Best Rat Bait: The Right Way To Lure In Pesky Rodents

While mice can be a problem, rats are the stuff of nightmares. Many people are on a seemingly neverending search for the best rat bait. Whether you’re opting for a rat-proof garden or want to keep rodents out of your home, it’s a constant need.

It’s not an easy process to pick the right one. It depends in part on the type of rat, and in part on what other methods you’re using. Most people use baits in conjunction with rat traps. Depending on the type of trap, different baits may be needed.

Let’s cut through the mystique of this rodent-removal option. We’ll discuss what types of bait there are. While I’m not going to go deep into the types of traps here, the bait is what lures them in. So let’s figure out what the best rat bait for your needs will be!

Best Rat Bait By Type:

Good Bait Stations:

What Makes Rat Bait Effective?

Best rat bait
Rats like this roof rat can be a major problem in the home. Source: Brad Smith

On their own, rat baits are only a partial solution to a greater problem.

The best rat bait can kill a rat, sure, but it may take time to do it. All baits rely on the rat eating them. If too little’s consumed, the bait may not be effective on its own.

Bait can also be used to entice a rodent into a trap. Whether you opt for humane traps or deadly ones, traps tend to be more effective overall than the bait alone.

So there’s two things which make the bait effective: attractiveness and utility.

If your goal is to lure rats into a trap, commercial baits may not be as efficient as bits of food. Things which are easily identified by the rat as food will draw them in, making it easier to trap them.

For standalone bait, it needs to draw the rat’s interest while also poisoning them. That’s more complex, and may require a bit of creativity in use.

Different Rat Types, Different Baits

Norway rat
Most rats will eat seeds, nuts, and fruit, but some prefer protein. Source: M.P.N.texan

The type of rat you’re dealing with will also come into play. Different rats like different bait types.

In the United States, there are two types of common rats.

Norway rats, sometimes called sewer rats or brown rats, tend to be ground-dwellers. These are large rats, often grey or grey-brown in coloration, which are common in gardens and yards. They may also take shelter in building foundations or the lower part of walls.

Roof rats are the other variety most commonly found. These tend to prefer the advantages of living at a height, and dwell in trees in the wild. Attics, the upper portions of walls, tops of cabinetry, and the like are common places. They are smaller in size than Norway rats and often like warmer climates. These are sometimes called black rats.

With Norway rats, meats are surprisingly common as bait materials. A scrap of bacon or slice of sausage provides a protein-packed punch that they enjoy. They’re not picky, and will accept human food readily.

Roof rats tend to prefer foods which they’d find in the wild. Berries or fruit, snails or worms, and nuts are useful as lures. Things which mimic natural food sources for them are best.

Determining the type of rat may have an impact on your eventual bait type. After all, you can set out a bait intended to catch one type, but if you have the other, it may not work!

Types of Rat Bait

Outdoor rat bait station
This professional rat bait station is alongside an urban hiking trail. Source: Elaine with Grey Cats

Finding the best rat bait can be complex. There’s many different forms in which rat baits are sold. Between bricks or cubes, gels or pellets, it can be baffling. So let’s go over the pros and cons of each type and find out what will be best for you.

Blocks and Bars

Pressed into a block or a bar, these baits often include potent anticoagulants. These anticoagulants cause internal bleeding, which results in the rodent’s demise.

The biggest problem with this type of bait is that the blocks or bars often have an appealing scent. Yes, that makes them effective, especially as it’s food scents that the rats like! But the drawback is that it may also be appealing to your pet dog or child.

With this sort of bait, you will need to seal off or remove any other sources of food before use. It may take more than one nibble for this poison to take effect. Having any other potential food around will counteract the bait’s use.

Pelletized Bait

Like a block or bar bait, pelletized baits often have anticoagulants. These smaller-sized pieces remove the need of cutting or breaking bars. They’re much easier to place.

These are best if you have a mouse problem as well as a rat problem. The smaller size makes it accessible to little rodents as well as large ones.

While these aren’t food-scented, they still seem to draw the rats in. To get the right dosage, they’ll need to eat more than one pellet. They’re still effective and useful.

Gel Bait

Gel baits are easily dispensed from a bottle or tube, and less likely to attract pets as if they were a treat. However, these sticky gels tend to be optimized to one type of rat or the other, not both.

With a gel bait, again clear any potential food sources out of the area so the rats can be lured in. They’re best when used in conjunction with a rat trap.

Some gel baits include a rodenticide, others are poison-free. I’ve found that the poison-free ones seem to work the best for trapping. These gel baits are also referred to as attractants.

Other Baits

The most effective baits are things which rodents will already eat… and that means food!

Norway rats tend to be protein and fat-loving creatures. They will accept baits made of meat products as readily as those made with nuts or sweet ones. Good baits for these rats include bits of bacon or chocolate, dried fruit, peanut butter, or soft candy.

By contrast, roof rats often are mostly vegetarian. Our meat scraps won’t lure them, but peanut butter, nuts or dried fruit certainly do. If you have snail shells, those can also draw them in as that’s one of the few animal products they’ll eat.

I find that peanut butter or dried apple slices work best as bait. But remember, your food scraps are not poisoned. These have to be paired with the use of a rat trap. And these other baits are likely to attract squirrels, chipmunks, or other creatures as well.

Is It Safe To Use Rat Bait Around My Pets?

Homemade bait station
A bait station like this homemade version may keep your pets away from the bait. Source: quillshadow

The short answer to this is unfortunately no, at least if you’re using poisoned baits. Non-poisoned rat baits are much safer.

There’s a few different chemical types which are used in rat baits. The majority of those on the market in the United States are anti-coagulant baits. These cause internal bleeding and other issues.

Even if your pet does not directly eat the poison, they might be tempted to eat a dead rat if they find it. And that poses a distinct risk, as the dead rat is now poisoned as well.

If you have pets or small children, it’s much safer to use non-poisoned baits in conjunction with traps. This ensures that even if your child or pet touches or eats the bait, they should be okay.

In some cases, out-of-reach baits on high shelves may be an option. This is especially true for black rats, since they like heights. Those should be safer to use with dogs or small children. Cats may still be able to get to them.

If your children or pets ever eat a poisoned bait or a dead rat that’s eaten the bait, it’s an emergency. Immediately contact your doctor’s office or veterinary hospital, and let them know the poison brand you use. Most of the anticoagulants can be reversed with prescription strength Vitamin K.

Do you have rabbits or hamsters as pets? If so, avoid poisoned baits entirely. These pets are small enough that rat bait is very dangerous to them, and they may suffer extreme symptoms before you can get them to the vet.

No matter if it’s roach bait, mouse bait, or rat bait, these poisoned baits are not without dangers. Be mindful of your placement!

How To Use Rat Bait

Roof rat
Use a bait that’s enticing and that the rat is tempted to eat! Source: Vermin Inc

Using rat bait is going to vary depending on the form of bait which you’re using. It’s always best to use bait in conjunction with a rat or mouse trap. That way, you don’t end up with decomposing rats in unusual places!

I’ve discussed at length the various types of mouse traps before, and rat traps are very similar. There are humane traps which imprison the living rat. Snap traps will catch the rodent, crushing some bones in the process. Electronic traps deliver a shock to the rat, killing it fast and without lingering pain.

Each type of trap needs to have its bait placed in a different fashion. I find that the most effective rat baits appeal to the rat’s hunger in a way which entices them into the trap.

Before you can trap them, you’ll need to familiarize your local rodents with where the food can be found. I recommend setting up but not activating the trap for a period of time first. Bait it, but don’t set it to go off when entered. You may also wish to place bait just outside the trap entrance to draw them in.

Naturally skittish creatures, rats will run away if something scares them. If they become familiarized with the trap as a non-harmful thing, they’ll be more likely to walk in.

When using a brick or bar bait, you may need to break it into smaller segments. Do this while wearing a pair of disposable gloves so you don’t come in contact with the poison. Be sure to clean up any residue that results from cutting the brick or bar.

With pelletized baits, your biggest difficulty is that they are cylindrical. If you’re using a snap trap, they’ll roll right off the activation plate. I like to use a dab of peanut butter to stick the pellet in place.

Gel baits are very easy to apply. Squeeze the tube, and the gel comes right out! They may not work on all rats, but those who do take the bait also seem to tell their friends.

If you’re opting for normal human food, whether fruits or nuts or bacon bits, it can be easier. The smear of peanut butter may still help you to “glue” your bait to the activation point of the trap.

Place your baited traps in areas where you have seen rat droppings. This is usually a good sign that it’s a commonly-used rat travel zone. Placing your traps in active locations gives the highest chance of catching them.

Finally, leave the bait and traps alone during the hours when the rats are most active. For most people, this will be easy. Many rats tend towards nocturnal behavior for their safety.

If you’re using a humane trap, check it every couple days, and avoid poisoned baits. Remember that releasing them back in the wild must be done in an area where it’s permissible.

With zap traps or snap traps, you may want to check daily, but can wait for up to a couple days. Some traps are obviously triggered, where others can be more difficult to check. Be cautious while checking your trap. Rats that are still alive may bite!

Reviews Of The Best Rat Bait Types

Every trap and every person’s needs will vary, which makes a list of this sort complex. Because of this, I chose common and effective options which are a good overall example of their type.

In the end, there may be no “perfect” rat bait choice for all rats in all situations. But I hope that the following list will help you make the best choice for your specific needs!

Best Block Rat Bait

JT Eaton 709-PN Bait Block Rodenticide Anticoagulant Bait

Another anticoagulant bait, JT Eaton’s baits use a different chemical than Tomcat. It produces the same net effect.

This dry bait is pressed together using wax as a filling agent. The wax is often scented, with peanut butter or apple being the most popular varieties. That scent lures the rodents in.

Once hooked, it takes very little of this poison to do its job. While it’s still best to trap while using a bait like this, it works with or without the trap. The rat won’tJust One Bite II Bars 16 Ounce know what hit it!

If you’re not sure which type of rats you’re dealing with, opt for the peanut butter flavor. People who have roof rats for certain will have good effect with the apple. Peanut butter works for both.

See Prices >

Best Bar Rat Bait

Just One Bite II Bars 16 Ounce

Just One Bite’s name implies that it’s as simple as getting the rat to take a single bite. In reality, it might take two or three nibbles for a rat, maybe one for a mouse. One of the strongest poison doses on the market, it’s incredibly effective.

The drawbacks of a bar poison usually arise in breaking it apart, and this one’s no different in that. The bar is a one-pound bar that’s indented at the break points. It’s a little tough to break, despite the indenting. As it’s potent poison, wear gloves and a mask when breaking it.

But despite that issue, it tends to be extremely effective. It has a peanut butter aroma, making it a draw for most rat species. Due to its potency, I recommend using this one only inside an enclosed trap. Don’t leave it anywhere the pets can get at it.

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Best Pellet Rat Bait

Motomco 008-32345 Tomcat Rat And Mouse Bait Pellet

Motomco 008-32345 Tomcat Rat and Mouse Bait Pellet, 10 lb
  • Kills Norway rats roof rats and house mice
  • Economical control
  • Multiple feed

With some forms of poison, a low dosage is best. This keeps your rats coming back time and again to eat the bait. It also means they’ll take it home and feed it to their young, eliminating the whole rat nest.

And that’s how Tomcat works. This pelletized bait is appetizing to rats, mice, and most other small rodents. In fact, many users warn that if the scent of the bait’s on the outside of the bucket, rodents chew their way into it!

It is an anticoagulant poison that is administered with each pellet eaten. This thins the rat’s blood out gradually. In time, any slight bump or bruise will turn into a potential internal bleeding situation. The rat will never suspect the bait.

The manufacturers claim that it works on both Norway and roof rats. I’ve heard no reports to the contrary, and in my experience it works well on the rodents I’ve dealt with. It’s also effective when blended with normal food baits.

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Best Gel Rat Bait

Bell Labs Provoke Professional Rat Attractant

Bell Labs Provoke Professional Rat Attractant
  • Special formulation for Rats
  • Completely non toxic

Provoke is a poison-free rat bait, so you definitely need to use a trap with it. Having said that, if you want to go with an option that’s really easy to apply, you can’t beat this stuff.

Formulated to provide a mix of scents that appeal to both Norway rats and roof rats, this gel bait is easy to store. Keep it tucked away in your toolbox until you need it.

One of the best perks about Provoke is that because it’s completely nontoxic, it’s safe around pets. If you opt for a trap that requires the rat to enter, you’ll never have an issue. Just be wary of using snap traps around your pets – the last thing you want is your dog’s tongue getting stuck in a trap!

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Rat Bait Stations

Rat Bait Station 2 Pack – Rodent Bait Station with Key

Rat Bait Station 2 Pack - Rodent Bait Station with Key Eliminates Rats Fast. Keeps Children and Pets...
  • Redtop - Tamper resistant- dedicated double key...
  • Easy Installation - Rods Inculded Durable design...
  • Pet Friendly - Lock-able station is safe for pets...

When you’re using rat bait, as I’ve said throughout this piece, you should pair it with a rat trap. This bait station is just the thing. The entire top comes off to allow you to put poisoned bait inside. A key prevents the top from being removed by kids or pets.

While this trap will not kill the rodents directly, it does other important tasks. It keeps the baits protected from the elements so they won’t dissolve in the rain. It provides a place for the rat to die, making carcass disposal easy. And, of course, it keeps your children and pets from harm’s way.

This particular design can be used with any bait type, but for efficacy you will need poisoned bait. Otherwise, you’re setting up a rat feeding station!

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Tomcat Rat and Mouse Killer Child and Dog Resistant Refillable Station

Tomcat Rat & Mouse Killer Refillable Bait Station - Child and Dog Resistant (1 Station, with 15...
  • Effectively kills rats and mice while protecting...
  • Each bait block kills up to 3 rats (based on...
  • Weather and tamper proof from any child or dog in...

Made for use with Tomcat’s bait blocks, this bait station does much the same as the other type I described. However, it does not have a locking top. Instead, there is a window in the top which makes it easy to check and see if your bait’s been nibbled on.

This can be used with other forms of bait as well, but works best with a block-type bait. Bars are a little more difficult to break to size, and most gels are attractants rather than poisons.

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In the end, the best rat bait really depends on the rats you’re dealing with. But I hope I’ve given you a few solutions that will help you to solve your rodent-reduction needs! If you know of other options that’ve worked for you, feel free to share them. I’d love to hear!

The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

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Last update on 2020-01-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API