(by Warwick Mitchell)
The trap design is extremely simple, consisting of two plastic ends, one not unlike a flower pot, the other just a cap. Both ends have doors, one is lockable, the other swings freely from two hinges and relies on gravity for closure.
The centre portion of the trap consists of a rolled piece of wire netting, held firmly in place by plastic straps that press together. The ends are then attached using nylon one-way fasteners. All in all a set of five traps which come unassembled in a carton can be put together in about 10-15 minutes. Once assembled they are left in this state for future use and transport.
The basic theory of the trap is to insert the conical "flower pot" end with the hinged door into the burrow of a rabbit warrenand catch the cony as he attempts to leave.
Sounds simple, but there are other points to consider. The trap must be firmly embedded in the burrow so as to form a reasonably tight fit. The tapered entrance cone assists this.
Every exit hole and burrow in the entire warren must be either filled with a trap or blocked. This includes some often well disguised "pop-holes" that rabbits can escape from. In a larger warren it is not practical to carry enough traps to fit every hole, so some other means must be found.
Simply filling in the hole with dirt is less than satisfactory because it only represents a temporary barrier to the rabbits and they easily dig it out. I have used large sticks and branches packed in tight with reasonably good results, rocks are similar, but all these things can be burrowed around. Newspaper seems to work well as a burrowing deterrent to block warrens when put in front of earth fill, but the best thing of all seems to be wool. Yes, a bit of greasy old, daggy wool from around the grazier's woolshed is extremely effective as a burrowing deterrent. Generally any old cast lines, useful for little else or even the wool plucked from a dead sheep works very well. It seems the wool gets entangled in the rabbit's claws and this greatly reduces its ability to dig.
Six Friendly Rabbit Traps were taken into a freshly used warren. The traps were placed in the most frequently used burrows and all the others were blocked. It is important that the top of the trap is upwards, otherwise the gate fails to operate correctly.
The following morning, no rabbits had been caught and no exits had been breeched, however it had been raining after a long dry spell and this may have upset the rabbit's routine.
Returning the following morning, one young rabbit was caught, and a burrow that had just been filled with earth had been breeched. We also discovered a pop-hole that we had not seen previously.
With all the holes blocked properly, the following morning three rabbits had been trapped in different traps. Also of interest was a large feral cat sitting beside one of the traps, however, all of the rabbits were uninjured.
One further point to note. If you remove the trap from the burrow, do not let it roll around on the ground. A rabbit moving in a trap will roll it over on flat ground. If the trap rolls up-side-down, the door swings open and away goes the bunny, as we found out!
The efficiency of the trap is greatly improved if a familiarisation period is used. That is, leave both doors of the trap tied open for a few days. The rabbits become used to running through them, then when the doors are closed, a much higher success rate is achieved. Each trap will hold at least four rabbits.
Friendly Rabbit Traps can be used in conjunction with ferrets. Though I have not tried this, I am told they are very useful for catching a lazy ferret that will not surface. Just leave the traps in place and come back later as the trap will catch the ferret. The traps have also been known to catch many other animals including small foxes, cats and possums.
There is no doubt that this "new" rabbit trap is a better rabbit trap and with a little practice and experience very effective results can be achieved. Friendly Rabbit Traps also produce a very "clean" (no bruising of flesh damage) carcass if you like eating bunnies.
(This article appeared
in the October-December 1994 edition of "Guns & Game Magazine")
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