Project provides taste test to tempt rats
New Plymouth rats are having an array of exotic foods laid out on a platter for them but urban trappers have more sinister ideas in mind for the rodents.
A range of baits and flavours are being trialled, from peanut butter to avocado, macadamia butter to Pineapple Lumps.
The whacky approach is being employed to find the best bait to catch the pests as part of Towards Predator-Free Taranaki.
The region-wide, governmentbacked project to protect native wildlife and plants is the biggest of its kind in New Zealand.
Taking full advantage of the Predator Free 2050 Ltd, the project is having $12 million pumped into it.
Ecologist and Towards Predator-Free Taranaki project manager Toby Shanley said the trial was being run to test what food flavours were most attractive to rats.
“It’s important to trial different bait options to see what attracts rats in your backyard because just like humans, different rats have different tastes,” he said.
“However, New Plymouth rats don’t appear to be as fussy as their Wellington counterparts, where it’s been reported their preferred bait is gourmet peanut butter.”
About 1000 Taranaki residents have signed up to Towards Predator-Free Taranaki so far, each trapping in their backyard or supporting future predator control.
The long-term project is set to focus on other towns and areas in different phases over the coming years.
Rats often eye up high-fat and high-protein food, taking exception to cheese which normally doesn’t attract them, Shanley said.
He said trappers shouldn’t get disappointed if they experience a drop in catch numbers after snaring a bagful of rodents.
“It’s really important that trappers keep going even when their catch rate drops or they stop catching anything.
“Trap catches will likely reduce within the first one to two weeks, when rat numbers take a hit, but it’s important to keep your traps set so they can’t make a comeback and biodiversity continues to be protected.”