It’s peanut butter jelly time for rats in Oakura

A young Oākura trapper has discovered that Taranaki rats prefer the sweet and salty combination of peanut butter and jam when it comes to bait.

Twelve-year-old Samuel Salisbury may have helped settle a common question when it comes to backyard trapping – which bait is the best to catch rats and mice?

Over three weeks and in different locations around his school Samuel tested four different bait flavours including Nutella, half peanut butter and jam, half peanut butter and cinnamon.

His findings show peanut butter and jam came out on top as the preferred bait for rats, while Nutella was favoured by mice and plain peanut butter was the next best for both pest species.

Samuel ran the investigation at Oākura school’s Environment Centre earlier this year, and it was also entered as a project into the Science and Technology Fair in New Plymouth. This year Samuel also received the Sir Peter Blake Young Leader award, recognising environmental leadership in particular. 

He and his brother Oliver regularly checks traps at their home and around Kaitake with his mum and dad, Julie and Jeff Salisbury.

Towards Predator-Free Taranaki Project Manager Toby Shanley says the question about what bait to use is asked almost daily by urban trappers in the New Plymouth district as they rally to support native wildlife and plants by trapping rats, possums and stoats.

“I’ve heard of some pretty unusual bait flavours being tried by residents – avocado, parmesan cheese, pineapple lumps and macadamia butter, but the trick is to mix it up and find out what rats at your place like best, everyone is different.”

Shanley said anyone who sees or hears signs of a possum in urban or rural Oākura should report it, helping the trial to wipe-out possums in the area. You can report sightings on 0800 736 222 or online at