How to trap in your backyard

Department of Conservation —  15/10/2017

It’s Conservation Week from the 14th – 22nd of October. You can get involved by protecting the native species in your neighborhood with a backyard trap.

One of the best ways you can look after the native birds and lizards in your back yard is by protecting them from rats and mice. Rats are a major predator of our native species, eating eggs and chicks as well as fully grown birds and lizards, while mice compete with our native animals for food, leaving them to go hungry.

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By trapping at home you will be keeping the native animals in your area safe from these threats.

What you will need:

A mouse trap

A rat trap

A rat tunnel (also known as a trap box)


An outdoor area to put your trap


Top: mouse trap, rat trap, peanut butter. Bottom: trapping tunnel

Sourcing your trap and tunnel

The easiest way to start trapping is to find your nearest predator control group through the Predator Free New Zealand Trust. Many community groups throughout the country are carrying out predator control. They can provide advice to help you start backyard trapping.

You can buy a tunnel from here and traps here.

Where to put your trap

Rats and mice don’t like to run across big open areas like lawns, and instead tend to stay near the cover of plants of buildings. This means that a good place to put your trap is beside a wall or bank, as the rats and mice are likely running along here.


Trapping tunnel set up next to a small ledge rats and mice likely run beside

How to set your trap

1. Place the rat tunnel beside your bank or wall and open the door, ready to insert your traps.


Traps set up in the tunnel, ready to go

2. Put a teaspoon of peanut butter into the rat and mouse traps, and set them.

3. Slide your rat trap into the tunnel with the step plate facing away from your hands (i.e. facing the tunnel entrance), then slide the mouse trap in behind it. Try to keep the traps near to the back of the tunnel where you are sliding them in. If they are clear of the entrance to the tunnel there is less risk of snapping curious pets or children’s fingers.

You’re all set (excuse the pun).

You can find more instructions on setting a trap here.

How often to check your trap

Have a look inside every day or two for the first couple of weeks to get an idea of how many mice and rats are around. Keep checking every few days if you’re finding you’re catching quite a few, but if you find you’re not seeing many you can reduce your checks to once every week or two.


Make sure you keep your bait fresh as well, replacing it and cleaning your trap every month or so.

What to do with the rats and mice you catch

This is up to you, but we recommend either burying them in the garden or putting them in the rubbish, wrapped in newspaper if your rubbish day is a while away.




It’s Conservation Week from the 14th – 22nd of October. Get involved by protecting, growing, nurturing and caring for our nature.


Please note that it is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to use any inhumane methods to dispatch of predators. Approved methods for dispatching of predators using kill traps are outlined in our PF2050 trapping guide. All of these traps have been approved by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and comply with The Animal Welfare Act 1999.

9 responses to How to trap in your backyard


    The good old DOC200 seems to be quite effective.


    Awesome post, Keep up the good work!


    these traps are ok when they kill instantly. unfortunately, sometimes they don’t. I’ve seen rats and mice being trapped by the snout or a paw, doubtlessly suffering terrible pain. if not found immediately they will die a very cruel slow death. in my opinion, Goodnature traps are the only acceptable method. they kill instantly meaning no suffering and have been independently tested to meet the highest humane standards. yes, they cost a bit, but inflicting pain and slow death when it can be prevented…really ? put your money where your mouth is, co-greens !


    What’s the best fastest way to kill em


    Very useful information… I just wish you had chosen our locally made Pics peanut butter!

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