How to Safely Trap an Animal Pest

How to Safely Trap an Animal Pest - Pest Control

By Josie Borlongan, Garden Guides Contributor
squirrel in Have a Hart trap

About Animal Trapping

Animal trapping is a method by which animals are caught with the use of traps and baits. Animals are being trapped for sports, food and pest control. The most common reason is the latter, due to the nuisance and diseases some stray animals can cause if not controlled. Furthermore, pests could damage a garden or farm, which can cost a lot of money to repair, not to mention the loss of livelihood for farmers.

Animal trapping should only be done as a last recourse if repelling, fencing and scaring them away do not work. Also choose the humane types of trapping if you ever resort to this type of pest control.

Prevention and Control

Live trapping is a humane way of trapping animals. The trap itself doesn't harm the animals, and once caught, the animals are released far away. The problem with this trapping is that at times, when animals are released away from their natural habitat, they become disoriented and are unable to cope in their new environment, causing them to die due to starvation. It is best to call the Humane Society or local state officer to let them know you have a trapped animal and to ask if they can handle its release. These organizations would know what's best for these animals.

Better yet, prior to setting animal traps, check with these organizations regarding the laws in your state. Some animal species are protected from trapping by law in various states.

Exercise caution when handling animals that had been trapped. Wild animals may have rabies and can carry diseases that would affect humans and domesticated animals and livestock. Furthermore, there are self defenses that some animals do when frightened, like a skunk spraying or a woodchuck nipping.

Methods for Trapping Specific Animals
* Cats
Oftentimes, stray cats can pose a nuisance. Using fish, meat or cat food as bait can be very effective.

* Chipmunks and squirrels
Use metal traps; chipmunk and squirrel have sharp teeth that can bite or chew wood. Add bait to your animal trap; use nuts, peanut butter or seeds. Place your animal trapping close to a water source, such as a bird feeder, or close to the path they normally use, such as tree branches. Check the animal trap a few times a day.

* Dogs
Stray dogs can be trapped using a trap baited with dog food, meat or bones.

* Foxes
Foxes can be trapped with baits of chicken entrails, prepared scented bait or mice.

* Gophers and moles
Animal trapping with bait can be used, but is not as effective as using lethal traps. It is best to trap these gophers and moles during the spring or fall when they are highly active. Adding bait is not necessary in lethal traps. If you prefer to use a more humane way of controlling these animals, pouring gasoline and kerosene through the holes is known to be effective. The animals hate the smell and would not go through that hole again. Unfortunately, the gophers or moles will just dig new holes, so having kerosene or gasoline handy can be a temporary way to keep them away until you block the other holes.

* Martins and minks
Use chicken entrails, fish, liver, vegetables, apples or crisp bacon as bait.

* Muskrats
Use apples, carrots or parsnips as bait.

* Porcupines
Use apples, salt or carrots as baits. Watch out for the sharp needles this animal uses for self-defense.

* Rabbits
Rabbits are known to invade vegetable gardens. If fences and nettings do not work, you can add a trap with fresh vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, apples and bread as bait.

* Raccoons and opossums
You would need bigger traps for these animals. Use sardines, cat food or any food that emits a strong smell as bait. Place the bait at the back of the trap so that these animals would not be able to turn around easily to escape. Place the trap close to a food source, such as your shed where you store your garden picks or close to an open garbage cans which they are known to frequent in search of food. Make sure to use caution when you release these animals for they are known to attack human beings.

* Rats
Use mouse traps with peanut butter, cheese, grain or meat as bait.

* Skunks
Skunks love the smell of fish, so using fresh fish as bait is very effective. You can also use an opened can of sardines or seafood-flavored cat foot as an alternative for fresh fish. To protect from the skunk's spray, cover your trap. If for some reason you get sprayed, take a shower immediately, wash your self thoroughly and wash your clothes as well. To help remove odor, you can use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, orange-peel extracts or even tomato juice. Be careful when you release this animal, for it may spray again. At this point, it may just be best to call the animal control people to take care of the release of the animal.

* Weasels
Use fish, fresh liver or chicken entrails as baits.

* Woodchucks
For bait, use garden crops such as lettuce, carrots, beans and apples. The best place to place the trap is right at the entrance of their burrow. Trap only during summer; avoid spring for a burrow full of young woodchucks will be orphaned too soon. Avoid fall as well since they are about to hibernate. Use caution in trapping woodchucks for they can be very aggressive and can bite.

Affected Plants

Animals being trapped in this segment are known to invade different crops in the garden or farm as well as livestock.


Damage caused by these animals to garden crops and livestock can be very costly.

About this Author