How to Catch a Porcupine with a Live Trap

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How to Catch a Porcupine with a Live Trap

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"Be sure to keep your pets away from a porcupine. Their sharp quills can potentially injure your furry friends."

How to Catch a Porcupine with a Live Trap

Porcupines are large, slow, and relatively docile animals. However, once provoked, they will become aggressive and defend themselves with their sharp quills. Porcupines love salt and mainly consume bark, which puts your trees, vegetation, and outdoor wood furniture at risk. One method of removing a porcupine from your property is using a live trap to catch and release the animal. Live trapping is a safe and effective way to keep animals away from your home.

If you want to catch a porcupine with a live trap, read this guide for instructions and product recommendations.


Before using a live trap, you need to make sure that the wild animal you are dealing with is a porcupine. This will ensure that you are using the correct bait and strategies.

Porcupine Isolated

Porcupines have sharp quills covering their body to protect themselves from predators. These needles can be several inches long. Porcupines are generally 25 to 36 inches long with an 8 to 10 inch tail. Their color is generally either brown, gray, or white. They normally weigh between 12 and 35 pounds and are slow-moving animals.

Porcupines are nocturnal animals and are able to climb trees. They mainly feed on tree bark but will also eat twigs, leaves, fruits, berries, and nuts. They are not aggressive, but are dangerous when confronted due to their sharp needles. Take caution when approaching or handling this animal.

Use the image and description above to confirm that you are dealing with a porcupine on your property.


Once you've confirmed that your pest animal is a porcupine, it is helpful to recognize the areas where it is most active. This is where you will place your live trap.

Where to Inspect

You want to pick areas that have high activity from porcupines. They will most likely spend time in trees to chew wood, but have a great sense of smell and are attracted to other food sources such as salty food or pet food. Areas with vegetation will most likely be spots where porcupines are most active. If your property has several trees, these are hot spots for porcupines.

What to Look For

Because porcupines are nocturnal animals, any damage will be done at night. There are certain signs that signal porcupine activity, such as gnawed tree trunks, damaged gardens, and porcupine tracks. The front feet will have four toes with claws and the hind feet will have five toes with claws. You will also want to check near the base of the tree for porcupine droppings, which will look like several small pellets.


Now that you've identified your pest animal as a porcupine and taken note of areas where it is most active, you can use your live trap. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the trap to prevent leaving your scent. If a porcupine picks up a human scent on the trap, it will avoid the trap, which will make it ineffective.

Step 1 - Remove Food Sources


You want the porcupine to enter the live trap with the help of bait. Because of this, competing food sources need to be removed. Keep your trash sealed in trash bags and stored in trash bins with a lid to keep it closed. Any pet food or bowls of water should be placed inside as soon as possible.

Step 2 - Place the Trap

Live Trap in Wild

By now, you should have taken note of areas with high porcupine activity. These areas are where you will put your trap. Be sure to place your trap on an even surface. A porcupine might push or knock over the trap in order to reach the bait inside. Place a brick or weight on top of the trap to avoid this.

Step 3 - Bait and Set the Trap

Trap Trigger

Using the proper bait will increase your chances of catching a porcupine. Porcupines love salt and fruit, so apples with salt on them will be a perfect porcupine attractant. The bait should be placed near the back of the trap. This ensures that the porcupine will need to step on the trigger plate in order to reach the food.

You will then set your trap by pushing on the door lock and lifting the door plate. Keep the door plate lifted while pulling the trigger arm forward to set it. You will know when it is set when the trigger arm's hook catches the door.

Step 4 - Monitor the Trap


You will need to check the traps twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening. This is when you will refill bait if needed. Checking the trap frequently may dissuade porcupines from approaching the trap. Do not keep an animal trapped in the cage for longer than 24 hours.

Step 5 - Relocate the Porcupine

Any non-target animals should be released immediately. Once you have captured a porcupine in your live trap, check your local authorities to make sure you are correctly relocating the animal. Approach the trap slowly and use a gentle voice. Place a towel over the cage to avoid frightening the porcupine. It is important to protect yourself with padded clothing and gloves to prevent being injured from a porcupine. Once you have relocated far enough, carefully open the trap and release the animal. You can read more about releasing an animal from a live trap here.


After using your live trap, you want to make sure that wild animals do not invade your property again. You can take some preventative measures to keep your area porcupine-free.


Cleaning Products

The porcupine's advanced sense of smell means that it will be drawn to trash and other food sources such as pet food along with fruit and bark. Be sure to place all waste in a trash can, preferably with a lid so it can be kept closed. Remove all clutter and debris from your property, since porcupines may be drawn to search these areas for food. Any potential food or water sources, especially pet food, should be properly sealed in a container and stored indoors.


 Cage in Woods

If your property is near a wooded area and you have no fencing, you may be susceptible to having porcupines and other wild animals invade your property. Consider blocking off your property with some fencing.

To avoid porcupines from destroying your trees, keep a live trap at the base of the tree. Once caught, safely relocate the porcupine as instructed above.

Key Takeaways

  • Porcupines are nocturnal animals. They are covered with sharp quills to use as a defense mechanism against predators. Porcupines are great climbers and have a good sense of smell. They can be aggressive when provoked.
  • Use apples with salt to bait the trap, making sure it is placed behind the trigger plate of the trap.
  • Check the trap once in the morning and once in the evening. Once a porcupine is caught, check with your local authorities to make sure you safely and correctly relocate it.
  • Prevent porcupines from invading your property again by removing any potential food sources and trash, as well as keeping a live trap on the base of your tree.
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