The humble rodent trap has become increasingly sophisticated in recent years, with Bell Labs leading the way, according to Bell’s ANZ representative Samuel Wood.

To many pest managers, rodent control is simply the application of rodenticides. Trapping is often considered too difficult and labour intensive to be viable. But the advantages of using physical methods of rodent management are numerous, particularly in the changing regulatory environment and the ever-increasing demands of commercial clients and auditors.

Break-back style traps have been around forever, but they still form an integral part of an integrated rodent management program. Selecting a non-toxic control method has obvious benefits to the environment and of course completely eliminates the risk of an accidental non-target poisoning. Additionally, carcass retrieval is much easier when you know where to look!

Trapping rodents (particularly rats), can seem daunting to professional pest managers without experience, but it needn’t be. The key is to take into account the natural neophobia – that is a fear of new objects – displayed by rats. It can take several days for rats to approach unfamiliar objects. A great tip is to install the traps unset for at least a few days to allow the rodent population to become comfortable with them prior to setting.

Traps should be secured, especially to runways above the ground

The Trapper T-Rex from Bell Labs (main picture) is designed to have a similar visual profile when unset as when set, to prevent a neophobic reaction from rats when set. It is vital to ensure that traps are installed on commonly used runways and in areas of high activity. The inspection must be thorough to identify these areas. Look for footprints and rub marks as indicators and remember to always think three dimensionally in your inspection – look up, down and all around. Rodent footprints can often be found on pipes and steelwork at height. These are great locations to install traps. The Trapper T-Rex is designed specifically to allow it to be cable tied into such positions.

Footprints are great indicators of pathways used by rodents, which are the ideal place to install traps

For commercial situations, it’s sensible to consider placing traps inside stations. As well as preventing non-target capture, this can help to prevent accidental triggering of the trap. The Bell Labs’ EVO Ambush, EVO Circuit, EVO Landscape and Protecta Sidekick all accommodate break-back traps and are ideal for these applications. When not using stations, place traps with the jaws tightly against a wall, where runways are typically located.

As with all pest management products, it is important to select high quality equipment. A good quality break-back trap kills quickly and humanely and has exceptional holding power. Presently there are no Australian standards for break-back traps, but other countries are introducing legislation that requires these traps to meet certain specifications. Most locally to us is the National Animal Welfare Advisory Commission (NAWAC) in New Zealand, which imposes some of the strictest animal welfare requirements worldwide. The Trapper T-Rex has recently been independently tested and has met the NAWAC guidelines for welfare performance.

More information on the control of rats and mice.

Samuel Wood, Bell Technical Services Representative ANZ