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Tunnel trap tips 'n' tricks

Tunnel trap tips 'n' tricks

Updated 9 August 2019 1:16pm

Use these tips 'n' tricks to effectively control stoats, weasels, and ferrets (mustelids), hedgehogs and rats using tunnel traps.

Successful trapping is all about location

  • Place the trap on flat ground as some animals don’t like entering boxes that move. Secure with pegs or a heavy object if needed
  • Clear weeds from around the trap ends. This allows for access and air flow through the box, keeping the bait fresher for longer

Carpet under the trap keeps the trap clear of weeds

  • Create a path to the trap entrance to attract attention and lure pests to the trap. Freshly cleared ground will also attract them

Fresh grubbed tracks through long grass to the trap

Set, bait and secure

Set and bait the trap when it is in a stable location.

  • Wear gloves as some pests are put off by human scent
  • Use fresh bait like meat and eggs. Avoid meat if cats are present or add a small tunnel or small block of wood inside the entrance so a cat can’t reach the trap with its paws
  • Place fresh bait on the elevated cradle which is higher than the trigger plate and in full view
  • Screw down the lid so it can’t be easily interfered with

Image credit: Predator Free Mount Cook Newtown

Service and maintenance

  • Remove and discard all old bait away from the trap. Replace with fresh bait.
  • Dispose carcasses by burying or wrapping in newspaper and putting in household rubbish, and record the catches
  • Clear any weeds from around the trap box
  • Check wire mesh holes are smooth with no sharp points
  • Note the condition of the trap and anything that needs to be fixed
  • Check the trigger plate is level
  • Test the trap by lowering the trigger slowly and adjusting if needed. The ideal weight to trigger the plate is 70-100grams

Extra for experts

If you are managing a number of traps or want to improve your catch rate:

  • Attach a tag to a tree near the trap to help find it for servicing and maintenance.  Number the traps and keep a record the location.
  • Carry a basic tool kit when you service traps: square head screwdriver, wire brush, safety clip, gloves. Tie a bright ribbon around the tools to help locate them.
  • Use prefeed bait and lay a scent trail by dragging a rabbit carcass around near the entrance
  • Add some bait variety to a network of traps throughout the year. Try these baits and locations for stoats:
Bait type Effectiveness Field life
Fresh rabbit Strong positive 1-2 weeks
Salted rabbit Strong positive 4 weeks
Dehydrated rabbit Strong positive 4-6 weeks
Fish Moderate positive 1-2 weeks
Processed meat Moderate positive 2 weeks
Pricked egg Slight 2 weeks
Egg Slight 12 weeks
Location Effectiveness
Water courses ( stream and rivers ) Strong positive
Offal pits and dump sites Strong positive
Bridges Strong positive
Pipes, drains and culverts Strong positive
Farm building, hay sheds and woolsheds Strong positive
Small animal runs Strong positive effect
Fence lines with vegetation cover Strong positive effect
Stock carcasses Strong positive effect
Farm vehicle tracks Moderate effect
Tree plantation boundary Moderate effect
Stock tracks Moderate effect
Wood piles, bulldozed rubbish heaps Moderate effect
Vegetation cover (gorse and scrub) Moderate effect
Gullies Moderate effect
Foot or base of hills Moderate effect
Tussock/developed farmland Moderate effect
Large tracks of forestry Slight positive effect
Yards Slight positive effect
Fence lines without cover Slight positive effect
Stock feed or crops Neutral effect
Hay paddocks Avoid
Long rank grass Avoid

More information

DOC - Trap predators in your backyard

Predator Free New Zealand

For more detailed advice contact us