Trapping Rats With Soap – Great Barrier Island

I don’t like rats. Although they are kind of cute and not necessarily a dirty animal, they are a pest. From observation I know that they are great climbers, quite nifty and very sociable. I have started trapping them around the shower area and the chicken run. It kind of started a few months ago with me having a shower and watching one walk past. Further, whenever I left soap anywhere near the shower area, they had a solid go at it. If they love soap, why not using is at bait?

At the moment I trap about 8 rats a week. While this might sound like heaps, perhaps it doesn’t only sound like it, Great Barrier Island certainly has heaps of rats. They multiply very quickly, there is plenty to eat for them, and trustworthy and accurate research and statistics are extremely scarce. I’ve read somewhere an estimated rat population for the Island of 280000.

Well, if that were true there’d be circa 1000 rats per square kilometre. I’ve got about 360000 square meters. Between my trivial trapping and Momo’s hunting, we’ll kill more than 300-400 a year. This is using two traps and one lazy cat.

If I were to guess the rat population on the Island, my number would be around 3-5 million.

rat_trapI can think of a handful of reasons why soap is a great bait for rats. One of them being that the traps smell nice. Auckland Council provides free traps for (whoever walks in and asks for one), and at this stage I’ve got two.

While the rats that I catch are from the same species and pretty much the same size, the way they are caught in these traps is most of the times different. I feel for them a bit, this form of trapping is certainly not animal friendly. Often they are caught but not killed. The easiest way to deal with them is by submerging the entire trap into water.

I won’t dwell on it, but there are some interesting observations to be made when drowning rats. I can confirm that drowning is a peaceful way to go.

rat_trap3I’ve written about the advantages of using worms to make compost, but I will certainly get a lot more compost from all the rats I’ve been trapping.

rat_compostThis totally enclosed compost bin is dug into the ground and has a lid. I throw fish bones, rats and similar organic matter into it, and every now and then when it is full of maggots and the smell becomes nasty, I add a layer of grass clippings. Hundreds of rats have been composted this way.

Unfortunately, the positioning of this compost bin was never well thought through, it should have been right in my garden beds. I’ll reposition it before spring and fill the whole up with some dirt. Then plant pumpkins and watermelon right on top of it.

Finally, I am reminded of my chemistry teacher who always said that people read statistics of test results but never the procedures. For instance, if you do not test for heavy metals in a creek, you certainly won’t find any of it in your results and people will therefore conclude that no heavy metals are in the creek.

I say it is the same for rats. You’ll only get an idea of how many live with you when you start trapping them. Most of them will not endeavour to coming into your dwelling, there is so much to eat outside anyway. Like, for instance, soap…

4 thoughts on “Trapping Rats With Soap – Great Barrier Island”

  1. Man that’s a serious amount of rattage. I’ve had them as pets and when bred as such they are fiercely intelligent and personable creatures. In the wild they are usually fiercely intelligent and so I don’t get the soap thing. Still I expect if you put a piece of electrical flex cable in there they’d probably try and get to that too – ours never got over trying to eat cables. And yep it’s best not to have them around. I’ve seen the damage they can do. Never turn your back on a rat!

    I should also point out you’re wasting the resource though Ben. “De lil creature” is quite a regular and delicious meal in many parts of the world…..

    Paul xxxxx

    1. Well, I’ve got a gas bbq now as well, we can grill a couple on a stick for you. They do look quite good though and, you know what they say: ” You gotta be a rat to catch a rat.” The soap works wonders, every time, possibly even better than peanut butter. It is no secret, but I figured it out once my soap bars kept being eaten when I left it at the shower. Momo has been doing well, too, in terms of catching rats. I do use them for compost, so not all wasted.
      Pest-free haven for nature-lovers, that’s the Barrier for you. Full of land-based and flying rats…

  2. Yes those flying rats. I could quite fancy one or two of those barbequed on a stick. Or maybe just their breasts lightly pan fried…. I know, I know – lock me up – murderer, murderer etc – maybe even the Anti-Christ…. Oh to have been there 50 years ago when it was all fair game…..

    Paul xxxxx

    1. If I had the opportunity to go into the future or into the past, I’d take the latter. In terms of fair game, I’m sure I will live to see
      the time when people are asked to shoot these flying rats, to maintain population growth. You won’t believe the screaming-sessions here on beniSland when the Kaka do their things in the mornings. I’m used to it, but for visitors it’s like car alarms going off in the sky.

      You are the Anti-Christ!, look what are making me think now: genetically modified plum trees that produce fruit which cause pigeons eating them to go blind.

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