10 tips for better snap trap success


January 22, 2021

It is relatively easy to arm a snap trap in order to capture that commensal rodent. However, a much higher skill level is needed in determining the proper placement and getting the rodent to take the bait.

Proper placement, based on careful observation, is critical. Lure choices and timing of setting is also important. Incorporation of the following tips will help ensure success and save you and your client time.

1. Start with a thorough inspection. Use droppings and sebum (grease marks) as guides to locating your traps (as seen in Image 1). Look for the likely areas where rodents might be harboring based on your knowledge of the pest. Access the hard-to-reach areas and inspect using ladders and lifts. Unload pallet stacks when necessary to gain access to infested pallets and “pallet mice.”

2. Pre-set traps with lures. Get the rodents comfortable with the traps before setting for the kill. Make sure the client and their staff are aware of the pre-set rule. Sometimes client staff will set traps to help, but it can result in trap shyness.


Image 1: Droppings and other rodent signs can be used as guides for trap placement. IMAGE: PAT HOTTEL, BCE

3. Use at least four different lures. Use the food the rodents are currently feeding on and then something that balances out their nutritional needs. For example, if they are feeding on oats, try something sweet like chocolate or something high in protein like bacon. When water is scarce, use a moist food. Do not forget to use non-food items like cotton balls and string as well (as seen in Image 2). The best lures will be difficult for the rodent to steal from the trap, do not spoil rapidly, and have an alluring odor. But keep in mind your client’s allergen control policy and comply. While peanut butter checks off most of the boxes for what makes a good lure, it is a “Big 8” allergen and cannot be used in some facilities.


Image 2: Use string as a lure. IMAGE: PAT HOTTEL, BCE

4. Place traps in rows. Rodents will jump over traps. If you have only one trap set, the rodent will likely clear it. When three traps are placed in a row, it is less likely for them to escape.

5. Disguise traps or use different style traps to overcome trap shyness. If the rodent will not go to wooden snap traps, try a plastic snap or clam shell style trap. You can also use shredded paper or sawdust to disguise snap traps by lightly covering the base.

6. Shut down traps for short periods of time after 5-7 days. Then, remove and reset the traps. By following this procedure, you can help increase captures.

7. Install traps on cut wooden boards. Or on sections of slip sheets for ease of placement and bar coding in intensive trapping programs. These can be placed under racking and between aisles in rodent runways.


Image 3: Trail bits of the food lure in front of the trap. IMAGE: PAT HOTTEL, BCE

8. Use remote cameras and trail cameras. These can help determine where rodents are moving and how they are reacting to your traps. Move control devices based on what the cameras report. Cameras can be an invaluable tool in observing rodent behaviors while you are not there.

Patricia Hottel, BCE

Patricia Hottel, BCE

9. Trail the food lure in front of the trigger. (as seen in Image 3) Get the rodent interested and comfortable in approaching the trigger.

10. Go beyond ground level. Do not forget the amazing climbing skills of both rats and mice. Rodents have the ability to travel on roofs, ledges and in suspended ceilings to find harborage and forage for food.

Contributor Patricia Hottel, BCE, is technical director for South Elgrin, Ill.-based McCloud Services. She can be reached at pathottel@mccloudservices.com.


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