Donate Sign up for e-network
CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Secondary Control: Traps, Old and New

The best secondary way to control rodents is by using traps. *

• The best trap is the cheap, old-fashioned, wood-based “snap trap.” Using a snap trap is more humane than rodenticides: It kills instantly in most cases by breaking the rodent’s neck. Don’t put the trap right outside a suspected rodent hole. Instead, look for rub marks along walls as a sign of rodent pathways. Place the trap 90 degrees to the wall. Don’t set or bait the trap initially — let the rodents become used to its presence. After a day or two, bait the trap with peanut butter (chunky works best) and set. Setting the trap in the evening mitigates the chance of trapping “non-target” animals. Wear disposable gloves when emptying the traps so as not to come into contact with rodent urine, as it is a health hazard.

• A new type of trap that seems to work well is the electronic trap. Here, a rodent enters a bait box and is effectively shocked into immediate cardiac arrest with high voltage drawn from ordinary dry-cell batteries. Baiting, removal of the dead rat and monitoring are simple. The cost is not low, however.
Most units run from $30 to $50. Check buyer reviews online.

• Glue traps are not effective for rats and other larger rodents that can pull free of the glue. Glue traps are also less humane, because they allow for longer suffering from starvation or dehydration by the rodent and can result in rodents pulling free from glue traps with fur or skin removed. Glue traps are not recommended.

• Live traps (cages) pose substantial risk of exposure to the myriad health hazards involved in handling a live rodent and are not recommended.


If these hands-on pest-control methods do not appeal to you, by all means call a professional. Just be sure to stipulate that the method of eradication used does not involve anti-coagulant rodenticides and is otherwise safe for pets, children, wildlife and the environment. Dispose of leftover poisons responsibly. If you have been using anti-coagulant rodenticides and have decided to stop, bring any leftover products to your local toxic waste center, where they will be disposed of responsibly.

These useful tips aim to provide residents with confidence that there are alternatives available for dealing with rodents that do not involve rodenticides or any other toxic chemicals. Taking away their food, water and shelter lets rodents know that they are not welcome in your home. 


* Pest-control methods suggested by Richard Stanley, director of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Friends of Griffith Park. © The Griffith Reporter/Winter 2012-2013.
Swainson's hawk photo © Don Getty