In an ideal world

It is always interesting to hear people’s experiences with various lures and traps, but I rather lament the lack of hard, scientific, independent field trials.

My suspicion is that the effectiveness of one lure/bait/trap against another is highly dependent on context. One person’s success story is another person’s failure. The result is that the trapping community follows a fragmented, incoherent approach. Albeit well-meaning.

If we are going to ultimately meet the lofty goals we have set I think we need a far more systematic approach based on science. Calling government-funded scientists and funding bodies!

For example:

  • food scientists - surely you can develop a range of food baits which do not go mouldy and are not attractive to mice and slugs etc. This knowledge should then be made publicly available not restricted to a few commercial entities.
  • animal behaviourists - can we see some rigorous field trials comparing the effectiveness of the most common lures and baits in various natural and urban environments (not under lab conditions with lab animals).
  • mustelids - catching these seems particularly hit and miss. I imagine this is partly because of the intelligence of the animals, but I am sure we can do better. CRSPR gene-editing is amazing science - but let’s be honest - it is unlikely that the general public will ever agree to it.

I agree totally. In my mind the effectiveness of baits & lures is very dependent on the situation. My traps are very close to a river & marine environment but I am sure someone will have the experience & knowledge to suggest what the best baits & lures will be for my situation.


Hi I total agree, and catches are variable. Way back in 2004 -5 I did the first full trial on salted rabbit Vs hen eggs 220 double set traps over 15 months, rabbit came out 3 times better but hen eggs still catch so we still use a combination of eggs and rabbit just not in the same tunnel which is a dumb idea.
One of the problems I have now is that much of the research and development is now driven by Dollars and wanting/ needing a result in order to attract more funding, so you never know what you are getting or what to believe.
There is also a big disconect between research and practical applications, like all the research on bedding material being an attractant, when I saked if any further work was happening to develop a practical application the answer was NO that was just research.


Good comments, thank you Dave. I agree it is currently more about dollars and publishing career-building scientific papers. I would suggest that the “voice of the people on the ground” might be more influential than we might think. What we need is a coherent set of requirements that we can promote, preferably with the backing of Predator Free. Politicians and funding agencies will listen if they believe it is in their interests to do so. One thought I had was to invite a few relevant university and Crown Research Institute scientist to participate in the discussions on this site. They would bring some robust comments based on their knowledge of the field. The scientists are required to demonstrate Public Good and this would be a low cost way of doing this. Any support?


Great ideas Dan, worth a try but they would have to have an interest and maybe involved with trapping otherwise it would be another unpaid chore. Given how busy people seem to keep themselves time to comment maybe hard for them to find. There are plenty of companies flogging all kinds of lures and baits, maybe they should be sponsoring some real science around their products, then we should only support these companies. Bit idealistic I know. Where do these companies get their ideas for baits come from? For example there are several that market fake eggs but I have searched scientific literature quite rigorously without turning up anything that says they work. I know someone will write in and say they have caught a stoat with one as a lure but I have caught a weasel in a trap with no bait. Need some proper scientific trial evidence.


Yeah it’s an industry full of anecdotes. People will have their favourite lures, and will be sure they work, but they will have basically zero evidence for this, bar what they themselves have observed.

And of course, they don’t know how many pests were not interested. And may never be interested, so never trapped.

Proper scientific trials are needed in the pest control area as a whole. And if we’re looking at 2050 for a predator free date, then now is a good time to start doing this.

Hi sometimes you can get the actual trial papers by asking companies and sometimes not. ZIP won’t supply anything , I guess because there is not much science behind much of what they do.
A few years ago I got the research and field trial for a new toxin, what I saw in the full field trial data to me any was a bit different to what the company was saying, but they are trying to sell it, toxin didn’t work that well and has now been re formulated, will be trying it in Aug.
Like I said further up the days of good research are mostly gone due to vested interests, even much of landcare trials is sponsored by anyones guess to how independant they now are.
Much of what you get told about things like fake eggs is personal opinion, the research trial in 2005 - 6 showed that fresh eggs were better than ping pong balls fake eggs etc as with eggs being porus stoats could smell the food inside, which I think is why some use fake eggs and a piece of meat like rabbit.

basically manufacturers rule as you have no choice, ask yourself when did you ever see a mark 2 version of anything, DOC traps, Sentinels, philproof bai stations have all been around for 20 years and all have faults that manufactures have never corrected, why, because they don’t have too, market is too small for serious competition.


But in a free market, usually companies do in fact improve their products. Otherwise someone else comes along with something better.

So for instance, we are seeing Mark II DOC200/250 traps. They’re called FBombs. The jury is still out as to whether they will take over that market. But there are attempts to do it.

Having said that, I do agree with what you’re saying about ‘scientific’ trials. The trials are often run in ways to show that the product works. And any trials that show it doesn’t work are just not published.

And there’s a ‘replicability crisis’ in science too. Especially in the social sciences. Where people do experiments and report results. Then others try and replicate those experiments - but can’t replicate the results.

Maybe half the ‘scientific’ papers out there can’t be replicated. Replication crisis - Wikipedia

Frustration on my part with the Hundreds of millions 2050 are throwing at some things but next to nothing in the way of basic new tools to help field worker do a better job. things like the AT220 will have a place but cost wise even with reduced labor modelling shows not really cost effective.
I agree the bloke who made the F Bomb has done a great job with what sounds like little support, I haven’t got my hands on one yet so can’t really comment on how good they might be, really hope they are good because we need better tools at a resonable price


Good comments and a good story with the weasel! The only stoat I have ever caught was in a Victor tunnel trap with Nutella. One assumes the scent of a previous rat kill was the real attractant…but who knows? Hundreds of traps nights with salted rabbit and chicken’s necks —zilch!

More good comments - thanks! I use an AT220, I agree the capital cost is off-putting. I think if they were built at scale in an automated manufacturing plant then the price could be brought down. China anyone? And yes, I understand the social good of making them here, and it could be done if the investment was made. I agree the F bomb looks very well designed and made. But again, the cost is prohibitive compared to a Victor tunnel trap IMHO.

I am not an economist, but I wonder if this is a case of “market failure”. The thing I find interesting is that the product made by “our most successful pest control company” appears to suffer from rather indifferent long-term performance in the field. Or seems to…it would be nice to see the results of and independent long-term field study in multiple environments and at various stages of control.

Hi, re your comment stoat on Nutella, one of the blokes I work with who runs 20 cat kill traps in Bush setting thought he would try something different from rabbit and cat biscuits and he used peanut butter as a lure, you would think rats would have cleaned it up but he said he is catching cats,might just be something different and maybe not catch again.
I think the AT 220 will have a place just not for landscape trapping, for possums you can buy 8 or 9 single set traps and cover a larger area, remember there are only so many possums in the area surrounding any trap so once the initial knockdown has happened you only have dispersing possums to deal with so the catch value of a $500 trap reduces, and you still have the higher running costs.

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I run a set of 20 traps on the Waikanae River. I get NO support from the local council so all the costs of new traps & lures/baits are on me. Therefore expensive traps such as the AT220 or A24 are not an option & never will be. I am interested only in low cost options. I use eggs & dried rabbit mostly in the DoC200s. And Nutella, peanut butter, mayo in the tunnel traps. What I am interested in is a lure for rats/stoats that is not attractive to slugs, snails, slaters & other little critters. A field for further research?

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Thanks Dave, more good comments. I just have one AT220, on my 11 acre section, which I move around. I think your point about about possum traps being more cost effective in terms of long-term control is correct. I manly catch rats with my AT220. It comes into its own during migration spikes in the rat population. The great thing about the AT220 is that once set you can pretty much leave it for a month or more. You can’t do that with a standard possum trap because often it will have been triggered or the bait will have gone off. I am sure you know all this better than I do!

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I find my terracotta lures work extremely well on my population of rats. They are not affected by mould, slugs or insects. I estimate after using them in the field for a couple of years that the catch rate is very similar to nutella. However, coming back to my original point: they work very well for me, but I can’t claim to know that they will work in your context.
Terracotta lures for Victor traps
Update - Terracotta lures for Victor Traps

One thing I find works really well in rat traps is the large size PESTOFF prefeed pellets, slugs etc eventually chew away at them but I generally get at least two weeks, what i do is I DON’T put the pellet on the trip plate where you put peanut butter I put it further back past the trip plate by the spring, rat walks over the trip plate to get to the pellet.
The problem is pest off only sell it by the sack 20gks, so I generally just keep a few Kgs after doing a pest operation.
The other longer lasting Lure using the same method of lure not on trip plate but further back are pieces of Walnuts or Macadamia, during walnut season March /April up here I used half a walnut

I’ve used the same technique with my T-Rex traps. Until they ran out a few weeks ago, I 'd been using some thumb-sized feijoas, positioning them past the treadle. It’s an effective way to kill rats that are able to eat lures out of the bait cups.

I’m going to try gluing some DIY lure cups onto the rear of the treadle plate, like a small bottle cap to put lures like peanut butter, Nutella, Goodnature Meat-Lovers’ lure, etc., inside. I think that Blu-Tack should work to stick solid lures to the treadle, like small walnuts, for example. The last 2 years, my neighbour’s walnut crops have failed due to bad weather, so I’ve been deprived of an amazing free lure.


I noted the discussion about AT220 traps. Here’s our 2c worth from Bluff Hill Motupohue. Our AT220 fleet of 150 traps has been deployed for 9 months on average. During that time, we have counted 327 rat and 253 possum carcasses under those traps. That’s an apparent kill rate of 0.24 rats/trap/month and 0.19 possums/trap/month. Pretty effective for a trap that lasts 6 months on one battery and 500ml of lure.
We know carcasses are being removed by cats and mustelids and after careful analysis (using the AT220 computer records), we believe that the actual number of rat kills is 1,210; possum kills 557. That’s a corrected kill rate of 0.89 rats/trap/month and 0.41 possums/trap/month. That’s really efffective!
We’re on a journey to achieve a predator-free Motupohue by 2028. So ‘effectiveness’ is a more important measure than ‘efficiency’ because we have an end date…
I’m putting a document together that sets out our data, the methodology, the analysis and conclusions. Let me know if you would be interested in receiving a copy.

Hi I had a quick look at your project and yes you are in an ideal situation with water all around to make it predator free which unforfunatly most aren’t.
I would be interested in your report I guess a couple of questions would be do you do camera monitoring, roughly what spacings are your traps, are AT22 the only trap you use, what about Cats an Mustelids, is the number of animals caught trending down,
what we find on 1,000 hectares of possum control with 330 sentinels is there are very low numbers of possums in the core of block and most of the catches are now near boundaries where there is NO pest control, and politics make it difficult to do much about that