How to Catch a Smart Rat?

The woes of having a rat (or pack of rats) in your house can’t be put in words, “frustrating” or “embarrassing” just doesn’t seem to cut it.

These intelligent and notorious creatures are hard to trap and can get through everything you own – paper, wood, food, clothes, and even plastics! It can take ages to detect a rat and eventually trap them. 

But, alas, learning how to catch a smart rat can be done. We’ll explain everything you need to know below!

Rats Are Smart And Can Be Hard To Catch 

Let’s face it – it’s not easy to get rats out of the house because they do not fall into the usual baits. Rats are extremely smart rodents with a great sense of smell, taste, sound and touch. They traverse on their path carefully and quickly learn the new tricks of the trade as they go (the trade being survival). 

Some studies have even stated that the cognitive learning ability of rats is better than humans. Their neophobia trait, i.e. the fear of new things, helps them survive in the world better than many species.

Their experiences help them escape in the least time using the shortest route available. So if you always have trouble catching them in deed, it’s because of this behavior. 

Rats are smart and that is why they will never venture into an open territory. You won’t find them wandering into any place with food or trap like mice. They will know if they find something new placed in a familiar environment. So if you place a trap, they will find it to be suspicious and not go near it. They even test food before consuming it at one go. 

Two Of The Most Common Smart Rats

It is a good idea to understand rat type and their behavior before throwing in the rat trap with a piece of cheese or bread. Depending on where you live, there are two main species you may encounter:

Roof Rats

Known as roof rats, these are the sort that you’d usually spot them on the roof, your attic or the trees. They are black or brown in color with big ears and a long tail that’s bigger than their body. Known to be fussy eaters, they mostly enjoy eating grains, nuts and dried fruits. 

Sewer Rats

Found in the sewer or basement area, sewer rats (also called Norway rats) will have slightly shorter tails than their brown body. They are flexible in their eating habits and will have anything ranging from raw meat to vegetables. 

Using Traps To Catch Smart Rats 

If the rats you are dealing with are indeed smart, which they tend to be, you have to be smarter. Rat traps may have not worked out for you before, but with the right technique, they will. 

Make the trap a familiar place for the rat 

The idea is to make rat trap a safe place. Keep several unarmed rat traps in the house so that it becomes a familiar place for it to go in and eat.

Place food in and around the trap and condition the rat to consider it harmless for a day or two before you finally go about to catch him red handed. Certain rat colonies use the test-and-attack technique.

A small and naïve rat is sent to test the food. If nothing happens to the rat then the rest of the clan will go and have it. 

Remove all sources of food and water 

Rats will not move to an unfamiliar place if they have sufficient food and water at their disposal. If you eliminate food from their usual place of access, they will be compelled to move to a different place.

While mice don’t require an open source of water, rats will! So how about placing the trap near the sink pipe? This is especially effective in case of water so keep liquid bait ready for the smart rat in your home. 

It Takes Proper Bait To Catch A Smart Rat 

If you aren’t aware, there are certain foods that are proven to help trap rats better than others. Here are some of the most popular ones that you can pick up at any grocery store, probably even in your own kitchen cabinets: 


Conventional but effective, strong smelling cheese always attracts rats. Add in a cracker with some butter on it and it will work like magic. But remember to avoid it in case of a roof rat. They prefer vegetables over cheese. 

Peanut butter

Who can resist peanut butter? Much like humans, rats find a thicker, creamier and crunchier version better than the regular one. Furthermore, peanut butter is one of the easiest foods to cover poison bait with.


A piece of chicken salami, fish or any cured meat can be a good bait to trap a sewer rat or sometimes even a roof rat. Keep using it as bait for two days before you finally catch hold of the mister. Scraps from dinner are perfect when it comes to meat for rat bait.

Dried fruits and nuts

The world knows that rats love nuts and dried fruits. A plain bag of trail-mix from Walmart or Amazon will get the job done. Just sprinkle a little bit of these goodies with poison or set it out with traps.

Maple syrup, chocolates or anything sweet

Rats have a sweet tooth so they will be attracted to sweet smells, syrups, chocolates, jam, candies and even sugary cereals. Like with peanut butter, syrups, and sweets, are easy to add to pre-existing rat baits and poisons. 

Fresh vegetables

If you have a roof rat in your house, it’s best to offer them fresh vegetables and fruits and place them in idyllic locations like the attic, roof, and crawl spaces. If they happen to have a bit of poison powder, baits, or a steel trap mixed in with them… well… you get the picture!

Tips and Tricks for Catching Smart Rats 

Catching hold of a rat may at times require you to think like a professional. Just like you’d do in business, research well about the rat that is creating havoc, analyze and act strategically. 

So what else can you do to catch that smart rat? 

Use tracking powders

Track the rat down. Before starting off with any bait, it’s wise to monitor the rat’s activity. Tracking powders are easily available at stores and are labeled for using for rat tracking. Pour it out in suspected areas or burrow openings to strategically monitor your home wrecker’s activity. 

Try video recording

Cameras can be installed in areas where you suspect the rat to be. Make that the camera comes with wide angle lenses and low lighting option. Recording on a camera will give you an idea about the rat’s behavior and help you know where to place the rat trap. 

Trial and error

It is possible that even after all your efforts, you are unable to get hold of the rat. Now is the time to analyze your work. Try changing the location of your traps (or bait), maybe it was never even noticed. Place it against furniture, walls or areas out of sight. 

Believe it or not, Installing a sharpshooter can also help track the rat and is said to be one of the most economical approaches. 

Final Thoughts 

It may take more time than you expected to catch a smart rat, but you have to be patient and keep at it. A young rat, smart as they are, may take days to catch. On the other hand, it can take weeks to trap an older and wiser rat. 

Studying up on all of the various methods of capturing, preventing, and deterring rats will greatly increase your chances at eventually out-besting even the smartest rats. Keep your trap tricks up and you will be good to go!