Place and set up your traps and bait stations

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  9. Place and set up your traps and bait stations

Location tips

  • Consider what’s in your area. If you’ve got special non-target species like kiwi, kea and weka, you need to take this into account to prevent them from harm.
  • Introduced species, such as pigs or wallabies, can interfere with your equipment, so trap placement and securing your traps will be important.
  • When placing a trap or bait station, look for areas that introduced predators are likely to visit, including linear paths such as fence lines, tracks, paths, ridges, rivers and bridges.
  • Look for well-worn areas where animals are travelling through, also known as pad runs, or where the bush or trees have signs of possum damage (eg. bite barks on bark etc).
An image of a trap in native bush
Trap placement should be carefully considered. Image credit: PFNZ
  • Installing multiple devices at one site can make it more attractive for introduced predators and also make it easier for servicing. For example, place a stoat/rat trap and a possum trap at the same site. 
  • Place bait stations on larger, sturdier trees so they are not lost through weather events.
  • Don’t place traps in cool, wet or damp places, like gullies, as most animals won’t visit these places. Instead, place traps in sunny, dry locations, like spurs and ridges.
  • Ferrets are often found along roads as they like to scavenge road kill. Try placing traps in verges and culverts along road edges. Ferrets often thrive along the edges of farmland due to rabbits, so protect bush blocks by placing devices along the boundary between farmland and bush. 
  • Possums love pine pollen catkins on old Pinus Radiata trees, so these make great trap and bait station sites in the spring. 
  • Don’t underestimate scent trails – lots of animals will travel along the same path in the bush. Once one animal starts to visit a location, they leave a scent trail, and other predators are attracted to the same place to have a look. So if you are targeting stoats then rats, possums and hedgehogs visiting a site will create interest for the stoat.
  • Make sure traps are placed parallel to trails. For traps in tunnels, make sure introduced predators have a clear line of sight through the trap (mesh at both ends of the trap allows this) by weeding or clearing any debris.   
  • If your trapping isn’t working, mix up your methods with these ideas (video).

Preparing your trap/bait station site

A Flipping Timmy possum trap mounted on a tree with white flour paste below it. In the background people are walking through the bush.
Sweet flour paste for luring possums. Image credit: PFNZ
  • Make the site really appealing and easy for introduced predators to interact with. Most catches occur in the first few days after they’re serviced when the bait is fresh.
  • Scuffing the ground around a trap or bait station site creates interest and will encourage introduced predators to investigate your site.
  • Clear around the trap entrance and remove grass from around bait stations to prevent bait from going mouldy.
  • Use logs, ferns or similar to create a line to direct animals to the entrance of your trap or bait station.
  • Creating a ramp up to possum traps can make them effective by giving the possum a place to perch while they investigate the trap. For Philproof bait stations, attaching a rope to the front of the bait station makes it easier for rats to access the bait. The added benefit of this is that the rats don’t chew through the plastic trying to get the bait.
  • Make sure traps are solidly bedded down to minimise movement (and accidental firing). Using a spade, level the trap location in the shape of the box, push the box back and forth into soil, and then stand on top of it to push it down well. A large rock on top of the trap helps weigh it down too. You can use a reinforcing bar to secure traps to the ground to make them stable – this is useful if you have pigs visiting your area.
  • Leave a few tasty treats, such as crumbs of mutton fat or dollops of peanut butter, outside your trap entrance.
  • Create a possum hotspot (think of it as a nightclub!) by unsetting traps for a while and pre-feeding. 
  • Christmas cake mix with crystallised ginger is a good pre-feed for possums if you are then going to use Feratox, as the Feratox is also a bit crunchy.
  • Blaze (put a line along a branch or trunk) scented flour as a visual lure (white flour is really easy to see in the bush at night) and throw flour around the trap site to create interest and attract predators to the area. Introduced predators then take the scent away on their paws, in their fur and on their breath, communicating the food source to others.
A24 rat trap and bait station attached to a native tree.
A24 rat trap and bait station attached to a native tree. Image credit: jacqui-nz (iNaturalistNZ)