Missing Baits - Help!

I hope I’m not asking something that has been discussed before but a quick search didn’t turn anything up. I have several trap lines on our property using Trapinator possum traps. The first 3 years have been very successful averaging about 350pa. However recently the baits are disappearing with the traps still set. This first started when I used the Treacle Gold possum lure after changing from Possum dough. I suspected rats and/or mice (on the increase after intensive cat trapping!!) but no evidence on my camera. Changed back to Possum dough but it still disappears, 30 traps in one line everyone empty. I moved one trap and found 3 large slug like creatures on the back of it, could they be eating the bait? Has anyone any comments, tips or help? Thanks Pat

I have certainly had “large slug-like” creatures and snails eating my nutella rat baits. I have even caught one! I imagine treacle would be just as attractive.

Found this recent comment on the FB page for Wellington Natural Heritage Trust (next door to Zealandia). “Another really noticeable development is the large number of native leaf-veined slugs inhabiting empty bait stations. They make a heck of a mess inside but I think they’re an indicator of rats being well-controlled.” Also: Photo of the week: Leaf-veined slug | Conservation blog

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Hi Tony and Dan, many thanks for that. That is great information, I will attach photo I took and they are definitely leaf veined slugs so perhaps they are the cause. As you will see there are quite a number of them, they were on the back of the trap where it is against the tree so completely hidden. They must like the aniseed.


Time and weather permitting, visit a few of your traps the day after you re-lure them, to find out how much of it is left, and to see if there are any signs of activity - bitemarks, droppings, insects and/or invertebrates in the act of eating it, etc. If the bitebar is pristine after 24 hours, you can rule out insects and invertebrates.

Do you ever run the camera during daylight hours? I ask, because it’s possible that small birds are perching inside your Trapinators and eating the bait.

If you’re also operating rat traps near your Trapinator lines, I have a suggestion. Leave a small number of your Trapinators without a new application of a possum lure, and use it in the rat traps, instead. If rats have been eating the lure, you should experience a high trapping-rate, because their normal supply is gone, and it’s a food source that they like and know is safe.

Best of luck!

The smell of anise appeals to a wide range of animals, so they may be lured to the traps, but leaf-veined slugs eat algae and fungi off of vegetation, so they stick around because the gap between the trap and the trunk is good shelter.

Thanks Willowflat, yes I use the camera in daylight as well with no sign of birds entering. I am not sure mice trigger the camera though so I suspect they are still the culprits. I also have mice and rat traps on the same or next door tree and do bait them with the same baits but I yet to catch anything in them at all though traps are often triggered. (doing this for at least 6 months). And yes the traps can be cleaned out completely the next day.
I have a few AT220’s and I will put them in this line and see what they catch, in my experience they are excellent for mice and rats as well as possums.
I find it a bit hard to believe that slugs would clean out so many traps.

Hi, Ye please try the AT220 and report back.
The AT220 is mounted off the ground so maybe less slugs??
Also ye they will deal to any rats or mice.
Also the AT220 rebaits just after dark (if you software is not tooo old).

Happy hunting

If it isn’t birds, it has to be mice. I do whatever I can to avoid using poison, but if there are that many mice around, I’m not sure you have much choice. Your Trapinators will be useless unless there’s a big reduction in the mouse population, or you can find a bait that they dislike. I hope somebody else can help you to find a solution.

Speaking of mice, I purchased some Times Up One-Touch mouse traps from Mitre 10 after I saw them receive glowing reviews on Youtube. The traps are way, way better than the competition, they’re more humane, and they’re cheap. I started out with a pair of traps to see if they lived up to the hype, and after a week of constant kills, I bought another 6. I used some scrap timber to make tunnels for them, because mouse traps tend to go missing regularly, I’ve found. I made 1/2" holes in plywood for the entrances.

Since I began using them this April, I’ve killed 150 small rodents. A lot of the “mice” have been a bit large, so a significant % of my kills are likely to be juvenile rats. In addition to the decrease in the local rodent population, I now have a steady supply of bait for my DoC tunnels. I’m keeping a double-set mouse trap tunnel next to a DoC 200 double-set in the bush, which I check every day. The amount of bait theft that occurs is way lower than normal, and I end up killing a decent number of the thieves.

The same thing applies to snap-traps. If you use them for rats, placing a double-set tunnel nearby is a good way to make sure that there is bait on the traps when the rats show up.

It’s worthwhile making a tunnel with these traps just to keep your spirits up when you aren’t catching larger predators. I’ve only trapped 1 ship rat and 1 brown rat so far this month, but I’ve already trapped 24 small rodents. How many rats have I prevented from reaching breeding age? Even it it’s only mice, a lot of small creatures have been spared.


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Thanks Kev, just for clarification the Trapinator traps are around 1m up trees so these slugs must be climbing up there. I am away for a month so will report back as soon as I have completed first checks.

Hi Willowflat, Thanks for your thoughts. I also suspect it is likely to be mice, perhaps this is a result of quite extensive feral cat trapping and removal of them. Although there are certainly some left. And yes pretty pointless trying to trap possums when the bait is being removed. There have always been a few problem traps but out of a 100 there are at least 40 being cleaned out. I also don’t want to use poison, I am also trying to control 450ha. I have tried all sorts of things, I have nailed 300mm strips of tin around the trees below the traps which has not slowed them down at all. I also have mouse and rat traps on the tree and also have tried corflute tunnels. I have also tried poison in tunnels below a few trees. None of this seems to have made any difference. I have now placed some AT220 traps around to see what they catch, I know from experience they are effective at trapping mice and their remains stay on the bars so you know if mice are around. However cannot afford this as a permanent solution on all my lines. Not sure removing mice is even possible. Solution will be a possum bait that is not attractive to mice. I have tried a few with no success. I haven’t tried dried apricots yet but will although I imagine mice will love them too. Will also trial the traps you have mentioned.

I use quarter apple with a smear off peanut in my trapinator Mice will clean up the PB but not the apple

Thanks Hugh, will try that Cheers

I’ve certainly lost bait to introduced tiger slugs. They slime all over the bait and trap. I had not considered that leaf-veined slugs could be present - have only seen tiger slugs. We sprinkle bran for them, would not do that if it risked harm to a native slug.

I didn’t know you were covering such a large area. Even if you wanted to use it, the amount of poison you’d need would cost a fortune, and it would take a hell of a lot of work to get things up and running. The problem’s only going to get worse if the already-healthy mouse population keeps getting a big feed, so I think that you’ll have to retire the traps temporarily and conduct a few experiments, instead. You’ll lose a lot of time and money, and gain a lot of frustration, if you stay the course. Could the money that you’ve been spending on possum dough be redirected towards a few AT-220’s? At least you’d get something, that way.

I have an A12 that hasn’t experienced any noticeable rodent activity, so Goodnature’s Possum Lure might be worth a try. A sachet’s only about $10, and 1 goes a lot further than you’d think (but don’t use too much pressure when you apply it!). You could squeeze a bit on to the bark that the traps are on, or on top of the lid (if it isn’t raining).

To my surprise, the rodents here don’t like dried apricots. Pieces will receive some tiny nibbles, and then it’s ignored. It must be the texture, because softer dried fruits are very popular.

In my Timms traps, I use pieces of Granny Smith apples coated with cinnamon. I’ve trapped a lot of possums using it, and it’s very rare to see any signs of interference. I don’t use red apples, because their sweetness will appeal to a wider range of species, like birds. The cinnamon coating definitely reduces the rate at which the apple pieces dehydrate, and it also slows the rate at which mould starts to grow on the apple. I’m fairly generous with the amount of cinnamon that I use, so bear that in mind.

As an experiment, you could attach pieces of GS with cinnamon to the bite-bar of a few Trapinators. If it was only for a few days, I think that rubber bands would do the job.

Giving the possum dough a coating of cinnamon could be a simple, really cheap partial-solution. I’d be very surprised if a simple coating of cinnamon was the silver bullet, but it might give you an extra night or two before the bait disappears.

I really hope that you can solve this problem.


Thanks for all those really helpful ideas. I do use some A12’s so have some of that cinnamon and will try it in the trapinators. It is also possible to put a screw through the bite bar of the trapinator for attaching apple or apricots. I did this for meat to see if cats would come in them, they didn’t. I am away soon for a month so have been making a list of things to try. Will report back on what results I find. I find a smear of possum dough on the tree really improved the catch rate but unfortunately this may be what attracted the mice/rats. I am also considering moving the traps to perhaps half way between where they are now. Maybe outside the mouse range?

I have had baits disappear to weta so changed to slices of apple in my trapinators just spiked and pushed up against the bite block. I also occasionally put a few pieces of bait (double tap or brodifacoum) in the base of the trapinator to kill bait stealing rodents. A couple of screws up through the bottom of the trap stops the baits rolling out if the trap is not level.

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Interesting topic thread. We use trapinators and find the lure is ofter missing, both Possum Dough and GN Cinnamon pre-feed.
We had decided to trail the terracotta lures soaked in peach oil to give a longer lasting lure and in hopes that we will entice more possum as the trap will be lured all the time. The connotation type tubular terracotta fits nicely on the trapinator rod.

How do you put the screw through the bite-bar? I don’t have a good track record drilling through plastic! I’d love to see a photo.

A potential solution to your bait-stripping problem, may be to reduce the frequency with which you lure your Trapinators. The rodents living near your traps have come to expect a large meal at a regular interval, so they visit the traps frequently. If you were to double the time between re-baitings, for example, rodents shouldn’t visit them as often (in theory).

In order to increase the food neophobia that rodents experience when they visit your traps, rotating a variety of lures should make a difference. If rodents are familiar with the lures that you’re using, the amount that they will consume per night will be far higher than if it’s a novel lure. Instead of your lure disappearing in 1 night, you might get 2. Using a variety of lures may also be more effective at trapping possums, anyways, like it is with rats.

Being away from your traps for a month is advantageous, in a sense, because you can find out if the appeal of your traps as a food source has waned. Lure the traps like normal, to find out what the consumption-rate is after a 1-month empty.

I think that you should tinker with things for a while, instead of moving your traps. You could go to the trouble of moving the traps, only to discover that the exact same problem occurs on the new line.


Hi Dianne, I have tried those terracotta lures, they last well but I have found them to be very ineffective, did not trap a possum even after using the passionfruit spray all around the traps. So will be interested how you get on. Cheers,