Monday, July 19, 2010

Caught a Rat or Mouse in a Live Capture Trap – What Then?

There is a great lifestyle block website community that I contribute to when I have the time. is a very lively and interesting site with a forum that has threads ranging from what people are eating for dinner to ‘Escape artist sheep.’

A thread was started yesterday on ‘Humane killing of rats?’ This reminded me of a couple of incidents I have had when faced with the problem of catching live rats or mice and what to do with them. Here is one.

Shortly after I arrived in New Zealand about six years ago, and while working for a pest control service company, I got a call from a distressed home owner who claimed she had trapped a rat in her kitchen. Her house was not far from where I was so I donned my armour, mounted my white steed, and went to the rescue.

Normally in these situations I have found the rodent has escaped by the time of my arrival. So I was expecting the same again. The lady stood on a chair in the sitting room while I, trousers tucked down socks, entered the kitchen and began my search armed with a bucket. I had opened all the cupboards, pulled out the fridge and almost exhausted the possible hiding places. The last places to look where the drawers. As I pulled out the last drawer I was content to find it empty too. Then I looked underneath and behind. In the shadows the rat looked back, it’s whiskers quivering. “Ummm?” What to do now? The home owner was watching my every move through the glass serving hatch. How was I going to look cool?

There was noting for it but to pull the drawer out, flush the rat and try and catch it. Bucket at the ready, I slid the drawer out, the rat leaped across the kitchen floor and I dived headlong like a scrum half’s dive pass. No one was as surprised as I that I managed to trap the rat under the bucket first try……..not even the rat. I felt great satisfaction.

Then it dawned on me I was going to have to remove the rat and deal with it in a humane manner. I slipped a piece of cardboard under the bucket and deftly upturned it, keeping the rat trapped. To ‘applause’ from the home owner I took the rat out to my Ute where I knew I had a hammer. A swift knock to the head is the recommended humane method to kill a rat in this situation. However, it is easier said than done. Thankfully out of sight of the home owner, I opened the lid of the bucket with hammer at the ready. With leather gloves as protection the plan was to grab the rat, hold its head steady and inflict the fatal blow.

The rat had other plans. It made a leap for freedom as soon as the lid was partially off. The second scrum half’s dive was not so successful. Off it leaped across the road and down a drain before I hit the ground.

Sheepishly I returned to the house and told the home owner that the rat ‘would not be seen again.’ This slight of the tongue reassured the lady. But I left her only after giving her house the ‘once over’ for possible entry points and sealing several up.

In the Lifestyle Block forum there are several methods of dispatching rats discussed; drowning, gassing, shooting and the hammer. The difficulties in dispatching a rat trapped by a live capture trap suggest to me at least, that snap traps are the best and (usually) most humane method of catching rats and mice if baits are not an option.

In another blog I will tell you the story of the Mars Bar Mice.

Why do some experiments use lawyers instead of lab rats?
Because there are more of them, there are some things even rats won’t do, and the experimenters prove less likely to become emotionally attached to lawyers than rats.


  1. For those looking for a humane option, using a rat trap comprised of a metal cage with a special mechanism designed to close once the rat enters the cage. Inside the metal cage, bait is placed to entice the rat to enter. The rat triggers the door to shut upon entering the cage and ends up trapped inside. This allows you to trap, transport and release the rat at a location of your choosing.

  2. Thank you Rat Trap for your comment. I would point out that rats and mice can be loathed to enter traps. While it may catch the majority, it is unlikely to catch them all. If a rat goes into such a trap and, as they often do, triggers the mechanism but manages to escape. That rat is unlikely to ever go near a trap again. This is known as trap shyness.

    Releasing a rat at another location, if far enough away from home, is really only transfering the problem to someone else. What would happen if every one did that?

  3. I found a rat on my patio, got a Rat Trap live cage as explain above, put in bait and within a day I caught the rat! He was soo scared poor thing, I took the cage by the handle and released it somewhere far from the house. Maybe not the most effective way as they can always come back, but def the best option for someone like me who doesn't like to inflict pain on small creatures …

  4. Made from FSC certified wood the Victor Mouse Traps are very sturdy and long lasting. The snap wire part of the Victor Mouse Trap is so strong that it could even break your finger. Mice are naturally curious so if you place a piece of bait on top of the plastic triggering which is more sensitive than metals ones it will trap your rodent right away.
    rat mouse traps

    1. Hi,

      Traditional rodent traps can be very useful as part of a rodent control program. If they are set correctly, perpendicular to a wall in a secluded place, they don't even need to have bait on them.

  5. Trapper Glue Boards are non-poisonous glue traps that capture rats and mice. Trapper glue boards come in a package of two face-to- face that separates easily for placement. Trapper glue boards are ideal to use in food plants, kitchens, restaurants, food processing plants, hospitals, residences, zoos and other sensitive areas where the use of poison is prohibited or discouraged. For better results it is recommended to be used with the Trapper Plastic tunnels.
    how to catch a rat

    1. Glue boards can be very effective, but are regarded as inhumane. In New Zealand they are only used by professionals and even this will be banned in 2015.

  6. We moved to NZ 7 years ago. Bought a lifestyle block and 15yr old house. We didn’t know that we had also bought a plague of rats in the attic too! The previous owner said that they never had rats, and we must have bought them with us (cheeky bastard!) anyway, we set too, chopped down all the trees and bushes around the house, within at least 2mtrs, removed all the old stinking insulation and replaced it (the attic and first floor rooms stank!), then went to war. I shot em, poisoned em, drowned em, trapped em, strobe lighted em…. And we have only had one rat in the attic in the last six years. I know this, as I put lighting all around the attic, and bordered it out so you can even walk around up there… we keep a careful check, and always have baited traps up there just in case. Have had the occasional mouse, but trap always gets them.
    We still have a rat population outdoors, as we have a creek, natural streams, fruit trees etc. I guess it would be impossible to kill them all, they would only come back again, but I do shoot as many as I can, and trap some too.
    I read so often about folk who wont kill them, but would sooner set them free elsewhere. These folk are bordering on the insane. As you say, too many Disney films. Rodents have no place in or around the home. They are destructive, carry diseases and cause no end of trouble, not to mention the costs, both material and possible risks your health. I don’t give a toss whether they drown, get shot, trapped, poisoned, eaten by cats… whatever. One of the best traps I have made is a plastic dustbin with a revolving empty bean can on a stick, and peanut butter for bait. Half fill the bin with water etc (google it) I caught five rats in one night in the woodshed with this!

    1. Thanks for the comment.

      New Zealand has no native mammals so the rats here are all invaders and damage the natural environment, as well as being nuisance pests and carrying disease. There are three species of rat here; roof rat, norway ray and pacific rat. All compete with native birds for food, kill chicks and eat eggs. New Zealand is in the forefront of eradicating rats from offshore islands and predator free reserves.

  7. I discovered a rat in my room eating my chocolates and i chased and cornered for about 3 hours until i finally caught it in a plastic shoe box. I released it somewhere where there are almost no houses. I read somewhere that if you free a rat within a 2 km radius, they can still find their way back to you/their home.



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