What are my options for trapping rodents on my farm?
Answer: Trapping is an effective method of control for small areas or light infestations. Snap traps are very effective, inexpensive, and may require more labor, but are considered to be more humane because they generally kill the rodent instantly. Baiting the traps with peanut butter, dried fruit or nuts, or dried pet food may be necessary to lure the rodent to the traps. It’s good practice to tie the traps down (using twine, tying to a nearby pipe or beam, which will prevent too much movement of the trap) because you don’t want a wounded rodent dragging a trap to areas that you can’t access. Voles seldom wander from their runways and paths, so setting traps without bait at right angles in front of burrow entrances and paths can be effective. Norway rats travel along edges of buildings or against walls, so place the triggers against the walls and at entrances to a structure, where the rodent is forced through a narrow opening. Roof rats travel up beams, rafters, trees, and ledges, where traps can be fastened securely. If using snap traps outside, a trapping box may be necessary to protect non-target wildlife, pets, and children. Check traps daily to remove dead rodents and reset sprung traps quickly to prevent trap and bait shyness. Use gloves or plastic bags to remove dead rodents because they may carry diseases.
Glue boards work like flypaper, trapping the rodent as it attempts to cross the board. With these types of traps, the rodent may not die quickly and you may need to kill it. Glue boards also lose their effectiveness in areas with high dust, debris, and temperatures.
Electronic traps kill rats by electrocuting them with high-power batteries. They catch one rat at a time and are expensive compared to snap traps. The traps are convenient in some situations, especially with individuals who are squeamish about cleaning snap traps for reuse. The electrocuted rat slides out of the trap with minimal handling when the trap is emptied. Live traps may be used but are not recommended because the rodents will have to be killed or released elsewhere. Releasing rodents to other areas may be illegal and will just transfer the problem to other areas. Releasing to wild areas will be disruptive to the natural ecosystem, and rats, especially, are known to decimate bird and reptile populations.
The new ATTRA publication Rats, Mice, and Voles: Vertebrate IPM Tip Sheet will be a beneficial read for you. This publication discusses ways to identify which rodent may be causing damage on your property and outlines several control strategies.