A PMP EDUCATIONAL UPDATE  |   APRIL 2021  |  View online
DTY Rodent Management
The Benefits of ‘Seasoned’ Snap Traps

By Dr. Stuart Mitchell

Both anecdotally and empirically, rodentology suggests that snap traps with previous rodent capture residue – commonly known as "death traps" or "seasoned traps" – may be more effective at attracting and capturing mice and rats than brand-new traps. Soiled or seasoned traps may possess residues of physical tissues, scat, sebum and physiological or biochemical expressions from urine such as pheromones, hormones and that unmistakable "mousy smell," which comes from acetamide, the crystalline amide of acetic acid.

Depending upon conditions and the time of death in a trap, a mouse or rat may undergo four stages of decomposition:
  1. Autolysis, or the "fresh" stage, begins immediately after the rodent dies, as gut bacteria digest cells and tissues.
  2. Bloating results from bacterial metabolic gasses inflating the carcass, which pushes fluids from bodily openings and produces strong odors.
  3. Active decay results in tissue liquefication with strong odors.
  4. Advanced decay results in dry, mummified carrion.
In the world of mice and rats, the sense of smell is a significant behavioral drive. (Editor’s Note: Click here to read about a recent study that shows mice will “socially distance” from potential mates that smell ill to them.)

To take advantage of the importance of smell to rodents, it may make good sense to use some food scents.

Build a Better Trap

"Lureology" suggests adding an odiferous, enticing food scent to seasoned snap traps. A hypoallergenic food-based gel or bait, which meets the specific nutrient-rich requirements of mice and rats, can be added to enhance the attraction of seasoned traps.

A better trap also can be a smart trap. With built-in sensor technology, pest management professionals (PMPs) can now place snap traps within remote areas and determine mice and rat captures without physically checking. A smart trap can possess a long-life battery, robust ingress protection (IP), state-of-the-art sensors, and the ability to communicate via Bluetooth technology. Smart traps can provide time-stamps of rodent activity, as well as on-site communication with PMPs. Knowing which traps to service saves valuable time, and limits environmental disturbance.

All seasoned snap traps, smart or otherwise, should be placed strategically. Think in three dimensions, because mice and rats can climb and jump. Focus on poor environmental hygiene areas and shadowy areas. Place traps adjacent to dark corners, and along shadowed structural guidelines or runways.

Also, place snap traps within areas with evidence of rodent activity, such as blood, urine or urine pillars, scat, hair, sebum smears, gnaw marks, and shredded or nesting materials.

Prior to an initial trapping at an account, do not alter the environment with exclusion or sanitation practices. You want to catch the rodents unaware. Above ceilings, place snap traps along utility lines – but ensure they are securely wired in place. After initial trapping, it’s typical to service traps at seven- to 10-day intervals.

To avoid contact with dead rodents, use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as nonporous, non-latex gloves, goggles, and if necessary, a face shield. Use forceps if desired, because dead mice and rats can possess diseases and ectoparasites. Treat them as biohazardous waste.

Snap traps can be an integral part of a rodent management program. Use every advantage you have at your disposal to ensure every trap you place is a "death trap" at the ready.

Stuart Mitchell, DO, DVM, PsyD, BCE, is an entomologist, veterinarian, observing physician and consulting clinical psychologist, and a regular contributor to Pest Management Professional's Direct to You series.

PMP's Direct To You provides pest management professionals with educational refreshers on timely and critical topics essential to operational success. Look for the content-rich PMP Direct To You archives at mypmp.net/direct-to-you-archive.

This newsletter was produced by North Coast Media's content marketing staff in collaboration with Bell Labs.

  Pest Management Professional is a property of North Coast Media, LLC.
1360 E. Ninth St., 10th Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114
© 2021 North Coast Media. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without written permission.