What Is the Best Rat Bait?

Rat traps are commonly baited with cheese, peanut butter, or bacon. The best choice of rat bait, however, depends on the type of rat you are trying to catch. Here are ten easy tips for choosing the best bait for trapping and removing rats. You can find more information here How to Get Rid of Rats.

#1 Tip

RatsBlack rats are vegetarians. Brown rats eat both plant foods and meat. According to the BBC, black rats have made a comeback  in the UK and here some facts about brown rats as supplied by the Bristol Zoo. If you have more than one kind of rat to catch, it is best to use a plant food such as peanut butter as bait.

#2 Tip

It’s best to use the same bait over and over again. Rats and mice cannot vomit, so they avoid potential poisoning by eating only tiny amounts of new foods. They are more likely to take a bait they have eaten before.

#3 Tip

If a rat smells a food on another rat’s breath, however, it will eat that food. Actually, rats need to smell a combination of carbon disulphide (or "rat breath") and a food odor to feel comfortable eating a new food. Once one rat takes a bait, others will compete for it. The best way to make sure this happens is to put out a bait food on traps you have not set for several days before you set the traps.

#4 Tip

Stinky, sulfurous smells attract rats. In fact, an extract of sulfur odor all by itself will encourage rats to eat wood, cardboard, and other non-nutritive materials. The stinkier the cheese, the more attractive it is to brown rats.

#5 Tip

Rats hold food in the paws and eat the middle, allowing the two ends to fall to the floor. Longer, thinner foods are preferred to nuggets or pellets.

#6 Tip

Large pieces of food used as rat bait can be dragged off or out of a trap and consumed elsewhere. Make sure the bait fits on the platform provided with the trap.

#7 Tip

Rat attractants in small amounts attract rats, but in large amounts they repel rats. Most rat attractants are synthetic versions of "rat breath odor" that rats use to signal the safety of a food supply. Using too much of the rat attractant—or using commercial rat bait that has been allowed to dry out—will chase rats away from traps.

#8 Tip

To entice a rat to enter a trap, place bait underneath the bait platform as well as on it. It’s also useful to place bait just outside the trap, enticing the rat to step on the trap or go inside the trap to get more.

#9 Tip

To entice a rat to enter a "rat zapper," place the bait to one side of the trap. Because of the placement of their eyes, rats have better vision of the bait when it is placed to the side of the trap than when it is put in the middle of the trap.

#10 Tip

If you have a problem with traps being set by vibrations without the rat inside, buy the Victor Rat Traps M326. It has a large bait tray that holds the bait in place until the rat is in the trap.


  1. Graeme rose says

    There is loud scratching noises coming from different areas of our house at different times its either at a window sill area or the cavity wall areas could this be rats

    • Simon says

      Hi Graeme,

      Before we identify a pest we would need a little more information:
      1. Are there any holes in the walls of your property where a rodent can enter?
      2. Are there any signs of animal droppings or smell?
      3. Is there any sign of damage or food being eaten?

    • says

      Hi Darla,
      I’m not aware or rats covering their holes. They may push debris back behind them as the gnaw their way through your home. To answer your question about the best bait, are we dealing with a black rat or a brown rat? Depending on the time of the year, you might want to use nest building material as bait.

  2. deborah says

    Hi Mark
    There’s a field behind my house and we sometimes get mice inside during winter. This year I’m not so sure. We’ve heard noises in wall cavities for several weeks but have not caught a glimpse or found droppings. I think I know where they’re coming in and have blocked it. I put out 3 humane traps using peanut butter&chocolate but nothing taken. I can’t find any disturbance to food in cupboards or any packages of food left out. I’ve now put a few things down to see what they might take for bait. They have taken some nuts and a small chicken bone (I heard them drop it on the floor), but have not eaten the porridge oats. I usually see the mice and their droppings. Is it rats?

    • says

      Hi Deborah,

      The description you gave can apply to both mice and rats. The reason why they have taken some bait and not others could be down to them smelling human scent on the humane traps.

      I would be diligent in blocking any holes, keep the traps going and put your detective hat on and see if you can gather any further evidence.


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