How do you outsmart a smart rat? Do rats learn to avoid traps? Can rats escape from traps? What bait can rats not resist?

Paper origami of rats for Happy Chinese new year, red background, panorama, copy space

Rats are notorious for their keen intelligence and innate ability to evade traditional pest control methods. As such, if you have found yourself dealing with a rat infestation—or suspect you may have one—you may be wondering how you can outsmart these clever rodents. 

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at rats, talk about whether or not they are indeed as clever as people say, and share a few strategies that may be able to help you outwit them. 

Whether you’re dealing with a rodent infestation or you’re simply curious to learn more about these scuttling scoundrels, then this is the article for you. 

Let’s jump right in! 

Are Rats Intelligent?

So, are rats really all that intelligent? Or is just a “relatively speaking” kind of thing? Here’s what you need to know: 

  • Yes, rats are very intelligent creatures with excellent problem-solving skills and adaptability.
  • What’s worse, is that they can learn from previous experiences, remember complex routes, and they also exhibit social behaviours.
  • Rats possess an innate sense of caution, which can make them challenging to trap or control.

While we certainly won’t be hearing about any rats joining Mensa International any time soon, as far as common household pests go, rats are undoubtedly the most intelligent.

How Do You Outsmart a Smart Rat?

OK, now that we have established that rats are indeed rather clever, how does one go about outsmarting them? 

  • The key to outsmarting a rat is to understand rat behaviour and preferences. Rats are nocturnal, cautious, and prefer to stick to familiar paths and hiding spots. 
  • You can consider using a variety of trapping methods in order to increase the chances of success.
  • You can also combine trapping with preventive measures to eliminate food sources, secure entry points, and reduce their habitat.

As Sun Tzu once said in his acclaimed book, the Art of War: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Do Rats Learn to Avoid Traps?

If you are thinking about setting some rats traps at home, you’ll likely be wondering just how effective they are. For example, do rats learn to avoid traps? 

  • Rats can indeed learn to associate traps with danger if they have encountered them before.
  • They may exhibit neophobic behaviour, being cautious of new foods, objects, or changes in their environment.
  • However, rats can still be trapped successfully by using a combination of different types of traps or introducing new traps strategically.

House rat trapped inside the metal mesh rat trap cage.

Can Rats Escape from Traps? What Are the Most Effective Rat Traps?

Even if you do manage to snatch a rat in one of your traps, how likely are they to escape? Are all traps effective? 

  • Rats are incredibly agile creatures and can sometimes escape from poorly set or ineffective traps.
  • Snap traps, electronic traps, and live traps are commonly used for rat pest control.
  • Snap traps with a powerful spring mechanism are generally effective if properly set and placed along rat runways or near their nesting areas.
  • Electronic traps deliver a lethal electric shock to the rat, ensuring a quick and humane kill – these are arguably the most effective.
  • Live traps allow for catch-and-release, but they require careful handling and relocation – as rats will bite when cornered and are known to carry diseases

What Bait Can Rats Not Resist?

If you are thinking about setting some traps and baits by yourself, here are some effective baits they find irresistible: 

  • Rats have a keen sense of smell and are attracted to strong food odours.
  • Some effective bait options for rats include: 
  • Peanut butter.
  • Bacon (you’d catch me with bacon as well to be fair).
  • Dried fruit.
  • Nuts.
  • Pet food.
  • Experiment with different baits to see what works best in your specific situation.
  • Secure the bait to the trap to prevent rats from easily stealing it without triggering the trap.

selective focus of small rat near exterminator holding toxic equipment

Is It Better to DIY a Rat Infestation or Call for Professional Pest Control Services?

Finally, is it worth trying to get rid of your rat infestation by yourself, or should you just be done with it and call in the professionals? 

  • Certain DIY methods can be effective for small infestations, or if you’re confident in your ability to handle the problem / feeling lucky! 
  • However, larger or persistent infestations, or those in complex environments, may require professional assistance.
  • Pest control professionals have the knowledge, experience, and (more importantly) access to more advanced methods and products to tackle challenging rat infestations – they can also provide guidance on preventive measures to avoid future infestations as well.
  • If you suffer from seasonal allergies or have small children you wish to protect, we strongly advise avoiding DIY methods and calling the pros. 

We understand the temptation to try and deal with a rat problem by yourself in order to save money, however, in most cases, it is generally advised that you seek out professional assistance as rats can be incredibly difficult to get rid of without sufficient experience.


Let’s have a quick recap of what we’ve learned in this blog post: 

  • Outsmarting smart rats requires a clever combination of knowledge, strategy, and persistence. 
  • Rats are very intelligent and can learn to avoid traps; however, with the right approach, you may be able to effectively control their population by yourself. 
  • Choose traps that are suitable for your situation (e.g., avoid poison traps if you have pets and small children), use irresistible bait, and implement preventive measures to deter rats from returning. 
  • If the infestation proves difficult to handle, or if you would much prefer expert assistance, do not hesitate to call professional pest control services. You may want to consult a company such as Pest Control Brisbane .com as they come highly recommended for rodent control! 

By taking proactive steps, you can regain control of your home and protect it from these clever little rodents. Cute as they may be, they can be very dangerous and pose a number of health risks – not to mention damage to your property. 

Ge them gone!

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