20 All-Natural Rat Baits for Your Mouse Traps

Rats and mice are an inseparable and necessary part of the natural world, that much is certain. But what else is certain is that absolutely nobody likes them when they are part of our human world. Or at least, when they’re an uninvited party!

They cause damage, stink up your home, and spread disease, a triple threat that means you must deal with rodent kind whenever and wherever they crop up: in your home, outbuildings, or elsewhere on your property.

But these creatures are crafty, and catching them using a lethal or non-lethal trap means you’ve got to have the right bait to entice them.

On the list below you’ll find 20 effective all-natural baits that you probably have in your own pantry right now. Try a few, and soon your rodent problem will be a thing of the past.

smearing metal can with peanut butter
smearing metal can with peanut butter to for a mouse trap

Peanut Butter

If there was one bait, just one, that you are going to reach for, make it peanut butter. Nothing seems to work as well or be as appealing to the greatest variety of these tiny, pesky animals.

Peanut butter is very nutritious, filling, and has a sticky texture that means mice have to work at it a little bit to try and free it from the trigger of your trap (if applicable). Even if you’re using it in a non-lethal catch trap, the stuff is so irresistible that the rodents will stumble in one after another to get it. Best of all, it’s quite cheap!

Other Nut Butters

Mice and rats alike eat all kinds of nuts, not just peanuts. And accordingly, all sorts of nut butters are likewise highly attractive to them. If you don’t have peanut butter, or maybe if you have an allergy to it and don’t want it in your home, you can still expect great success using cashew, pistachio, almond, or any other kind of tree nut butter.

Use it just as you would peanut butter, to bait triggers, or place it inside the bait station of a non-lethal trap, and mice and rats will be pushing each other out of the way to get to it. Its only downside is that it tends to be more expensive than peanut.


Don’t overlook peanuts themselves as good bait. Roasted peanuts tend to be quite fragrant and still very attractive to rodents…

The only downside associated with them is that they aren’t likely to be as easy to use if you need to apply bait directly to the trigger of any given kind of trap, particularly the typical snap-type traps crush mice and rats with a spring-loaded bar.

However, for loading large economy bait station peanuts might be a better choice than peanut butter because they won’t dry out like peanut butter will.

Other Tree Nuts

In the same way as using whole peanuts instead of peanut butter, you can use other tree nuts as bait.

However, it should be noted that different species of rodents seem more or less particular when it comes to whole tree nuts, so it’s worth researching what kind of critter you are dealing with and tailoring the bait accordingly for maximum appeal.

Also, if the nuts are still in the shell, make sure you hull them so they’re easy for the little pests to get to and smell from a distance. I’ve had great success with pistachio nuts, almonds, and cashews myself.


Believe it or not, all kinds of rodents are huge fans of seeds…

Don’t believe me? Pay attention to the ground under your bird feeder at night, and I’ll guarantee that you’ll see mice, rats, and other varmints gathering up what the birds drop, and of course, every birdwatcher is already entirely acquainted with squirrels getting directly on feeders themselves.

And trust me; if mice and rats could reach them, they would do the same! You can grab a scoop of bird seed to load bait stations with, and get even better success by stuffing some seeds inside a wad of peanut butter to make an irresistible temptation.

Suet Blocks

Suet blocks tend to be formed from beef or mutton fat, seeds, sometimes molasses and dried fruit, and other ingredients. They are an extremely calorie-dense option for birds and also for rodents.

The great thing about a suet block is that it is durable and won’t really dry out, that and they can endure repeated visits from nighttime raiders until totally gobbled up. These blocks are an especially good option for loading into bucket traps or large “mouse motels” that can be used to depopulate barns and outbuildings when left alone.


There’s a reason why mice are always running around out in the fields: it’s because there is food out there! Including one of their favorite foods in the form of grains.

If you have a box of “dull” cereal like grape nuts, cornflakes, rice Chex, and things like that, you’ll find they make a pretty good (if short-lived) bait for traps.

But as with other hard or crunchy baits, you might struggle a bit to make these work with any trap design that necessitates the bait be loaded onto the trigger itself. Nimble, delicate mouse paws can easily remove them without setting off the trap!

Whole Grains

If you have whole grains, whatever kind and whatever form, they can work as bait in areas where mice and rats are known to frequent or pass.

Remember that you always want to use the most fragrant bait you can attract them reliably, and the tastier the bait smells the more irresistible it will be to these cautious animals. Grains can definitely work, but they shouldn’t be your first choice.

Bacon Bits

Another bait that I’ve had great success with is bacon bits, particularly the soft and chewy kind rather than the hard and crunchy kind.

These are perfect for stretching your dollars as a rat attractant. They also happen to be a great choice for “enhancing” soft and sticky nut butters and other bait, as you can attract rats that might prefer sweet or savory food at the same time.

Beef Jerky

Beef jerky works very much like soft bacon bits in terms of functionality. It is an especially good rat attractant, and any that has a sweet-and-savory flavor like teriyaki is particularly effective.

However, if beef jerky has one downside it is that it is very expensive, as any fans in the audience reading already know.

Would I go out of my way to use this as rat bait? No, I wouldn’t, especially when I have so many other effective, inexpensive options but if “needs must” and you have some beef jerky you can get to work trapping right away using it.


Chicken, particularly fragrant canned chicken, is another fairly reliable attractant for rats but it’s less effective against mice.

Resist the temptation to drain it and dry it out, because leaving it good and moist is going to help it stay fragrant longer and also increase the initial “throw” of the older which will make it more appealing to rats.


One of the stinkiest baits on our list but also one that’s worth trying, especially if you’re trying to catch rats near a river or any other installation where they might have had access to fish or fish guts as a food source already.

The major drawback with fish, of course, is that it will start to stink to high heaven if it is left out, so I don’t recommend you use this for any traps that will be in living areas or behind walls where the odor might spread to the rest of the structure.

Dry Cat Food

All kinds of rodents are perennial thieves of pet food that is left out, and that might be indeed what attracted them in the first place. Dry cat food is cheap, convenient, easy to handle, and odorous enough that you can depend on it to attract mice and rats alike, though once again it works better on rats.

Like all hard baits on our list, think twice before using it on any trap with a baited trigger; rodents might be able to gingerly remove it without setting it off thanks to its pellet form.

Wet Dog Food

Wet dog food works very much like cat food for attracting rats, but being so moist, it’s even more alluring thanks to its intense odor.

This can make it a better option for arming a lethal trap because it rats are more likely to disturb the trigger getting every last bit and lick off of it before departing. If they try, it’ll be lights out!

shoebox mouse trap with bait
shoebox mouse trap with Swiss cheese bait

Cheese, Cheese Spread, Swiss Cheese

What do mice like more than cheese? The truth is, almost anything! Sorry to spoil that old piece of “wisdom,” but it’s true. However, cheese spread and canned cheese products like Cheese Whiz have peculiar ingredients and properties that are highly attractive to mice and rats.

They also stay moist and viable a lot longer than most kinds of actual cheese, meaning if you have nothing else you can reach for snack cheese products and use them as bait in a variety of settings.


Soft, sugary candies can also be the target of rodent affection, though they usually go for these only as a food source of opportunity or when they have no other choice.

That said, it’s worth a try, especially if these pesky creatures seem cautious or shy of all the other baits you’ve tried. The softer and stickier the gum drops the better, and their texture means they can stick on a trigger and be very difficult to remove without tripping the trap.

Milk Chocolate

Chocolate is harmful to rodents directly: that’s because it contains theobromine, a compound that will cause organ damage and eventually death if they eat too much of it.

We generally won’t be able to rely on either mice or rats eating enough to be poisoned without special preparation using dark chocolate, but sweet milk chocolate is fragrant and enticing enough to work pretty well as common bait.

Other Soft Candy

Any other kind of soft candy is worth a shot if you have nothing else or if you’re running out of baits to try against particularly cagey rodents.

If you have any option, pick candy that is made with a shorter ingredients list, and one that is mostly “real”: Artificial ingredients and sweeteners especially seem to deter more mice than they attract!


Mice especially will eat fruit that they can find in the wild, and raisins are sweet, delicious, and calorie-dense favorites of theirs. For best results, use raisins in conjunction with peanut or cashew butter to sort of glue them in place so the mice, once again, can’t run off with them.

Other Dried Fruit

All other kinds of dried fruit are worth a shot, too, not just raisins. Just keep in mind that the rule is: softer and stickier is better: apricots, figs, prunes, dates, and such are all good choices, but I would steer clear of banana chips and apple chips as they are rock-hard and not particularly aromatic.

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