How to Make a Pitfall Trap

Written by timothy baron
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How to Make a Pitfall Trap
One of the many creatures you might find with a pitfall trap. (lizard` image by royaroir from

There are more animals in your yard than you're aware of, ranging from insects to small reptiles and rodents. Many of these only come out at night or are stealthy enough to hide whenever you come near in the daytime. In order to see these animals, you'll either have to be lucky or you'll have to catch them. A pitfall trap is easy to make and will reveal many of the smaller creatures you never would have noticed.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Pot, bucket or other small container
  • Rocks
  • Lid

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  1. 1

    Scout the terrain looking for a good place to lay your trap. Different areas will attract or house unique animal species. Many prefer places where they can hide, such as beneath dead leaves. Try burying your first trap there.

  2. 2

    Select a pitfall container at least five inches deep. Choose one made from glass, plastic or polished metal with a smooth interior surface. Some creatures will be able to climb out of clay pots or containers with perforated surfaces.

  3. 3

    Dig a hole large enough to hold your pitfall container. The lip of the container should be flush with the ground. Insert the container into the hole, filling any gaps with dirt.

  4. 4

    Place four stones in a square formation around your container. The stones should be roughly the same size.

  5. 5

    Rest the lid on the stones so that it covers the hole, protecting it from rain, sunlight and debris. The lid could be anything from a sheet of ply-board to the lid of an ice cream bucket. If the lid is made of a light material, place another stone on top of it to keep it from blowing away.

  6. 6

    Remove the lid the next morning and dig the container out of the ground, careful not to spill its contents. Inside you will find the creatures your pitfall trap ensnared.

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