Trapping Safely

Cage Traps

This page contains resources on strategies to use box traps safely and responsibly to prevent injury to humans, domestic animals, and wildlife.

Many people mistakenly call a cage or box trap a “live trap.” The does not use this terminology because the term “live trap” is misleading and vague. It is vague and misleading because people assume that if a trap doesn’t look like a box then it must be a “kill trap.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, most traps are “live traps” including, footholds, Collarum traps, snares, Belisle footsnare, Egg Trap, Duffer trap, and a wide variety of other limb restraint traps.

Box traps come in two main varieties, solid wall and wire wall.

Plastic Catch solid wall trap. Photo by Alan Huot.
Solid wall trap, called a box trap.
Cage trap, photo by SafeGuard.
Wire-walled trap, called a cage trap.

Dangers of Cage Trapping

1. Getting scratched or bitten – as animal reaches through the cage.

2. Getting sprayed – when you are unprepared for the possibility of catching a skunk (to learn how to prepare for and/or handle trapped skunks see Releasing Skunks from Cage/Box Traps)

3. Contracting infection – cages have sharp edges, which can break the skin and expose it to the urine and fecalĀ  contamination on the wire.

4. Parasite exposure – fleas, ticks, lice, worms, and other organisms can move from the animal to the trapper.

Strategies to Reduce Risks when Cage Trapping

1. Wear Personal Protection

  • Sturdy leather glovesĀ  Gloves to protect oneself while trapping
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Long pants
  • Shoes that fully cover the feet. No flip flops.
  • Insect repellent, such as DEET, is recommended.

2. Select the right trap. Like automobiles, some traps offer more safety features than others.

  • Use professional, high-quality equipment. See Product Suppliers for WDM for ideas of key words to use for online searches.
  • Box traps, with their solid walls, significantly reduce the risk of getting scratched or bitten. However, they will hold urine and feces on the floor of the trap, requiring cleaning.
  • Cage traps with tight mesh walls, 1/2-inch by 1-inch weave, significantly reduces an animal’s ability to reach through the wire when compared to a 1-inch by 1-inch weave. However, traps with the the smaller mesh size are more expensive due to the increased amount of material.
  • Consider traps with large handle guards (over 4 inches wide by 6-inches long).
  • Traps with large handles (over three inches tall) allow for greater distance between the trap and one’s hand.
  • Gravity door traps (those traps that open automatically when rolled over) should have their doors wired shut prior to moving the trapped animal.Cage trap with labels on parts.

3. Proper Use of Traps

  • Always cover at least 50% of the cage trap with a cloth. Box traps don’t need to be covered.
  • Box traps hold heat better than cage traps and therefore should be used with greater caution in the warmer months to help protect the animal from overheating.
  • Understand how to use your equipment BEFORE you begin trapping.
  • Check traps every single day they are set!!! This means, weekends, holidays, etc.
  • Always follow all government regulations for handling wildlife. Consult your government laws at State Agencies.
  • Have a plan for how you will handle your catch (BEFORE) you begin trapping!!!
  • Make sure your tetanus vaccination is up to date.
  • If you become ill within 6 weeks of your trapping efforts, tell your doctor that you were working with wildlife.

4. Additional Training