Did you ever run across a rat or a group of rats that seemed to avoid all your control attempts? They did not fall for the traps, they did not eat the poison, and they stayed just out of reach whenever you were looking for them. This leads us to the theme of the article: are Norway rats actually smart?
To be sure, there are some rats in any colony that tend to survive all but the most persistent control efforts. Rats as a whole exhibit a behavior known as neophobia, which means fear of anything new, and this behavior is an evolutionary adaptation that is present throughout the animal kingdom, including in humans. For rats in particular, this behavior is very healthy, since they have a lot of predators, and they are in the crosshairs as soon as they leave the nest to forage for food.
In order to survive, rats have to find the quickest and most effective way to travel in their environment, and balance safety with the chance of finding food. So basically, they map all of this out, and as soon as something new pops up in their environment, this new object is regarded with caution and suspicion. It takes a while for the rat to become accustomed to the change and to integrate it in its perception of its environment.
So this is how rats manage to avoid traps, at least initially. If they are not familiar with an object they will avoid it, even if it has food in it. However, the rats will go after the food, if there are no other options in their environment. One thing that is known about rats on farms is that they will not touch any new food source, because they can find and eat as much grain as they want. In the home, if you can reduce access to other food sources, and then bait your trap with some peanut butter, usually within a day or two, the rat will overcome its neophobia and get trapped.
If you are having issues with rats avoiding your traps, you might need to get some help from a pest control specialist who will go with a different placement or bait for the traps, or use poisons instead. Contact us today if you have a Norway rat infestation that seems to be unaffected by traps.