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Monday, October 18, 2010

Using Cage Traps

by Tony Hursman

Cage traps are an important tool for catching animals and may have a place on most traplines. They will catch and hold animals alive and damage free. You may get more trapping ground by having this ability because most farmers have cats and dogs, and cage traps are by far the best traps to use when domestic animals are part of the situation. 

Cage traps come in varying sizes with a vast array of trigger styles and either drop-down doors or the swing-down style.
The drop down style door trap.

The swing down door style.
These two styles make up the majority of cage traps, but there is also the wooden box trap. The wooden traps have taken many species of fur bearers in the past.

When deciding to use cage traps you first have to look at all the different types of cages out there and decide which best suits your intended use.  For this example we will use the raccoon as our target animal. When looking for a cage trap to take coon we need to look for certain things with in the cage that would allow us to take the coon safely and with out damage to the coon or cage.

The first thing is the size of the trap. Sizes vary from 8x8x12 to 12x12x36 and other sizes throughout this range.  The best I've found for raccoon have been the 12x12x36. I like them because as the door closes, whether it be a swing down door or a slide down door, the door will close without the animal's tail being caught. This aspect alone will save you some lost animals. This size lends itself to taking the largest coon to the smallest coon. If using something smaller you may have a coon that won't fit into the trap, but if you use the larger trap that's not a concern.  Door style on the trap is a personal choice. Both work equally as well, but if you are moving and transporting the traps a drop down door trap will require more room for transport. Traps with the swing-down door style can be stacked neatly on top of each other without a problem.

I have used many types of wire on cage traps from the 1x2 through the 1/4x1/4 inch meshes. The best I've found is the 1x1 mesh. There will be more repairs with the other sizes vs the 1x1 mesh.  When deciding upon your trap wire design you want a double layer of mesh on the trigger and bait housing area with the mesh being placed so it is offset from the other mesh. This will not allow the coon to reach into the cage from the outside and set it off.  This allows you to set the bait in the very back of the cage without worrying about the coon stealing the bait without entering the cage. Another feature that comes with some cage traps are the bait doors. I highly recommend a bait door on your cage. It makes it so much easier to add or remove bait from the cage.  The following picture can be enlarged for detail.

In barns the cage trap can be set anywhere you have found some sign and or travel corridors the raccoon are using. Once you place the trap in barns or outbuildings you will need a way to secure the trap at that position.  Raccoons will roll the cages and they can push them all over the place if not secured into position.  Once the trap is secured you can apply some footing material inside the cage as this will make the trap more inviting to the animal. There is also another benefit from this practice. Once the coon is in the trap and caught he will concentrate more on destroying the materials in the trap than destroying the cage trap. You can apply material to the out side of the cage trap as well. The dark hole that is produced when covering the outside of the cage will be inviting to a raccoon. The coon seem to stay calmer when trapped in a cage covered in material, keeping the him from fighting the trap.

I like to make a food trough at the back of my cage traps. I take a 1 1/2 plastic pipe and cut it to the width of the back of the cage. Then I will cut out the center half of the pipe to make it a trough and secure it in the back of the cage.  The food or lure is placed in the trough.  Another method is to leave the trap uncovered and spread some dry cat food over the trigger and just a bit outside of the cage. This gives them a taste and forces them into the cage to retrieve the rest of food.

When setting and baiting traps outside a lot of the same principles apply. Find the raccoon trails and food sources and set the traps off to the side of trails.  I like to cover my cage traps not only to keep the trapped raccoon calmer but also to camouflage it and avoid the possibility of theft.  When using cages outside I always cover the bottom of the cage with grass or hay or pine needles. I want the bottom of the trap to match the surrounding ground, as this keeps the trap seeming more natural and inviting to the raccoon. I've found that any material covering on the bottom of the trap is always a plus for raccoon trapping. Using these techniques will produce coon in cage traps.

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