The Best Rat Trap Ever!

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If you live in southern California and you have trees – you have rats. Most likely, something like these guys. Get used to it, its just a fact of life and is no indication of one’s level of cleanliness.

If you also happen to have a garden and livestock, then you really have rats and they’re a significant problem.

Here at Anicca Acres we have about 15 laying hens, six goats, and as much real estate dedicated to production as possible with a combination of vegetables and fruit trees. Inside the coop and feed barn, rats have always been a problem.

I declared war a few weeks ago when I dropped eight tomato plants into the ground along the fence line and awoke the next morning to devastation – little bastards had eaten every single plant down to a nub.

Things escalated when I woke one morning to find my freshly planted from seed corn plucked through and all the seeds gone.

This. Is. War. I thought to myself, jumped on the internet and started researching solutions that didn’t involve poison.

I am not interested in getting rid of the rats only to kill off their natural predators via secondary poisoning, thus no poison for me. We already use the Victor Rat Zapper and it is extremely effective if you have a minor problem. Surveying the scope of the damage to my tomato plants, I knew I needed something larger as this was no small problem.

Initially my research led me to something like the trap shown in this video. Thinking myself the handy sort of fella, I followed the directions rigged up something using PVC piping instead of the tin can and set it out.


Looking over my design, I realized my flaw – the pvc pipe was old and extremely malleable and wasn’t as round – more elliptical – than it should be to rotate freely thus depositing the rats into the drink below.

“Ok, self,” I said to myself. “We’ve got some better PVC out back, go get it and fix this thing up.”

Before I had a chance to rework my trap, I talked to my friend, Marianne West of the Sustainable Living Podcast who recommended a similar but different solution.

By god its brilliant, crazy effective and stupid simple.

  1. Fill a five-gallon bucket about half full with water.
  2. Sprinkle enough black oil sunflower seeds across the top of the water to fully cover it – about a bowl full. I got the seeds locally at Ranch Feed and Pet Supply in Jamul but any feed store should carry them.
  3. Lean some sort of a ramp into the bucket – I used a few random fence panels I had laying around.
  4. Walk away.

I set one bucket out near my devastated tomatoes and hoped like hell it would work. The next morning I walked out, plunged a stick in the water and by golly there was something in there. I grabbed a pair of tongs and a sack and started pulling out drowned rats.

Nine total. Success.

Its on!

The next day I placed buckets near the seeds, in the feed shed, on the roof and reloaded my bucket near the now healthy looking tomato plants.

In total, 25 dead rats collected. If you have a rat problem this is your solution. I can’t thank the folks at Sustainable Living Podcast enough for their recommendation.

Next up – gophers.

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