Rodent Trapping

f_durancm at f_durancm at
Wed Apr 27 15:08:18 EST 1994

In article <2pbvbg$hdr at>, jessie at writes:
> In article <1994Apr23.123905.1 at topaz> fergusma at writes:
>>Greetings field workers.
>>I am seeking information from anyone who has had experience with trapping small
>>rodents, prefferably murids.
>>I have attempted several nights of trapping using 30x10x10 Elliot traps, with
>>a rolled oats, peanut butter, honey and vanilla essence mix as bait, with traps
>>on an index line 7m apart.

> Brent Danielson
> jessie at writes:

> Some species are a lot more trap shy than others.  You don't say what you're
> trapping, but it may be such a species.  I also don't know what an elliot tra`
> is, but can the animal see through it (open doors at both ends).  Some species
> are more likely to enter such a trap.
> Bait wise, try a sliver of apple.  I never use peanut butter as it isexpensi`
> gums up the trap, and is generally a real pain to use.  Crimped or whole oats
> works well in many cases.


I don't know what an Elliot trap is either, but it is just a little bigger than
a Sherman livetrap, so shouldn't exclude the larger murids.  Make sure the 
trigger is sensitive enough to catch the smaller ones.

In my experience North American small mammals (including the three murids) 
rolled oats and peanut butter is generally a VERY effective bait. I've never 
heard of using vanilla extract, however,  and the honey will make the mixture
unnecessarily difficult to handle. I would drop both of these ingredients.
Sliced apples is also a very effective bait, but in my experience the peanut
butter mixture is better though admittedly more expensive and a little more
difficult to handle.  I have never found "dry" baits--whole grains or 
mixtures called "chicken scratch"-- to be very effective.   

>>So far I have had no success.  I know that rats are scarce in this area
>>(Central Queensland) and I am interested to hear from anyone with similar
>>Meryl F.
>>Bachelor Applied Biology (Honours)
>>University Central Queensland

If you know that rats are scarce, the FIRST thing I would do is to increase
the trap spacing.  Seven meters is close spacing even when trapping a dense
population.  I don't know what type of study you are doing, but 15 m is 
usually sufficiently close for any type of work.  If you are merely censusing
or surveying the animals, you might consider very wide, say 30-40 m spacing. 
> I suspect, however, that you set the traps immediately.  Try baiting them and 
> locking them open for a period of 1-2 weeks.  Let the animals acclimate to 
> the traps presence.

I agree. Prebaiting increases initial trap response, cuts down on man-hours,
and helps data fit regression models.

> Finally, there are good and bad ways to position a trap.  Again, it is often
> species specific, but all the murids that I'm familiar with are essestially 
> thigmotactic  (that is they like to be next to structure).  Thus, put the trap 
> against a log, rock, grass clump, whatever.  Try to position the door away from 
> any open area and if it can be overhung with grass, shrub limbs, etc. so much
> the better.
> Brent Danielson
> jessie at

Yes, and if possible try to set the trap on level ground or so that it does 
not rock back and forth when the animal steps on it.  Position in runways
if you can see them.

Mike Duran; Stephen F. Austin State U.; Dept. of Biology
Nacogdoches, TX; 75962; (409)568-2322; f_durancm at

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