How to Do It Yourself Pest Control & Choosing the Best Animal Traps to Buy


Your home is a place for you and your family, at least, that’s what you hope. You probably wouldn’t invite homeless people off the street to share your home, and you shouldn’t share it with anything else either. That includes creatures such as mice, rats, moles, squirrels, and more.

NOTE: You can download this guide as a PDF file here if you prefer to read offline or print it.

Table of Contents

Rodent Control: Your Home and Health
Pros & Cons of Using a Pest Control Company?
How to Prevent Rodents from Taking-Up Residence in Your Home
What to Do If You Think You Have a Pest Infestation

The Price and Your Budget

  1. Dealing with Mice
  2. Dealing with Rats
  3. Dealing with Squirrels
  4. Dealing with Moles
  5. Alternatively if you like hunting
  6. Safe & Humane Deterrents

Rodent Control Product Warranties
Tips and Tricks to Rodent Control
Are You Ready To Set Your Own Traps?

Where to go from here:

Rodent Control: Your Home and Health

Household pests can be more than just a nuisance. They can damage your health and destroy your property to the tune of many thousands of dollars. That alone is surely reason enough to take a positive proactive stance against any kind of pest infestation.

If you wait until you have a problem, it’s usually too late to fully limit the potential damage of both a risk to your health and a risk to your property. For that reason, you should take steps before you have a problem to insure against an infestation of any kind.

This is likely to be more than just a one-time task. It requires vigilance with regular checks, and doing what it takes from time to time to prevent infestation. If you do this in a systematic manner, it need not be onerous or very time consuming. Remember also that you will be taking positive steps to eliminate a potential health risk to your family, as well as protecting your valuable property. Surely that’s worth a little bit of extra effort.

Each pest is different, and for that reason you will need to treat a wasp infestation quite differently from a mouse infestation. This is why it is so important that you learn at least the basics of pest control. You don’t need to earn a university degree in the matter – just learn a few important facts about each pest you are, sooner or later, likely to encounter.

This ebook will provide you with all the facts you need to know in order to deal with any problem you might face. You will discover the typical signs to look out for that tells you a pest is in the process of taking up residence in your house, and the necessary steps to take when you do.

You will also discover why reaching for the Yellow Pages to find a pest control company is rarely ever necessary, and not always a good idea in any case. This will save you money, as well as giving you a nice warm glow from knowing you did it all yourself. And you’ll be delighted to discover also that it really is not at all difficult to do.

So, with all that said, it’s time to get started on your fascinating journey to protecting your family and home against the many different creatures who are never welcome visitors.

Pros & Cons of Using a Pest Control Company?

Most people turn to a pest control company as soon as they detect a pest infestation in their home. Some pest control companies are excellent and they do a really good job, but pay for what you get.

If the company doesn’t charge very much, be suspicious and don’t expect a very thorough job. You will usually find that you have to do a lot to put things right again after they leave, or even employ another pest control company to do it for you.

If the company charges a lot, then they can reasonably be expected to do a good job, but the bill they present you with will most likely make you wince. The services of a good quality pest control company do not come cheap, and if the charges are cheap, don’t expect a good job.

What’s the alternative?

Do it yourself! That’s what. Think about this. It will not cost you much of your hard earned money, and in many cases it will cost you nothing at all. Also, you will get a thorough and perfect job done, for after all, it’s your own home you are protecting.

The average pest control company will charge you from around $70 to $100 for each visit they make to your home. It may even be more, depending on the situation you face, and they may need to make several visits.

Also, do you know a good pest control company when you see one? Most people don’t. The cowboys in this market can look every bit as professional as the real professionals. This can make it a bit of a lottery.

Here’s a true story: I once had a wasp infestation in my loft. I contacted a pest control company and they agreed to come and remove the wasp’s nest.

When they came down from the loft, they told me that they had dealt with the wasp’s nest, but had also discovered an infestation of mice, which would be best dealt with as well, since they were already there. I agreed and gave them the go-ahead to clear up the mouse problem. They told me I should stay away from the loft until they had finished the work.

Later, after they had completed the work and I had paid them, I decided to go up to the loft and have a look for myself. To my dismay I found absolutely no evidence of mice anywhere, no smell, no traps, nothing gnawed in the way mice do – nothing. I had been well and truly scammed! This is something you WILL avoid if you deal with pest control yourself.

How to Prevent Rodents from Taking-Up Residence in Your Home

Prevention is better than cure. It’s also much less expensive too, in most cases. Once you have taken proper measure to prevent rodents getting into your home, it simply becomes an easy matter of doing regular checks to ensure that everything is still fine.

The first thing you need to understand is that mice and rats can squeeze through openings much smaller than you might think. If you find a small opening somewhere and you dismiss it, thinking that a mouse or a rat would never squeeze through it, think again and block it up.

Start by looking for holes and gaps inside your home. Do this thoroughly. Move large items, such as refrigerators, settees, beds, cabinets, etc. to get behind them and check for any gap or hole at all that might cause a problem.

Rodents Nest

Check also where pipes go through walls. Get down on your knees and check under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Check the seals around vents also. Really force yourself to think of every possible place where a gap might be, and then check it, sealing it if necessary.

When you have fully checked the inside of the house, start on the outside. The roof is a prime place for creatures getting into your house. Check the eaves, rafters and gables for any potential entry point. Also check for gaps around all doors and windows. Check where electric cable enters the house, and where any plumbing pipes enter or leave as well.

The foundations of a house are another area where mice and rats can enter a house. Check this part thoroughly. This is not a job to be rushed, so take your time. You’ll spend more time getting rid of rodents if they do enter your home, so this is time well spent.

Always remember to check the gap under all outside doors. It is imperative that when the door is properly closed there is no possibility of a mouse or rat being able to crawl underneath.

Use steel wool to fill small holes and caulk around the area to fully seal it. Cement can be used for larger holes outside, or you can fit a metal sheet to really seal it tight. How you seal holes and gaps is less important than being absolutely certain that you have sealed them properly and completely.

What to Do If You Think You Have a Pest Infestation

You should first understand that rodents will come into your home primarily in search of food and water. They, like us, need these essentials of life, and once they find them in a nice warm house, they naturally start thinking they have found a great place to rear a family, and of course, they are right.

This is why you have to start off by depriving rats and mice of their food and water source as soon as you think you have a pest problem. That creates a problem for them.

Next, you should seal up any holes or gaps you can find. This will severely limit their ability to move around, especially into the places where they have previously found food and water, which will most likely be your kitchen.

The next thing to do is to set traps to catch the pests. They will now be seeking food and water on a more desperate basis, and detecting the bait on a trap will have them scurrying eagerly towards it.

Finally, you should clean up all traces of the rodents. This will primarily be their droppings. Always take suitable precautions when cleaning up behind rodents as there can be a health risk involved.

Once you have cleaned up fully and properly, think about keeping all foods in sealed containers, or safely behind your refrigerator door. This will prevent foodstuffs becoming contaminated, with the resultant health risks, and it will prevent the rodents from having a food and drink source.

The Price and Your Budget

While it may seem an easier solution to simply call in a pest control company, as already pointed out, it will be much cheaper to do it all yourself. Add to that the fact that very few people can recognize a good pest control company when they see one, and that there are many pest control companies that will rip you off, it makes perfect sense to do it yourself.

The cost of doing it all yourself is really no more than the price of good traps. You will have to put in a few hours of your time as well, but that is all.

Compare that to paying around $70 to $100 for each visit that a pest control company has to make to your home. That may not sound too much if they can do the job in a single visit, but do you know for certain that’s the case? Three visits, for example, and you are looking at a sizeable amount to pay out.

It really does make sense to do it all yourself.

Using the right traps is part of the secret to successfully keeping your costs down in all this. The humane traps certainly don’t harm the animals, but you then have to release them back into the wild, and that means they might find their way back into your house, negating all you hard work.

The electronic Rat Zapper Ultra traps are probably the best traps available at catching and killing rodent pests in your home. Unlike snap traps, there is no risk that they will merely injure the animal, leaving it there to suffer. The Ultra Zap traps will kill cleanly and very quickly, every time, thereby making them very cost-effective to use.

Finding the Right Trap or Deterrent for You

When we think of mouse or rat traps, we usually think of the traditional wooden rat snap traps or mouse snap traps that have a spring-loaded bar that will snap down on the neck of the rodent as soon as it triggers the traps by nibbling on the bait.

These types of traps certainly work, and can be highly effective at killing rodents, but they will only work at full efficiency if the rodent approaches the bait in the proper manner.

Rodents are thinking animals, and therefore they don’t always do this. This can mean that the animal can be caught by a foot or leg, or some other part of its body, causing severe injury, but not death.

If you do not check your traps regularly, this can therefore mean that the animal is left to suffer a slow and agonizing death. This is not a very humane way to treat even the pests that invade your home.

Also, if the animal is still alive when you check the trap, you will have to kill it yourself. Most people will find this a very unpleasant thing to do.

Humane traps work by trapping the animal, but not harming it in any way. However, you are then left with a trapped and frightened animal that you will have to release.

The idea is that you then take it far away from your home and release it back into the wild, unharmed. However, that involves a lot of work, and there’s always the chance it will find its way back inside your home, sooner or later.

There is always the chance that you will not check your humane traps regularly enough. This could mean that the trapped animals will suffer from starvation, and possibly even die if left alone for too long without food and water.

Glue Trap

Glue traps work by trapping the pest on a coating of strong glue that is attached to a rigid surface, such a strip of hard board. Glue traps are really quite cruel as the animal is trapped for hours or even days on a strip of glue, and will need to be killed when discovered.

Spreading rat or mouse poison in infected areas is never a good idea. What will attract a mouse or rat may also attract the family pet, and cause their death or suffering. Also, if you have small children in your home, avoid the use of poison for obvious reasons. Poisons are not environmentally friendly and have no place in the home.

Let’s now look at some actual traps and deterrents in more detail.

(1) Dealing with Mice

The Rat Zapper Classic is actually designed for rats, but it works equally well for mice too. Purchasing this trap will mean you won’t have to buy separate ones for rats and mice, thereby saving you some money.

This is an electronic mouse trap. It works by enticing a mouse into the trap through having a piece of bait inside. When the mouse (or rat) steps on a special plate inside the trap, it completes an electronic circuit, which sends a high voltage current through the animal, killing it instantly and cleanly.

A good alternative to the Classic is the Victor M260 Multi-Kill Electronic Mouse Trap. It works in a similar way and it is every bit as efficient in ridding your home of rodent pests.

An alternative to electronic traps are humane mouse repellents. The Ultrasonic Pest Repeller is a good example of this type. It isn’t a mouse trap, per se, but rather an electronic device designed to repel the animals by sending out an electronic signal that is loud and extremely irritating to the animals, but inaudible to humans and pets.

The idea is that the rodents will leave the house as they can’t stand the sound. The theory is a good one in principle, but there is some evidence that suggests rodents can in some cases get used to the electronic signals and eventually ignore them.

Also, these devices will typically only cover an area of about 3,000 square feet, so you will need a number of them to cover a whole house effectively.

(2) Dealing with Rats

The Rat Zapper Classic is actually designed as a rat trap, and is therefore perfect for trapping these pests. It is battery powered and has a red light indicator to tell you when the batteries need replacing. Pests caught in an electronic trap do not suffer. They are killed instantly without blood or gore.

A good alternative to the Rat Zapper Classic is the Rat Zapper Ultra Rodent Trap RZU001. It is very similar to the smaller classic, but is larger so can kill more rats.

Another alternative electronic rat trap is the Victor M240 Electronic Rat Trap.

It should be remembered that when using these traps, the smell of dead rats (or mice) inside will eventually put off live rats from entering the trap. You are then advised to clean out the trap thoroughly and carefully with vinegar to get rid of any smells, at which point the trap will work like a charm once more.

The RODAR II Ultrasonic Pest Repeller is an alternative to using an electronic rat trap. It will send out a loud and irritating electronic signal to rats that they will find unbearable, but will be inaudible to humans and household pets.

(3) Dealing with Squirrels

Humane repellents work well with squirrels in keeping them off your property. The ultrasonic squirrel repellent is one of the best examples as it is highly efficient and very easy to use.

If you prefer a trap and release device for squirrels, and other small animal pests, the Havahart 1078 Live Animal Professional Style One-Door Rabbit, Skunk, Mink, and Squirrel Cage Trap is an excellent choice for its purpose.

(4) Dealing with Moles

Moles are not quite as easy to trap as rodents, such as mice and rats. They spend much of their time underground, burrowing under lawns and yards, causing unsightly lumps and bumps on the ground.

The best mole traps are those that are:

· easy to use without you having to guess what to do

· safe to use without the need for poisons or dangerous chemicals

· safe to handle without dangerous prongs and spikes to set into the ground

· no additional work, such as digging up part of a mole tunnel

· effective and dependable – getting the job done every time

One of the best mole traps is the Wire Tek 1001 EasySet Mole Eliminator Trap. This trap works by having two powerful scissors like mechanisms that are inserted into the top of a mole tunnel. The device is then primed by depressing the setting level by foot.

This makes the Wire Tek 1001 EasySet Mole Eliminator Trap safe to use. It is also very effective, as it will be activated by a mole in either direction. As long as it is set in an active tunnel, the mole will, sooner or later, come along to investigate and trigger the trap. Once this happens, it is easy to see that the trap has been triggered.

The Black Hole Rodent Trap is a more traditional type of mole trap. It requires you to dig out a section of an active mole tunnel in order to insert the trap. You then need to disguise the trap as much as possible before setting it in readiness for the approach of a mole.

The trap needs to be baited, which can be done once the trap is in place by dropping bait through a hole on top of the trap. There is a little more work involved in using this trap, but it works well if used properly.

Another good mole trap is the Nash Choker Loop Mole Trap. This trap does not need bait. It works by cutting a couple of slots into an active mole tunnel, then lowering the device into the tunnel and setting the trap. When a mole comes along it will set off the trap when it steps on the trigger plate.

The Nash Choker Loop Mole Trap and the Black Hole Rodent Trap both involve a bit more effort and work than the Wire Tek 1001 EasySet Mole Eliminator Trap, which is also the most effective of the three.

(5) Alternatively if you like hunting…

These guns and rifles will take out a rat, mouse and squirrels

If you are in to hunting, then the Crossman 1377 American Classic Variable Pump Power Bolt Action Air Pistol or the Crosman 760 Pump Master Variable Pump BB Repeater/Single Shot Pellet Rifle will do a great job of ridding your property of squirrel pests.

(6) Safe & Humane Deterrents

Keep pets and wildlife out of yard and garden – cats, dogs, foxes, rabbits, deer, etc.

The Contech CRO101 Scarecrow Motion Activated Sprinkler is a really great and extremely efficient product for keeping unwanted animals out of your yard.

It works by having a motion detector that will send out a strong jet of water sprayed in an arc as soon as it detects any movement nearby. This will surprise and frighten any unsuspecting animal that dares to enter your yard, but without harming them in any way. It will effectively guard an area of around 1,000 square feet.

The Bird-X YG Yard Gard Ultrasonic Animal Repeller is another good alternative. It works by having a motion detector that activates an electronic signal whenever nearby motion is detected. The signal is an extremely irritating one for birds and small animals. It will cover an area of around 4,000 square feet.

The Havahart 1078 Live Animal Professional Style One-Door Rabbit, Skunk, Mink, and Squirrel Cage Trap is an excellent alternative to repelling pests, but it does mean that they have to be released again, preferably far away from your property. This trap will, of course, not harm the animals it traps.

Rodent Control Product Warranties

When you decide to buy a rodent control product, you need to know that there are suitable warranties in place to protect you in the event that the product is delivered in a faulty condition, or simply that you need to replace it or return it for any reason.

Shopping online with Amazon means you are shopping in one of the most trusted stores in the world. Amazon has been around much longer than most online companies, and they have built up a strong reputation in that time of efficiency and fairness.

Amazon is also very often the most cost-effective place to shop online, as they can usually sell their products cheaper than most of their competitors. They are also hard to beat for the sheer range of goods they carry, and no matter where you live, they will deliver your goods right to your door.

Amazon has an excellent returns policy in place to help protect its customers. If the item you purchase does not fit your purpose in any way, they will accept your return of the goods within 30 days of purchase.

You can expect to be refunded for your purchase in about two to three weeks at the most, with the majority of refunds taking only three to five days after they receive your return and process your refund.

You can discover more about Amazon’s return policy on this page.

Tips and Tricks to Rodent Control

The best way to ensure effective rodent control is to:

· choose the right product

· use the right bait for the right rodent

· place the traps in exactly the right place

It is entirely up to you, of course, which type of trap you choose to control rodents in your home. You have the choice of using humane traps, electronic traps, or rodent repellers.

You can also use the more traditional snap traps, glue traps or spread rodent poison, but we do not advise this approach as it is a cruel and even dangerous approach.

Using the right product with the right bait for the rodent you intend to trap, coupled with intelligent trap placement, has always proven to be the most effective and efficient way of dealing with a rodent problem.

Are You Ready To Set Your Own Traps?

Once you know for certain you have a rodent problem in your home, it’s time to set traps to catch them. We will assume you have also implemented the advice of sealing up possible entry points given in the earlier chapter, How to Prevent Rats, Mice and Other Rodents from Taking-Up Residence in Your Home.

For rats and mice, the Agri Zap RZU001 Rat Zapper Ultra is what we consider the best choice of trap.

You should wear disposable gloves when handling the trap, as mice and rats can smell where humans have been, and they might be put off entering the trap if they smell you hands on the surface.

Baiting the Agri Zap RZU001 Rat Zapper Ultra is easy, and peanut butter works really well. For best results, smear a very small amount of peanut butter at the entrance to the trap. This gives the rodent a free sample of what is to come, and will help to allay any fears it might have.

Inside the trap you should place a larger and therefore much more irresistible amount of peanut butter. Place this piece on a small piece of paper, a sheet of candy paper works well for this purpose. Using a piece of paper in this way will help to keep the inside of the trap clean.

Once your trap is properly baited, it needs to be properly placed in order to be effective. You will need to make a thorough inspection of your premises beforehand to determine where the most rodent activity is to be found. This is where you are most likely to catch rodents.

Also, experiment with different types of bait. Use small pieces of fried bacon and various different meats. While peanut butter usually works extremely well, other baits could work even better, depending on your particular situation.

A good alternative to the Agri Zap RZU001 Rat Zapper Ultra is the Victor M260 Multi-Kill Electronic Mouse Trap. It works in a similar way and should be baited and placed in the same way too.

An alternative to using an electronic rodent trap is to use a rodent or squirrel repeller, such as the RODAR II Ultrasonic Pest Repeller.

Placement of this device should be carried out in the same way as the traps; place it where the most animal activity can be found.

The Havahart 1078 Live Animal Trap One-Door Rabbit, Skunk, Mink, and Squirrel Cage Trap should of course be used outdoors where the most animal activity is detected. Again, peanut butter, juicy bacon or meats can be used as bait.

The Wire Tek 1001 EasySet Mole Eliminator Trap is the most effective mole trap, though the Black Hole Rodent Trap and the Nash Choker Loop Mole Trap are good alternatives.

The Contech CRO101 Scarecrow Motion Activated Sprinkler and the Bird-X YG Yard Gard Ultrasonic Animal Repeller is strictly for outdoor use. Again though, they should be placed where the most animal activity has been detected.

If you prefer to hunt animal pests that invade your yard, then using the Crossman 1377 American Classic Variable Pump Power Bolt Action Air Pistol or the Crosman 760 Pump Master Variable Pump BB Repeater/Single Shot Pellet Rifle should only be done by someone who understands the use of firearms.

These may only be air-guns, but they have the potential to injure humans too if used carelessly. Hunting pests such as squirrels should only be practised outside, and never in the home.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Bait To Use to Catch a Mouse?

Anything that the mouse will readily eat is the simple answer. Cheese is the traditional bait, and it will work well, but peanut butter seems to have overtaken cheese as the bait of choice.

2. What Bait To Use to Catch A Rat?

Rats are the larger cousins of mice and peanut butter works well with them too. Bacon and fruits also work well with rats as bait.

3. What Bait To Use to Catch A Squirrel?

Cereal, grains, nuts and seeds work well as bait for squirrels. Shelled corn and apple also works well. The trick is to experiment to find out what works best for you.

4. How Do You Bait Traps?

It depends on what kind of trap, in a way. For electronic traps, such as the Agri Zap RZU001 Rat Zapper Ultra or the Victor M260 Multi-Kill Electronic Mouse Trap, the bait should be placed so that the animal will have to stand squarely on the special plate where it will receive the lethal electric shock.

Don’t place the bait too close to the entrance of the trap as there is always a chance that the animal could get the bait without triggering the trap.

For a squirrel trap, such as the Havahart 1078 Live Animal Professional Style One-Door Rabbit, Skunk, Mink, and Squirrel Cage Trap, the bait should be placed right at the back of the trap, so that the animal will definitely trigger the door shutting mechanism and be trapped inside, rather than just get a free meal and be able to wander away again.

When you bait any kind of trap, always use the most appropriate kind of bait for a start, and look to the desired end result, then bait the trap in such a way that the desired end result is most likely to be achieved.

5. Where Do You Place The Traps?

Traps of any kind should always be placed in or close to the places where there is the most recent evidence of pest activity.

6. How Many Traps Should You Use?

As many as you need, really. For mice and rats, about one trap every 10 feet or so if the infestation is a serious one. For outdoor squirrel traps, one may be enough. It really depends on the individual situation.

NOTE: You can download this guide as a PDF file here if you prefer to read offline or print it.


Mark has a strong background in Engineering and a huge interest in Pest Control as a way of getting rid of rodents and other unwanted pests who can cause a nuisance in your home and garden. You can subscribe to his free daily paper on Pest Control Solutions and follow him on Facebook or Twitter

View Comments

  • Found my indoor cats watching a small black furry creature this morning in the kitchen. It looked to me like a baby mole. I was able to sweep it out the door with a broom. Then I found a hole in the metal screen in the range hood over the stove. There was debris on the stove top, which alerted me to the hole. I'm guessing that the little creature ate thru the range hood screen and that's how it got in.
    Can a mole do this, and do I need to look for more baby moles in the attic?

    • It sounds like a mole did do this from your description. If it was a mole then the question is why did it do it. I don't know where in the world you are, are you experiencing some harsh weather conditions, or is the ground water logged which is driving the animals upwards. Yes definitely check your attic and plug any holes you come across.

  • I have a Mouse Situation but I also have a Amazon Parrot.... I was thinking about getting the RODAR II Ultrasonic Pest Repeller but im not sure if it will affect my Bird....

    • Hi Larry,

      It's OK birds can't hear the ultrasonic sound produced by these types of squirrel repellents. However, please check the product description and it should confirm this for you.

  • Which trap is best for lots of chipmunks? Our locale will not allow catch and release elsewhere, and there are no more cats around. Thanks!

    • If you are allowed to kill chipmunks (a few locations in Canada and the District of Columbia do not, and there are also restrictions in the UK and Ireland), then one of the best traps is a snap trap, but placement of the traps is critical.

      You won't get rid of chipmunks with just one trap. Even if you happen to put it in the right place and a chipmunk happens into it right away, you will have to remove the chipmunk, clean the trap to remove your scent, put on gloves to set it again, and wait to catch your second chipmunk. For a 1,000 square foot (approximately 100 square meter) garden space, you need at least 10 and preferably 20 traps.

      It also helps to place traps in high-traffic areas. Don't put your traps evenly spaced around the perimeter of your garden. Place traps where you have evidence of chipmunk activity, or nearest the crops you plan to protect. Use a sonic repellent unit to channel chipmunk traffic to your traps.

      If you are serious about getting rid of chipmunks for good, combine trapping with repellent methods. Coyote urine will drive chipmunks away from a small location, but you need to cover the coyote urine product with a guard to protect it from wind, sun, and rain.

      Don't waste your time trying to drown chipmunks or asphyxiate them with tear gas or auto exhaust. Their tunnels are simply too extensive for these methods to work, although you might give yourself a nasty case of pneumonitis or even kill a pet.

      And don't try getting rid of chipmunks with poison baits. They are picky eaters, and you are more likely to kill a pet than a chipmunk by putting out poison.

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