Trapping #1

Trapping is more of an art than a skill. One needs to understand certain principles about mouse behavior, about woodland wildlife, and a bit of common sense and intuitive understanding of the animal mind. I use small Sherman traps in this study. A biology grad student trapped with me throughout the trapping period. The procedure for trapping begins with a pre-baiting period. Pre-baiting sets the traps so that mice are able to go in and out of the traps without being captured. This allows the mice to become more familiar with the traps and go deeper and deeper inside. Also, mice tend to return to places that food was found previously. Pre-baiting is done for 3 nights. After the third night, the traps are set to trap and capture the mice. This trapping period is done for 4 nights. Three nights of pre-baiting and four nights of trapping constitutes the trapping week.

The biology graduate student I am trapping with had already trapped in the winter season. At first she used Sherman traps alone, but soon after starting, she encountered an omnivorous raccoon that would carry traps away and even open and eat the mice trapped inside. As a result, additions and modifications were added to prevent the raccoon(s) from messing with the traps and the mice. The main modification came in the form of a drainage tube. A black drainage tube varying from 3 to 5 feet in length was used as a cage for the Sherman traps. To hold the trap in place, two methods were created. One utilized metal pins made from thick steel wire and another using chicken wire to cover the openings of the tube. After the winter season, it was determined that the wire type was easier to manage as well as more effective at deterring raccoons. The raccoons would actually rip the chicken wire off or rip a hole in the chicken wire. The pin style was not infallible either in that the raccoons have a few times taken the pins out. Nonetheless, in both styles, the raccoons would get so bad that even though the traps remained inside of the tube, the tube would get shaken and beaten on making the traps close and preventing the mice from getting inside. To prevent the tubes from being disturbed, a stake was attached with a wire. By staking the tube to the ground, a raccoon would have a harder time shaking and lifting it keeping the trap from closing.

So in summary, trapping occurs with 3 nights pre-baiting and four trapping. Specially modified traps are used to prevent disturbances from raccoons.IMG_2386