2-$4 per trap


Here are some common queries that you might have in your head regarding rat traps.

Q1. Which rat traps homeowners on a budget should use?

Homeowners on a budget should consider traditional snap traps. They are inexpensive but have a high capture and kill rate. 

Q2. I care about cruelty; which traps are least painful for rats?

In case you’re concerned about the humane treatment of rats, use live traps to capture and relocate the pests unharmed. 

Q3. What are the best traps to be used in commercial rat control practices?

For commercial pest control professionals, electronic traps show high effectiveness because of their ease of use. 

Q4. Which trap type can get me the best rate of rat capture?

For the highest rate of capture, use a combination of traps like snap and electronic traps. Take advantage of multiple capture methods.

Final Words

As you can see, not all traps are created equal. Snap traps kill rats instantly, live traps capture alive, electronic traps electrocute rats, and glue traps immobilize rats.

So which one should you use? We recommend using electronic traps as the best type of rat trap for most situations. If you prefer a cheaper and easier option, consider using snap or glue traps instead of electronic traps.

Lisa G

Meet Lisa G, the founder and author of RodentsFact.com. With over 3 years of experience studying and observing various species of rodents. Lisa has established herself as a credible expert in the field. Her passion for these often-overlooked animals shines through in her in-depth articles and engaging writing style. Follow her blog to learn fascinating facts and gain a new appreciation for the furry creatures that share our world.

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