Here are the best rat traps that work and will have you clearing out your infestation FAST!
Snap traps are the most practical option due to their low cost which lets you affordably place and set many traps at once. However, snap traps are a little hard to use and some folks prefer other options.
Let me walk you through a few different options that all work just fine.
Classic Snap Rat Traps
The most common type of rat trap is the classic snap trap made by Victor. The trap is so popular because it is cheap and effective. Victor makes two versions of their classic trap; Standard and Professional.
You set the Standard trap by setting the trigger on the side of the bait pad.
You set the Professional trap by setting the trigger under the bait pad.
Most professional rat exterminators use Victor Professional Rat Traps.
The larger bait pad on the Professional trap increases the probability that a rat will trigger the trap. The bait pad is also pre-scented with a cheese flavoring so baiting is not required.
I still put a little peanut butter on the pad for good luck.
The Professional rat trap can also be set to have different sensitivity.
If you place the trigger bar on the left side of the bait pad towards the “F” then the trigger is set to “Firm”. This means that the trap is easier for you to set but harder for the rat to trigger.
If you place the trigger bar on the right side of the bait pad towards the “S” then the trigger is set to “Sensitive”. This means that the trap is harder for you to set but easier for the rat to trigger.
In my opinion the Professional is a much better option than the Standard and it only costs about a dollar more.
Here is a video showing how I set a Professional rat trap and it’s striking power.
By the way, we are talking about rat traps here, not mice traps. Do not try using mouse traps to catch a rat. All you will do is annoy the rat and waste your time.
If you are dealing with rats in your attic then the Victor Professional Rat Traps are your most effective and cost efficient option.
Here is the link to get a 9 pack of Victor Professional Rat Traps
Easy Set Snap Traps
The downside of the Professional rat trap is that it can be intimidating for new users.
These traps have an incredible striking force and you can hurt yourself pretty bad if you are not being careful.
If you want a safer option that is still effective then you can spend about $5 per trap and get an easy set snap trap from Tomcat.
You bait a Tomcat rat trap by flipping it over, removing the bait well and adding some peanut butter.
Flip it over and unscrew the bait well.
Put some peanut butter in the bait well, screw it back in and set the trap!
I shot this little video to show you how incredibly easy it is to set a Tomcat trap. It literally just takes a push and it is hard to accidentally set these off.
The Tomcat rat traps have plenty of striking force and easily kill rats.
Victor also makes an easy set trap.
The Victor easy set trap is not as easy to use as the Tomcat and is also a little under powered.
If you want an easy to use trap that is effective at killing rats then the Tomcat Easy Set Rat Trap is your best choice.
Here is the link to buy a 2 pack of Tomcat Rat Traps.
Do NOT use snap traps in areas where they could be accidentally triggered by pets or children!!!
An electric trap is a nice idea if you have a stray rat or two running around or if you don’t want to deal with the mangled corpse that result from using snap traps.
It is pretty easy to use an electric rat trap. Add some bait to the back of the trap, install the batteries and turn it on.
When a rat enters the trap it will step on two metal pads. The rat’s feet will complete an electrical circuit resulting in a large surge of electricity going through its body.
An electric trap will kill a rat instantly.
These traps work GREAT and it is nice to not have to handle the dead rat.
After the trap has killed a rat you can pick up the trap, carry it to the trash can and slide the dead critter into the trash. Pretty slick.
Even though the packaging says you can 50+ rats with this in reality you are only going to kill one or two per day.
A single electric trap will cost about $40. You can get one here.
If you need to kill a lot of rats fast then you need to buy the four pack.
Update 10/18/2026: I have done some more research on these and while I like the Victor product I think there are better options available. Here are my thoughts about the Best Electric Rat Zapper.
Do NOT use an electric rat trap in a location where a pet or child could activate the electric circuit!
One way to safely catch rats in an area that is accessible to pets and children is with a Havahart live trap. There are many models of this basic live trap available but this one specifically made for small rodents.
It is easy to set a Havahart trap and there is no danger to your pets if they enter the trap.
Once you catch a rat in a live trap you will need to figure out what you want to do with it. Some states have laws that require you to kill any trapped nuisance rodents. If you do decide to release the rat then do so as far away from your home (and those of others) as practical.
Here is a video showing the Havaheart trap being triggered.
Here is a link to buy a Havahart Easy Set Trap for Rats
I am including glue boards only for the sake of completion.
Do NOT use glue boards.
When they work glue boards are incredibly inhumane and cause extreme suffering.
In addition, glue boards will typically only “work” for small rats.
The Best Bait
The best bait is peanut butter.
Peanut butter is the best bait because:
- It has a strong smell making it easy to find.
- It sticks onto the trap making it impossible to steal the bait.
- It is tasty so rats will take the time to linger around to eat.
Some people like to use small marshmallows as bait. Some people swear by sardines.
I use peanut butter.
How to Use Effectively
To catch a rat you need to understand how it thinks, gets information and travels.
Rats compensate for their poor vision by having excellent memories. Once a rat locates a safe way to get to where it wants to go it will travel that path over and over again. This is why rats are great at running mazes in lab experiments.
Because rats have poor vision they locate paths by feel instead of sight. A rat will feel a path by keeping its body against a wall or other solid object.
Rats communicate with each other through the chemicals in their pee and poop. They put this information along their travel routes.
If you are dealing with rats in your attic then you will see a matted path against a board that is strewn with rat poop and stained with urine.
This is EXACTLY where you want to set your traps.
This is the “rat highway” they will travel every single day.
When you place the traps think about the way the rat will be moving. Make it easy for the rat to set off the trigger.
In the example below the strike pad is away from the wall. A rat that was scurrying along using the wall as a guide could easily walk right over this trap and never activate the trigger.
In this example the strike pad is directly against the wall. This is a much better situation as it places the kill zone in directly in the travel path.
My preferred way of placing the trap is to place it parallel to the travel path. This placement increases the chances of a full body strike instead of a glancing blow to the tail.
When you are dealing with a lot of rats like you will get with a typical attic infestation then it is better to set out about a dozen traps at once. If you only set out one or two traps then the remaining rats will figure out that something is going on and become very cautious.
Rats are smart and they are inherently cautious. Kill as many as you can at once before they get wise to your plans. If the rats figure out how to avoid the traps then you will need to switch to poisons.
Here are the links again to purchase the different types of rat traps.