I don’t like cats. Okay, maybe that’s an understatement. I hate cats. Especially the “free range” variety that you so often find in suburban America. We lived in an area where they were becoming a real problem that animal control wasn’t able to keep up with.
I’d wake up in the middle of the night to cats fighting in the street, find cat crap in my garden and see them just about everywhere on evening walks. The time had come to take a stand.
From previous experience, I knew that cats were difficult to eliminate in urban/suburban settings where your options are limited so I did my research and settled on the Havahart live trap (model 1079-B).
I found a combo set that included a squirrel size trap (model 1078) as well, so I bought the set hoping to also reduce strawberry theft in my garden from the local tree rats that most people call squirrels.
My wife was at peace with the purchase because the animals were being relocated. She never asked any questions and I never volunteered any more information. We have an understanding…it works for us.
My first sets were nothing fancy, just laid on the porch in the backyard or in one of the garden rows. The eradication quickly became a hobby and I started researching ways to make my sets more effective.
I learned that by placing some burlap over the top of the trap and putting it against a wall or under a bush helped the animals to feel safe entering the trap. My success rates continued to climb.
I tried a number of different baits in the beginning, but canned tuna in the large trap and peanut butter in the small trap were the most successful in luring the game.
After the first month, I had captured 4 cats, 1 small dog, 2 raccoons and 1 possum in my large trap and 6 squirrels in the small trap! Over the years, I’ve even loaned these traps to family and friends to solve their critter complaints and they’ve had similar success rates.
After 10 years of ownership, both traps have continued to impress me. They have a solid door with steel reinforcements that keep even the smartest animals from escaping (I’ve never had a single animal escape). One piece wire mesh utilized in the body of the traps means there are no seams that can be exploited by the animal. Additionally, the galvanized coating on the trap body prevents rust and corrosion.
I’ve only had 2 problems with either trap: 1- Some minor bending of the spring that activates the door. This is easily bent back into place without the use of tools and with no negative effects. 2- The trigger rod and catch on the pressure plate have needed a little fine-tuning every year or so. Again
this adjustment is made by some simple metal bending (no tools needed).
The solid design on these traps incorporates a minimal amount of moving parts (read: fewer parts to break). I was also impressed with the metal hand guard near the carrying handle that keeps the captured animal from attacking your hand while being transported in the trap.
These traps are well-made (in the USA) and come with a one-year warranty. I have not had to carry out any maintenance other than the minor fixes to the spring on the door and simple adjustments to the trigger. During a decade of use, my traps have spent a considerable amount of time outdoors in both rain and snow without adverse effects. They work as well today as they did the day I bought them. I feel confident they will easily provide many more years of reliable service.
I’ve employed a good variety of traps through the years like the Conibear, coil-spring foothold and all sizes of snares. Without question, the Havahart traps are the simplest design I have ever used. They can be used in almost any application, are super easy to set and are just as portable as their more challenging cohorts.
The beauty of this variety of trap is that the animal is unharmed in any way which gives you the option of relocating the animal if
you desire. You should know that releasing an angry possum in your neighbor’s tool shed forges a bond that really stands the test of time!
Even though it’s marketed as a live trap, the Havahart gives you the option of dispatching the animal by providing a secure way to hold it until you are ready to take care of business. In restrictive urban environments, this can be accomplished with a pellet gun or by submerging the trap in a barrel of water.
Sizes and Styles
22 different sizes are available for animals as small as chipmunk and mice or as large as dogs and bobcats.
In additional to the traditional one-door traps, Havahart offers a collapsible variety, a two-door model and an Easy-Set style that makes setting and releasing a simple one-handed operation. Check out their site to learn more: http://www.havahart.com/
Cost and Availability
I cringed when I first learned the cost of these traps, but after 10 years of dependable use and given the ease of employment, I feel the price point is very reasonable. If you crunch the numbers, these traps can provide meat for your pot for pennies on the dollar.
This style of trap has been around for a long time and can sometimes be found used at flea markets or garage sales. The new variety can be found at your local farm and feed type stores or Amazon of course!
Here are some alternative traps that are available:
• Conibear or body grip style-
Pros: Inexpensive and very effective.
Cons: User needs more advanced skill to place the trap, kills the animal (no live option) and are more dangerous to set.
• Coil Spring foothold style-
Pros: Live style trap and can be very effective.
Cons: User needs more advanced skill to place the trap, the animal can be damaged by the trap or chew their leg off to escape. This style is also more dangerous to set.
Pros: Very inexpensive, easy to make your own.
Cons: User needs more advanced skill to place snare, usually kills the animal (no reliable live option).
The Bottom Line
I would highly recommend the Havahart live trap to anyone. If you are new to trapping or live in an urban or suburban environment, there is nothing easier to employ than the Havahart trap. It’s safe to use, extremely effective, quietly works for you 24 hours a day and gives you options on releasing or dispatching your catch.
They’re so user-friendly, anyone can operate these traps. Providing meat for your pot while simultaneously solving your nuisance animal issues has never been easier!
About the Author: JD is the founder of I Will Make You Hard to Kill. His site is dedicated to a wide variety of skills that improve survivability in emergency situations as well as everyday life. He is a SERE Specialist with 18 years of military service teaching aircrew and special operations personnel how to survive, evade, resist and escape at the U.S. Air Force Survival School located at Fairchild AFB, WA.
M.D. Creekmore adds: In my book 31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness I give detailed how-to-do-it plans with photos on building a homemade version of the Havahart Live Traps. I also recommend that you get a copy of Being Kind to Animal Pests: A No-Nonsense Guide to Humane Animal Control With Cage Traps.