How to Trap a Pack Rat

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Things You'll Need

  • Wooden rat-size snap traps

  • Bait

Pack rats build nests in walls and dark areas of buildings.

A pack rat is a name commonly applied to the wood rat for its habit of packing items away in a stick nest. Pack rats build nests in and under dark areas of houses and outbuildings. Pack rats will damage food supplies for humans and livestock, chew wiring in cars and houses and spread botulism and salmonella through their feces. Their fleas have been known to carry bubonic plague. The use of wooden, rat-size snap traps baited with a mixture of peanut butter and oatmeal is effective in catching them.


Step 1

Locate where pack rats are moving in a house or outbuilding. Cracks in walls, basements or vent holes in foundations will allow them entry. Listen for their scratching inside walls and look for feces and nests built in dark corners.

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Step 2

Push a marble-size ball of oatmeal mixed with peanut butter onto the bait pan of the wooden snap trap. Mash it into the cutout on the pan so it will stay in place. Do this before setting the trap.


Step 3

Position the trap in your hands by holding the wooden base so the bait pan is opposite you and the wire trigger is toward you. Flip the trigger wire back off the trap and let it hang off the base. You'll find the unset square jaw down on the bait pan side of the base.

Step 4

Pull the square jaw toward you all the way back and down to the base. Hold the jaw down with your left thumb at the base corner. Flip the wire trigger up over the jaw with your other hand; slip the bent end of the trigger wire under the metal extension on the side of the bait pan. Hold the pan up with the trigger wire and slowly release your hold on the jaw, letting the tension of the jaw against the trigger wire hold the trap set.


Step 5

Place the trap on the ground or floor against a wall so the animal cannot walk over the trap to reach the bait. The bait end of the trap must be kept unobstructed to give the pack rat easy access to the bait. When the rat goes for the bait, the pan will release, bringing the jaw down on the rat and killing it instantly.


Pack rats are active at night and will make a good deal of scratching sounds as they move about in a house, especially if they are in the walls. Follow the moving sounds of the pack rat to locate where it is coming in from, or its nest. Set several traps throughout the area where the pack rat is moving; this will improve your chances for a catch. Your chances also will increase if there is more than one pack rat. Wooden rat traps can be purchased in hardware stores.


Never put your fingers on the bait pan side of the trap once it is set in case it accidentally snaps. Hold the trap by the edges of the base on the side opposite the bait pan. Do not attempt to bait the trap when it is set. Set the traps in areas where children and pets cannot reach them. Wear gloves when handling the dead pack rat as protection from any disease or fleas that may be on it.


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