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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Cheap, Easy, Effective, and Safe DIY Rat Bait

Several years ago when we lived in Antelope Valley north of Reno, our little valley experienced a packrat infestation. Now mice are bad, and rats are worse, but packrats are evil incarnate. Almost as bad as lawyers and politicians.

They weren’t getting into the house or our food storage. They were building their massive, nasty nests in our vehicles, using whatever they deemed comfy and essential. They brought in a bit of outside material, but also found it necessary to chew through wires in our car and truck. I can’t remember all the damage they did—my husband sure would as he had to make the repairs—but chewing through the wires to the seat warmer in the driver’s seat of the Subaru was beyond rude.

Anyway, we won the Great Packrat War of 2018, after several hundred dollars in damages as well as shelling out some big bucks for electronic traps. (We also tried the rolling can smeared peanut butter over the water bucket. Never killed anything with it.)

The packrats and their damage became a distant memory.

Until we returned from vacation earlier this month.

As we were going back and forth from the house and unloading the trailer, Aaron and Sierra (Becky’s 12-year-old lab mutt with joint problems) spotted a rodent. Aaron got a whack in, but Sierra channeled her inner puppy, chomped down on it, and, dripping blood all along the sidewalk, carried it to the grass. She didn’t know what to do with it afterwards, but she gets treats for the rest of her life.

Even though we’ve never seen any evidence of rats or packrats here, we’ve always felt that if you see one, there are at least a dozen you don’t see. And we really don’t want any more vehicle problems. So it’s time to put together a little rat bait.

This bait will also work on mice if you don’t want to use (or don’t have) instant potato flakes for them.

The idea for this bait comes from Jerry Hansen of Pine Meadows Hobby Farm on Youtube, and he says it has almost completely eradicated the rodent population on his farm. (I say almost because you often have newbies wandering onto the property.)

First, put on some disposable gloves before you begin gathering supplies. (Rats have an extremely keen sense of smell. If you don't use gloves, your hands will leave your scent behind and they learn to associate the scent of your hands with death. You know, because their little friends died after eating the bait.)

Get a disposable plastic container—like deli meats come in, Gladware, etc., with a lid.
Cut a little rat hole in the side.
Mix a box of Jiffy cornbread mix with equal amounts of baking soda.
Put about ¼ cup of the mixture inside and replace the lid.
Set the bait where you find evidence of the rats. Check frequently and replace the mixture as necessary.

Now there are several great things about this method for killing mice that you need to know.

It’s totally safe for children, pets, and any wildlife that may eat the rodents before (or after) they die.

It kills mice and rats because the baking soda reacts with their stomach acid and builds up gas. Rats and mice can’t burp or fart. The gas continues to build and eventually their stomachs explode. Dead rat. Or mouse.

It’s totally cheap, totally food storage, totally off-grid, and totally easy.

Also, you can use your own cornbread mix. There’s nothing special about using Jiffy; it’s just what Jerry Hansen used. The cornbread mix, whatever the source, is the attractant. The baking soda, when it reacts with the stomach acid, is what does the killing. The cornbread mix just entices the rodents to eat the baking soda.

Make sure you have plenty of baking soda stored. It’s got loads of preparedness uses beyond baking.

Links to related posts:

Beyond Mashed Potatoes—Seven Really Diverse Ways to Use Instant Potato Flakes

The Medicinal Uses of Baking Soda

Baking Essentials—Basics of Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Cream of Tartar, and Yeast

How to Make Dakin’s Solution


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