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How to Build Prairie Dog Traps

By Brenda Priddy
Prairie dogs are pests when found in gardens and lawns.
prairie dog image by Poleboy G from Fotolia.com

Prairie dogs can cause serious problems in a garden or lawn. Prairie dogs create running tunnels under the ground, which can cause problems for the root of plants, foundations and even walking or mowing the lawn because they create pitfalls that can twist an ankle or cause more serious damage. Prairie dogs should be caught alive if possible, and transported to a safe location. All of these traps provide a safe trap for prairie dogs that should not harm the animal.

Bottle Trap

Find the main prairie dog tunnel by observing the tunnel bumps in the yard. The main tunnel will be larger, and have several other smaller tunnels coming out from it. Dig a hole inside the main prairie dog tunnel that is about 18 inches deep. Make the tunnel about twice as wide at the bottom as it is at the top.

Lay a flat object large enough to cover the hole over the tunnel, but leave it propped up about an inch with rocks or sticks. Cover the tunnel back up with dirt.

Check the trap the next morning. The prairie dog should be stuck inside the hole, unable to get out. If no prairie dog appears for a week, then try a different trap or move the bottle trap to a new location.

Treadle Snare

Open the top of the main prairie dog line through your yard. Place two forked sticks, forked side down, into the side of the run on one side about 10 inches apart from each other.

Tie two sticks long enough to span the distance between the two original sticks perpendicular to the first sticks. Angle four or five sticks across the bottom of the prairie dog hole by placing them over the bottom stick and the edge of the prairie dog hole on the other side.

Tie a long piece of twine to a weight strung over a tree limb. Tie a noose into the other end of the cord and place it on top of the trap. Tie a small trigger stick (3 to 5 inches long) connected to the noose and the trigger line, holding the tension between the trap and the tree. Place the trigger stick perpendicular to the sticks spanning the sticks in the ground right in the middle. Arrange the sticks so that the noose is very easy to trigger when the prairie dog walks over it and knocks over the support sticks.

Place a trash can lid over the trap so that the prairie dog still thinks its tunnels are complete. Allow the trap to sit for one week before moving it to a new location.


Locate the main run of the prairie dogs in your yard. Locate where the main runs attach to the side runs. This should be fairly easy because often the ground will become raised higher than the surrounding dirt where the paths are located. Mark the joining points with landscaping flags.

Dig into the marked locations with a shovel. Dig about 4 inches deeper than the bottom of the tunnel and about 6 inches wider on each side. Place a fence of chicken wire over the entrances to the tunnel, blocking the prairie dogs from entering or exiting the main tunnel.

Hammer rebar into the ground near the chicken wire to hold it tightly in place. Tie the rebar to the wire with string or twine. This will prevent the prairie dog from entering or exiting the tunnels, trapping them.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Sticks in various sizes
  • Twine
  • Chicken wire
  • Rebar
  • Landscaping flags
  • Hammer
  • Rocks
  • 5 pound weight
  • Trash can lid

About the Author


Brenda Priddy has more than 10 years of crafting and design experience, as well as more than six years of professional writing experience. Her work appears in online publications such as Donna Rae at Home, Five Minutes for Going Green and Daily Mayo. Priddy also writes for Archstone Business Solutions and holds an Associate of Arts in English from McLennan Community College.