3 Reasons why rats aren’t going for your traps

rat eyeing cheese

Hello homeowner, are you trying to trap some rats? At first were you having some measure of success but now it seems like the rats aren’t interested? Maybe you have a chicken coop out back and have been desperately trying to get your rodent issue under control but they never seem to go for the traps? Bird feeders maybe? How about fruit trees?

Here are 3 reasons why rats might not be interested in your traps and some easy solutions on how to fix the problem. 


Rats hate new things. Simple. Now there is some variation between rats that are used to constantly changing environments (urban rats) vs lab rats or rats in more rural environments. A rat population in an urban environment will be more likely to go after a new object more quickly than a lab rat due to their increased risk tolerance created by living in the city. So, when you have a rat in your kitchen and you place a trap from Home Depot under your stove, after handling it with bare hands and spreading cheese sauce all over it, don’t be surprised to find the rat slightly hesitant to get it’s neck snapped in your trapping device. Rats are very smart, so think like a rat: wear gloves to set the trap, and place it in areas that the rat is most likely to walk. Also, don’t go in and move it around every single day – let the rat get used to it as a part of it’s environment. 

Food Competition

Rats do everything based on a cost-benefit analysis of risk vs reward. If the rat jumps out into the open to grab the cheese burger on the table he might get seen and killed, so he stays behind the stove and steals dog food during the night when the risk is lower. So, with this in mind, don’t expect a rat to go after your traps (which can be considered a “high risk” endeavor for the rat) when they have ample food elsewhere. Common food sources are: Chicken coops, bird feeders, pet food, stored rice, grains, etc. or fruit/vegetable plants dropping produce in the yard. If you can remove the food competition then you greatly increase your chances of catching the rat.

Poor trap selection or placement 

Some things to consider when trapping rats – do you have the right trap? Are you trying to use a mouse trap to catch rats? Did you buy the cheapest rat trap available at the hardware store? How many traps do you have placed? Are they placed in common runways or areas where the rodents are likely to travel? Picking the right trap for the job is important to increase the success of a trapping project – and placing them well is paramount. 

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