Trapping 101

In this section, Havahart® provides general live animal trapping information. You’ll find an overview of how to trap animals, different trap types, and answers to your most common animal trapping questions!

Trapping 101

How to Trap a Wild Animal

This page is a great place to become familiar with how to use live animal traps to solve your nuisance animal problem. For animal-specific trapping advice, select your animal on the Animal How-To Page »

Understand Your Problem

1 Understand Your Problem

The first step is to identify the size and type of animal that is wreaking havoc on your property. You do this by taking a look at the damage that is occurring - for example:

  • If the tops of plants are being eaten, it is most likely a deer-sized animal, which can reach these areas. Deer damage can be found as high as 6 feet up the plant.
  • Rodents are known to dig tunnels and gnaw on barks and roots.
  • Groundhogs are famous for chewing anything and everything to sharpen their teeth. Burrow holes and dirt mounds are major clues to the presence of a groundhog.
  • Trashcans tipped over point to an aggressive mid-sized animal such as a raccoon.
  • Rabbits will eat just about anything. You can identify rabbit damage by 45-degree angled cuts on the end of stems and leaves.

TIP: Most animals are nocturnal. Check at dusk to see if you can spot the animal in areas where you are noticing damage.

2 Select a Live Trap

A live animal trap should be large enough so that the majority of the animal's body can fit inside before reaching the trigger plate (not including the tail). Additionally, the trap should be small enough as to not allow for too much extra space for the animal to move around (see general guidelines below).

Live animal traps vary not only in size, but also in number of doors, ease of use, and other helpful features. To learn more about the different traps available, read Trap Types »

Place Your Trap

3 Place Your Trap

Place your trap along your animal's travel path, outside its den or burrow, or in the area where you observe animal activity. For best results, position your trap:

  • in a fairly quiet area; far from people and pets
  • close to a water source (unless indoors)
  • on a flat, level surface
  • along a wall or fence line (if available, most animals will travel along this type of guide)
Select and Position Bait

4 Select and Position Bait

Use food to strategically lure your animal inside the trap.

  • Select: All animals have different tastes, so pick a food that your animal will like. For help choosing a bait, select your target animal from the Havahart® Animal How-To page.
  • Position: While selecting a bait is important, positioning your bait is key to success. Place your bait in a way that will force the animal to step on the trigger plate (see diagrams to the right).

To learn more about baiting a live trap, read How to Bait »

Set Your Trap

5 Set Your Trap

Carefully set the doors to the open position. Each trap sets differently, so make sure you follow your trap's unique instructions. (For help setting a Havahart® trap, visit the trap's product page or the Havahart® YouTube Channel to see the step-by-step video instructions.)

This step may take some patience. Depending on your animal's activity and personality, it could take anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days to make a catch.

Check Your Trap Frequently

6 Check Your Trap Frequently

The longer an animal is trapped, the longer it will grow anxious, frightened, and hungry. It is very important to check on your trap periodically to ensure your animal does not remain inside the cage for an elongated period of time.

This step may take some patience. Depending on your animal's activity and personality, it could take anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days to make a catch.

You've Caught an Animal!

7 You've Caught an Animal!

  • Be gentle and speak softly when approaching and handling the trap.
  • Wear gloves and hold the trap away from your body to protect yourself from contact with the animal.
  • Cover the trap with a blanket or cloth to keep the animal calm.
  • If local laws permit, release the animal at least 5 miles away.
  • After letting the animal go, disinfect the cage with a bleach solution to remove your scent and prevent the spreading of germs.

TIP: To disinfect your trap, create a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts of water. Apply the solution, and wait 20 minutes before wiping down the trap.

Expert Tips

  • For more animal-specific instructions and trapping tips, select your animal from the Havahart® Animal How-To Page.
  • Many wild animals can carry diseases, so be sure to take the proper precautions when handling a trap.
  • Understanding your animal's habits and preferences will help you catch it sooner. For example, if your animal is nocturnal, you should set your trap at dusk and close it in the morning to avoid catching unwanted critters. Havahart® offers all of the information you need to learn about your target animal so that you can more effectively take control.
  • Gloves are important throughout all stages of animal trapping. Not only do they protect you from contact with an animal, but also they prevent you from transferring your scent onto the cage - which could otherwise make animals suspicious and wary of entering.
  • Anchor your trap by placing a brick or weight on top of it so an animal cannot knock it over to steal the bait. Alternatively, if you are using a very small trap, you may be able to tie it down or stake it into the ground. Anchoring your trap will also prevent the trap from rattling and startling the animal when it enters, which is important for exceptionally skittish creatures.
  • A shiny, new trap can produce a glare that might be off-putting to wary animals. Reduce this glare by camouflaging your trap with mud, sticks, leaves and anything else that naturally occurs in the area in which you set your trap. When camouflaging your trap, do not to let any materials get in the way of the trigger and close mechanism.
  • When seeking a location for your trap, pay attention to the availability of nearby cover; some animals will not stray far from this kind of protection, while others prefer to be out in the open.
  • Allow your animal to become comfortable with the trap before you set it up for a catch. Tie or prop open your trap door(s) so that it cannot trigger closed, and place some bait inside. Perhaps create a trail of bait that leads to the trap as well. When you notice the bait inside the trap has been eaten, remove the ties or prop so that the next time your animal enters, the doors will close.
  • Once you successfully trap an animal, keep it out by reducing attractants, repelling and excluding - all part of an effective integrated control plan.

Visit Our
Canadian Store