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 ICWDM.org 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.
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 fecal 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 gloves
- 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.
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.