What is Best -Traps or Poison?

When you are dealing with a rodent infestation you have two main options: should you use traps or should you use poison? Which one is best?

Traps or Poison

The choice to use traps of poison depends on your specific situation and personal preferences. However, this is my recommendation as to which of these would perform best against the main decision criteria.

  • Efficiency (speed of resolution) – Poison
  • Safe use around pets – Traps
  • Ease of use – Poison
  • Visual progress – Traps
  • Avoid handling dead rodents – Poison
  • Risk of bad smells (decaying rodents) – Traps

In this blog I will expand on each of these points and also touch on some others. Armed with this information you will then be able to decide for yourself.

To be clear, when I talk about traps I specifically mean spring loaded ‘snap traps’ which are intended to kill the rodent instantly. I would certainly never recommend water traps, where the rodent drowns. Or even worse, glue traps where the rodent can be left to die of thirst.


It takes a while for poison to enter the rodent’s bloodstream and by the time it starts to take effect they will no longer associate it with the bait they have eaten. Similarly, other rodents will have no warning that the poison bait is just that and not a ‘free meal’ left by the kind homeowner.

On the other hand, when a trap goes off all the other rodents in the vicinity will scatter. It will then take time for them to feel comfortable enough to come back, but come back they will. This is particularly true for mice that may congregate in numbers rather than an individual rat that enters a bait station.

Safe Use

Clearly you need to be careful that you place any traps or poisons away from the reach of children or pets. This is particularly so for the stronger rat poison and the larger rat traps which, if used outside, should always be placed in a bait station.

That being said, if you are in anyway concerned about safety then you should definitely go for traps over poison.

Ease of use/Effort

With poison you can almost ‘set and forget’ just coming back every few days to check on the bait and replenish if necessary.

One of our reviews came from a caravan owner who put down mouse poison before it went into winter storage. A clear ‘set and forget’ example that would not work with traps.

It can be a little trickier to be successful with traps and they do need checking regularly for dead rodents. Then reset and re-baited.

Visual Progress

Are you the type of person who wants to clearly see the results of their endeavours? If so, it has to be traps. You have no idea where a poisoned rodent will take itself to die.

On the other hand, you may not want to see (and handle) a dead rodent. In which case your choice would lean towards using poison.


Finally, there are a couple of risks you may wish to add into your decision making.

Dead Body Smell

With traps it’s simple: you just pick the dead rodent out of the trap and dispose of it by bagging and placing in your general waste. With poison, while it is less likely that you will have to come into contact with the dead rodent, there is no telling where it will die. If this is a wall cavity or other inaccessible space in your home then there is no way to retrieve it. This can result in the smell of the rotting rodent permeating into your home. However, in my experience this is quite rare and probably only occurs in 1 in 10 internal rodent treatments.

Secondary Poisoning

This is where the poisoned rodent is eaten by another mammal and that then in turn ingests rodenticide.

This is of less of a risk with today’s rodenticides as active ingredients are limited. Also by the time they have killed the rodent most has already been dissipated. A good mouse poison, for example, is very targeted and the quantities consumed by an individual will have little effect on any larger mammals. However, if the potential of secondary poisoning is of concern to you then opt for traps.

Home Use Products

There are no restrictions on the sale of traps and bait stations. Indeed, the ones sold on this website are the exact same ones I use daily as a professional pest controller.

There are restrictions on poisons, with some products only available to someone holding the appropriate licence; however, the difference is not huge. For example, on this site the Racan Rapid bait for rats contains 0.0025% of the active ingredient Brodifacoum, while the licensed product contains 0.005%.

For mice there is no difference in the home use and licensed product for the active ingredient Alphachloralose. Both contain 4%.

In my opinion, provided you are using good quality products, the fact that they are ‘home use’ should not be a factor in your decision making.


As a pest control professional, I have a clear preference and that is to use poison. However, my bias is based on efficiency (getting the job done as quickly as possible) and effort (minimising the number of visits). Only when concerned about the safety of children or pets would I opt for traps instead of poison.

However, you need to consider your own priorities. Maybe you would sacrifice the efficiency of poison to eliminate the risk of a bad odour.

As a final note, don’t forget to read our ‘how-to’ guides before starting your treatment. You can also download these in pdf format.