How to Use Live Traps

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Keith's Pro Tips

"Place a brick on top of your live trap when placing it in your desired area. This will ensure that animals will not knock the trap over."

How to Use Live Traps

This page is a general live trapping guide. Using the products and methods suggested, you will effectively trap animals. Follow this guide, use the recommended products, and we guarantee 100% success with live trapping. 

There are many treatment options when it comes to general animal control. Some people may want to control animals wandering in their house or in their yard but do not want to use poison, glue boards, or snap traps. Live trapping is a safe and efficient method of animal control. The animal is captured in the live trap and can easily be relocated away from your property unharmed.

Be sure to check with your local animal control before releasing an animal.

If you want to get rid of animals in or around your home using a live trap, follow this DIY guide for product recommendations and instructions for effective control.


It is important to know the type of animal you are dealing with. This information will help determine what size of live trap you need, what you need to bait with, as well as where you will need to place the trap.


Some of the most common unwanted animal activity that people experience is from raccoons, opossums, rabbits, squirrels, and gophers. Identifying your particular pest animal can sometimes be tricky, but you can tell different animals apart by their eating and living habits. Noting the size, shape, and arrangement of droppings can also help with identification. For instance, if you're seeing piles of droppings that look similar to dog feces, the animal could be a raccoon or opossum. If you find small, capsule-like droppings scattered around the yard or in the attic, it could be a squirrel.

Most common wild animals are nocturnal, so you will notice most activity after it gets dark. Animals like raccoons, opossums, and rats or mice will usually forage at night in yards, garages, attics, or basements. If activity is seen or heard during the day, it is most likely a squirrel, chipmunk, or groundhog.

Pay attention to whether or not you see nesting. These are most likely created by rodents. Groundhogs will have most of their activity near items that will sharpen their teeth, such as tree trunks. They will also create dirt mounds and burrow holes. Raccoons are typically more aggressive and will knock over heavier items such as trash cans for food.


After correctly identifying the animal you are dealing with, search for areas where they are most active in or near your property. This will determine where you will set your live traps.

Gopher in Yard

Where to Inspect

If you have any plants, fruits, or vegetables growing on your property, animals will typically be in this area. Animals will also generally be in areas that are well-hidden and dark with little human activity. You may also see signs of foraging activity in areas like garages that store pet food, around water and food bowls for outdoor pets, or around trash cans.

What to Look For

If the animals are inside your property, search for nests and burrows, as well as droppings. If the animals are active enough on your property, the grass might leave a path where they commonly step or you might even see where grass is tamped down in areas where the animals rest. Check for unusual disturbances around trash cans or where there is pet food. Also look for any damage to vegetation, such as gnawed plant stems and trunks, eaten or disturbed fruits and vegetables, eaten or chewed leaves, or broken plant limbs.


Live traps are ready-to-use products that come in different sizes. Your trap should be big enough for most of the animal's body to fit before triggering the plate. However, it should not be large enough for the animal to move around. This is to prevent the animal from potentially destroying or escaping from the trap. Be sure to wear gloves when using or handling the live trap to avoid spreading human scent. If animals smell a human's scent, they will avoid that area.

Step 1 - Place the Cage in High-Activity Areas

Live Trap in Wild

The stations should be placed near areas with high animal activity that you noted during the inspection step, and that is relatively quiet with little activity from humans or pets. This is usually at the edge of the property, near dense foliage or gardens, or near food and water sources. If possible, place the trap on a flat, level surface in a shaded area. This will prevent animals from being exposed to too much direct sunlight and overheating.

Step 2 - Baiting the Station

Live Trap Bait

The bait you will use in the live trap will depend on the animal you want to catch. Desirable bait would be marshmallows for raccoons, cabbage for rabbits, peanuts for squirrels or chipmunks, cantaloupe for groundhogs, and either a squished banana or a honeybun with the wrapper open for skunks or possums. It is not recommended to use strong-scented bait such as canned fish, as stray cats or neighborhood pets might find this appealing. For a simpler option or if you are trying to capture a variety of animals, peanut butter works well as it is cheap, easy to work with, and liked by many animals.

No matter which bait you choose, it is important that it is placed behind the trap's trigger plate. This will make sure that the animal will put the majority of its body in the trap, and that they will step on the trigger plate as they work their way toward the bait. It can also be helpful to place bait around the trap's entrance to gain the animal's trust and lead them into the trap.

Step 3 - Set the Trap

Live Trap

Be careful when setting the trap to avoid pinching your fingers. With two hands, open the trap door 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 it is set when the trigger arm's hook catches the door. The door should be held open and is now ready for wild animals to enter. Place your bait at the end of the trap, behind the trigger plate.

Step 4 - Monitor the Live Trap


Check traps twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening. Constantly being near the trap and checking it often will potentially dissuade animals from approaching the trap. Do not keep an animal trapped for more than 24 hours. 

Step 5 - Safely Relocate the Animal

Raccoon in Cage

Release any non-target animals immediately. Once you have captured your desired animal in your live trap, check your local animal control to make sure you are correctly relocating the animal. Place a towel over the cage to avoid frightening the animal. Carefully open the trap and release the animal.


After you've successfully used your live trap, there are a few preventative measures you can take to make sure you do not have another animal problem.


Cleaning Products

Maintaining a clean area indoors and outdoors is an important step to take. Keep trash outdoors and in a can closed with a lid. Remove any clutter or desbris from your property, as this could be used by animals for nests or burrows. Any potential food sources such as pet food should be properly sealed in a container and stored away. Regularly check the property for spots that retain water.


Stuf Fit

To avoid animals from entering your home, be sure to check the foundation for cracks and crevices. These can be sealed with Stuf-Fit Copper Mesh and caulk. Stuf-Fit is a breathable material that many animals cannot chew through. It will not rust and can be stuffed into cracks and crevices before sealing with caulk. Repair any voids or openings around the home or structure, such as damaged screens around windows or basement wells, and damaged or dilapidated fences.

Key Takeaways

  • Successful trapping begins with successful identification. Do your best to correctly identify your animal pest as this will determine which size live trap you will need, and the bait type and placement.
  • Do your best to inspect the property for signs of animal activity so that you can get a sense of where the animals travel, harbor, or forage. This will help you determine where to place the live trap for effective control.
  • The Solutions Live Trap comes in three different sizes and should be large enough for the majority of the animal's body to fit in the cage, but not too big to where it can roam around. Bait the station with the specific bait for the animal you're trying to catch, or peanut butter. Place the station in a shaded area.
  • Check on the stations once during the day and once at night. Refill bait when necessary until activity ceases.
  • Prevent animals from entering your home with Stuf-Fit Copper Mesh and caulk, while maintaining a clean property to avoid animals using your clutter for nests or foraging for food.
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