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Rats are scavengers, which means that they will eat pretty much anything that offers nutritional value. They can survive on food morsels found in the feces of other animals, in garbage can leftovers, in residential homes and commercial properties, and even right in your back yard. What this means for you is that you could use pretty much any food type as bait in a trap and have success. Of course, this does depend on whether or not you put the traps in the right places -
Good bait types are ones that will last a long time, do not need constant replacing or replenishing, and doesn't attract other animals.
Meat products and cat/dog food is probably going to attract rats, but it might also bring other animals to the yard - animals that you didn't have a problem with to start with. Cats and dogs are also, obviously, going to be drawn to the food on the trap and could become injured as they lap it up. Raccoons, opossums, hedgehogs, ants, flies, maggots, other insects, and even larger pest animals, such as foxes or coyotes, could also be attracted to your property if you use meat products or domesticated pet food in your traps.
Meat products also go bad quickly, making it a bad bait choice, and this adds other foods to the list of "bad" bait choices. Fresh fruit and vegetables will only have a day or so's use before they turn bad, and can, once again attract other pests. Leftover strawberries will bring ants to the party, and once insects have arrived, all manner of other animals will come right after. Rats and mice eat insects just as much as they eat garbage and leftovers, and the same can be said for moles, voles, skunks, and more.
Nuts and seeds are often enjoyed by rats and mice, but they're also lapped up by squirrels, birds, and other animals, which makes them a bait type to think twice about.
There are pros and cons for all bait types for rats, but by focusing on getting the job done efficiently and effectively, such as ensuring traps are in the right position to attract rat invaders, you won't need to use them for long. In turn, this means that you won't have bait-food lying around your home for long.
You could use pretty much anything in rat traps, but there will always be a high chance that you'll attract other animals - or other rats - in the process. The bait-types that we recommend are:
Chocolate (but not when traps are easily reached by kids, cats, or dogs.)
Marshmallows (but not when traps are placed in very warm areas - the marshmallows will melt and create a sticky mess.)
Peanut butter (again, peanut butter has the potential to melt and make a sticky mess when used in hot environments.)
Go back to the Rat Removal page, or learn tips to do it yourself with my How to Get Rid of Rats guide.