The Complete Live Trapping Guide

We share our cities and parks with many different types of animals and wildlife. These animals are resourceful, they are scavengers, predators, prey, and survivors. Sometimes these critters will venture a little too close to home in order to find food or shelter; when this happens, the animal becomes a pest. But you don’t have to keep fighting with backyard critters over who gets to eat the best veggies in your garden! There are many options to trap these pests and move them off your property.

Each animal has a different set of behaviors, habitats, bait preferences, and trapping techniques that are vital in knowing to have the best success in trapping it. Remember that you may not catch the specific pest that you are trying to and it may take several attempts.

Please keep these important points in mind when attempting to live trap a pest animal:

  • Be aware of weather conditions. Trapped animals should not be left out in the elements as they can die from prolonged exposure to heat and cold. You cannot leave a trap not inspected for more than 24 hours especially if it is hot and humid.
  • Check traps FREQUENTLY. Wild animals stress easily and may seriously injure themselves as they attempt to escape. You should be looking at your trap a minimum of every 4 hours to make sure nothing is left in conditions that are inhumane.
  • You may attract non-pest animals, such as dogs and cats, in your trap. It is imperative that you constantly monitor your trap, so if an unwanted critter gets in, you can release it ASAP from your trapping location.
  • Depending on the time of year, you may trap a nursing mother and if you relocate only her, her babies will not survive. To see if you’ve trapped a nursing female, stand the trap on one end to observe the belly.
  • Traps should be washed, disinfected with a bleach solution (1-part bleach to 9-parts water and let it remain on for 20 minutes), and thoroughly rinsed after each capture to stop the spread of any potential disease. Animals frequently defecate and urinate when captured and it is unhealthy to put bait down unless trap is cleaned thoroughly.

Selecting the right bait to attract your specific pest is key, as the variety of options is almost endless. Chicken, sardines, eggs, bacon, and many vegetables can all be used as attractants to lure wildlife into traps. Below is a list of the best options for trapping some of the common pest animals that you may come across:

Bird Bait: Sunflower seeds or scratch grain
Stray Cat or Bobcat Bait: Fish, meats, oil of catnip, sardines or canned tuna, chicken
Chipmunk Bait: Prune pits, un-roasted peanuts, corn, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, cereal, grains, popcorn
Flying Squirrel Bait: Apples, seeds, red rubber ball, whole roasted peanuts
Fox Bait (Red and Gray): Scented bait from a reliable fox trapper, chicken
Gopher Bait: Peanut butter mixed with molasses, spread on whole wheat bread
Groundhog Bait: Fresh string beans, sweet corn, lettuce, peas, cantaloupe, strawberries, cucumbers, peaches, vanilla extract
Mouse Bait: Peanut butter, bread and butter, small nuts, cherry pits, oatmeal, sunflower or similar seeds. Mixed peanut butter and oatmeal is very good bait, also gum drops
Muskrat Bait: Fresh vegetables, parsnips, carrots, sweet apples, oil of anise, or musk from another muskrat
Opossum Bait: Vegetables, sweet apples, chicken entrails, sardines, crisp bacon, canned cat food
Otter Bait: Fish
Porcupine Bait: Apples, salt, carrots
Rabbit Bait: Fresh vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, lettuce), apples. In the wintertime bread is a good bait, Spraying the inside of the trap with apple cider is also effective
Raccoon Bait: Fish, fresh or canned, honey or sugar covered vegetables, smoked fish, watermelon, sweet corn, cooked fatty meat, crisp bacon. Special favorite is marshmallow!
Rat Bait: Cheese, chicken or fowl flesh, cereal grains, peanut butter and oatmeal mixed, peppermint candy
Skunk Bait: Chicken entrails, cracknels, fish-canned or fresh-insect larvae such as may beetles, crisp bacon, cat food
Squirrel Bait: Cereal, grains, nuts (especially peanuts) sunflower seeds, anise oil (a drop or two on bread), shelled corn, apples. Mixed peanut butter and oatmeal or peanut butter and molasses, popcorn.
Vole Bait: Peanut butter mixed with molasses, spread on whole wheat bread
Weasel Bait: Fish, fresh liver, chicken entrails
Woodchuck Bait: Fresh string beans, sweet corn, lettuce, peas, cantaloupe, strawberries, cucumbers, peaches, vanilla extract

It is always good to have several Havahart wire traps handy. These traps are a quality product, they are designed to be efficient, effective, and a safe option for both wildlife and yourself. A poorly designed live trap may allow for the animal to escape, injure itself, or even destroy the trap. Place a small amount of the selected bait around the entrance of the trap to gain the animal’s interest, the majority of bait should be placed inside. Once the pest animal enters the trap to get the bait, they will trigger the spring to lock them in.

If you have a fenced garden or any fences or walls where animals are found, then set the trap with both ends open along the fence, with or without bait. Most wild animals will follow along the fences and through the trap to get caught. If you can, locate regular runaways by putting up a short fence in a V-shape with an opening to set a trap in, you can direct the animal through the trap.

Once you trap an animal they should be released a good distance away from your property. Squirrels and rabbits can be released in the city at a park or by the riverside. For other wildlife, we recommend releasing them outside of the city. If you are unsure about where you should release an animal you have caught you can call your local animal services or wildlife rehabilitation center for more precise information.

Stop in any of our seven Poulin’s locations for friendly, effective advice and control products. We carry all the necessary equipment to help with your situation. So, if you’ve got some visitors you’d rather see less of, but want to make sure that the pest control company you hire treats the animals ethically, contact Poulin’s Pest Control. We’re proud to say that we’ve helped numerous families rid their properties of pests without harm to the animals themselves.

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