The Only Trap You’ll Ever Need: The Havahart Live Traps an Ideal Choice for Preppers

By JD – this is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
live animal trapping

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.

live animal trapping

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.

Construction
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.

Durability
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.

live animal trapping

Ease of Use
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!

Alternatives
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.

• Snares-
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).

live animal trapping

Note: Cat was not harmed.

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.

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Comments

  1. I have no experience with traps, but have been thinking of getting one. I’d like to hear from others who have experience w/ other kinds of traps, esp if u’ve had positive experience with another kind of trap.

    • RedC,
      All traps like all guns are not the same. What is your intended use for the trap?
      What animal are you catching and for what reason?
      Catching furbearing animals for their fur, compared to rabbits for their meat, compared to raccoons that are pest will all potentially require a different device.
      As always, it is not a simple buy this one thing to fix your problem, since we don’t know the problem you’re trying to solve, so some additional thoughts on this could help any of us guide you better.

    • We have one(brand?) about the size of the larger one displayed in the article for 15 years. We don’t use it all the time. Usually for that pest that I can’t seem to draw a bead. If you want to trap coons on an ongoing basis the trap will not hold up. The coons will eventually destroy it. Dry cat food seems to catch cats, possum, skunks, and coons. Place the cat food in a used tuna tin. Any plastic type dish will be destroyed by the critter. Haven’t really tried baiting it for squirrels or rabbits. Bottom line…. they are a good investment.

      • Shootit,
        If you’re looking specifically for raccoon abatement, IMHO you just can’t beat the dog proof coon traps. A Google search for “dog proof coon trap” will find you a bunch for around $15.00 each. We purchased ours at the local Rural King. They are rugged and when baited with a marshmallow simply can’t catch anything except a raccoon. This means no false trapping of cats or skunks, which makes checking them a much more relaxed task, LOL.

  2. mom of three says:

    The sad reality of cats, are humans not spaying the female cats, every cat I’ve owned was spayed. My parents had the humane society, come out and trap seveal feral cats, a few had just had litters they were going to raise them to be able to be adopted. If you don’t get the cats under control they spiral out of control fast.

    • mom of three, i wholeheartedly agree on getting cats filed. my cats all turned out to be boys and all were snipped. they were told there would be NO one bringing a box of kittens to our house saying these belong to us.

      my county has a gune population of feral cats with several groups dedicated to helping them. there is unfortunately only so much they can do.

      if garage service stops or we can no longer get to a disposal site mice, rats and other rodents will flourish and our cats will once again have their important job to do.

    • mom of three,
      I concur. Our large herd of cats has thinned out a bit over the years; but, too often rural farms end up as dumping grounds for people who no longer want their cats. I’ve caught vehicles pulling into the driveway and then speeding off with a poor cat sitting there left behind. This irresponsible behavior is another reason the cat population has flourished in some places. Our outside cats have dwindled a bit; but, they are fed a few times a day in several places, and have plenty of buildings in which to shelter.

  3. I am not a cat fan. Fortunately about the time I had my 22 LR with suppressor and my 22 cal. pellet gun w/expansion chamber ready, they disappeared. We now only have one free-range regular (from 2 houses down) and an occational one from south of here.

    However, once we move out of town we will have other pests to contend with. With your recommendation and 10 years of quality service, these traps just went on the “when we move” list.

    Thanks!

    • Anonamo Also says:

      JP , we have one and have been equally impressed with it. In our area there are several ferral cats that are providing services for all females in the area. We have had good luck with most cats, but two are wise… too wise. Will have to try the tuna next time. Animal control services will not address any cat issues in this county.

  4. The hyperlink fairy says:

    Here’s the link to the author’s website: http://iwillmakeyouhardtokill.com/

  5. So many cats, so few recipes. Seriously though, they are edible. I had cat once and didn’t know what it was at the time. Tasted like stringy pork.
    Never pick up a feral cat as they tend to carry a nasty bacteria called pasteurella. A bite could cause a serious infection and there is also the possibility of rabies.
    One old story and I don’t know if it is true. Back in the olden days one of the popes decided that black cats were diabolical. This led the populace to start killing black cats which soon spilled over onto all cats. Cats kill rats. Cat population goes down, rat population goes up. Rats carried fleas and the fleas were carrying another nasty bacteria called the plague. Rat dies and flea looks for a new host, sometimes people.
    The plague has been estimated to have killed around half of the population of Europe. Maybe we shouldn’t be trying to eliminate the cats.

    • mom of three says:

      Agreed on that black cats still get a bad rap. A few year’s ago we had cats disappearing all over our city, they felt like we had a sick killer, or killer’s doing these creatures in. I kept a close hand to my cat. I love they usually are misunderstood but are so loyal to their people. We got another , for that very reason to help with mice control. I love to we just live in a small house, very small yard, so a , is better for us.

    • Anonamo Also says:

      to… Finish the story…That plague gave rise to 4 thieves blend in essential oil therapy. #1 lesson if you have/get rats: get some essential oils to repel the fleas. Set rat traps instead,

    • believer,

      One old story and I don’t know if it is true

      Your story is historically true, since cats, and especially black cats were thought of as Incubus of the devil, and were annihilated due to religious superstition. This in turn allowed the black rats to flourish and their fleas contained the bacterium Yersinia Pestis, also known as the black plague, although it actually causes 3 varieties of symptoms. Flea bites can cause bubonic or septicemic plague; while, inhalation can cause pneumonic plague. Today all are treatable with antibiotics and plague still shows up from time to time in our modern world, since it seems to be kept around in rodent populations without causing them harm.

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        I may be wrong, but isn’t bubonic plague a virus?

        And if so antibiotics don’t do much to a virus, they work on bacteria.

        • Chuck,
          ”isn’t bubonic plague a virus?
          No, Plague of all forms, Bubonic, Pneumonic, and Septicemic are all caused by the gram negative bacterium Yersinia Pestis. Streptomycin is the preferred antibiotic for treatment.

  6. We used to build box traps with a figure 4 trigger when I was a kid. We caught a lot of possums, raccoons and such and life was good. Then we caught a skunk. Live traps and skunks aren’t a fun mix….lol

    • tommy2rs,
      I’ve never used a figure 4 trigger for a box trap; but, have successfully used it for a dead fall more than a few times. A knife and an axe if you have one available is all you need to make this nifty set which is probably one of my favorite from scratch field expedient triggers.

      • tommy2rs says:

        It was the same basic trigger we used with our bird traps. We used it because we knew it and we figured out that it would let both doors drop at the same time. It was a PITA to set but worked great once it was. Top of the four stuck out of the box a piece of fishing line ran between the 2 doors and over the top of the 4. If the thing even twitched the doors came down. I think we were 10 at the time and started doing it because we got 50 cents for each possum or raccoon. Which was a lot more money back then…lol

        • tommy2rs,,
          I also first learned that trigger when I was about 10 or 12; but, in my case, I would build and set it just for the challenge, and to show off a bit to some of the frustrated adults who couldn’t seem to get it to work. I think I’ve always had that engineering mindset, that allowed me to visualize the interactions of components, whether it was that trigger, an electronics project, or the flow of control through software. My big downfall in that area is with larger mechanical systems that I can visualize and understand; but, can’t always seem to get tuned just right to work correctly.

    • You have to shoot the Skunk in the lungs. Works 95% of the time.

  7. anonymous says:

    If the Havahart is too expensive, you may want to take a look at the Harbor Freight live trap, which appears to be very similar to the Havahart.

    Most prey animals prefer to travel by a vertical surface for less exposure. Predator’s follow this same pattern because that is where their food is. That is probably the reason why your trap’s performance seemed to pick up.

    My Grandpa used wooden versions of these during the Great Depression. 1×8 sides, 1×6 top and bottoms, about 3′ long. Left the top with several inches over entry to protect it. One end of tube with hardware cloth nailed to it, with a hinged door suspended from top that closed against floor on INSIDE of trap so that door would not swing out when pushed from inside. Ear of corn for bait. The door is propped up against the roof with a stick, the animal’s leg usually kicked it lose, trapping the animal. Kept the family from starving for meat during some lean years.

  8. Good write up, I build homemade versions of those traps, I enarticle may have ran here a couple of years ago. If you have basic skills the first can be built in aweekend, after that a person can not out more quite quickly. Again good write up!

  9. woodchuck says:

    Have two havahart traps at small farm in central Minnesota. Always work well and as indicated, the minor fixes are easy.

  10. Gordon Rottman says:

    I have used live traps for years to control possums and raccoons, which constantly assault our chick coop. We live in a rural area outside of Houston. I dispatch them with a .22. People ask why I don’t release them somewhere else. They just become someone else’s problem. In about 10 years I’ve caught over a hundred. I dump the body in a back corner of our property where the vultures take care of them in a couple of days–no hole digging. Throwing them in a garbage can stinks in a day or so. I set the trap and sit is beside the coup fence. The critters follow the fence around looking for an opening and walk right into the trap. I don’t even bait it. I have caught a couple of squirrels and cats plus one fox. I released them. The challenge is the occasional skunk. You cannot shot them, even between the eyes as they will spray and the coup is a hundred feet from the house. It stinks for 3-4 days–I’ve tried it much to my wife’s wrath. What I have found is that skunks are docile and laid back. I wait for them to sleep, which they do all day. Very carefully and quietly I ease the gate open and prop it open with a stick of the right length. One problem is that you cannot open the gate if the skunk’s sleeping on the trigger plate. You have to come back later. Keep dogs away as they will spray barking dogs. I have even done it when the skunk awakens. They may aim their butt at me, but they seem reluctant to spray unless they have too. It feels like I’m disarming IED (which it is in a sense). Then the walk out on their own time. I have followed them far enough from the house so I can shoot them as there is a high chance they carry rabies or become infected in the future.

    • Gordon Rottman,

      It feels like I’m disarming IED

      Now that is funny; but, oh so true. I’ve never thought about it that way before; but, with care they can be released successfully.

  11. Tigerlily95 says:

    I totally understand the need for some of the animals to be put down and have no problems with that, but I am all for a quick and painless death like the gunshot to the head. Please put a dish of water into the trap along with the food so that if you don’t have time to check it every day the animal inside doesn’t die from dehydration. It would be terrible if the animal you happened to trap was your neighbors pet chihuahua that slipped out the back door and it died before you found it.

    • Gordon Rottman says:

      I agree tigerlily. We do check every day as we feed the chickens and collect eggs.

    • Tigerlily95,

      Please put a dish of water into the trap along with the food so that if you don’t have time to check it every day the animal inside doesn’t die from dehydration.

      This is unnecessary, because hunting and trapping ethics require you to check the trap or trap line at least once per day. In Ohio, it’s also the law.
      Additionally, when using other types of traps, there is no place to put food or water around, other than perhaps the bait you used.

  12. JD
    lol… releasing that possum in neighbor’s work shop did give the two of you a special bond…. the bond was him attached by putting his boot up your butt..lol
    just found two traps, looks like the ones you have, but different brand. Tractor Supply had the two for $29.99. Can’t wait to find a reason to use them.

  13. These traps work great at first but lose effectiveness quickly as, in my case, the desert pack rats & ground squirrels plaguing my gardens wised up and avoided them. I had to go back to old-fashioned spring traps.

  14. Ce in CA says:

    We have had this trap for a few years. We don’t use it all the time, but it has come in VERY handy when removing something that gets into the garden. Highly recommended.

  15. Moira McKeand says:

    Excellent article! Very enjoyable to read. I also love these traps. You have the option for how to deal with whatever you catch. That can also include releasing a neighbor’s pet, which helps keep the peace.

  16. I’m not a PRO but I do trap.
    Once you’ve done your part, the trap begins to work for you AFTER you leave the area.
    It’s one reason I like trapping. My traps work FOR me while I’m doing something else.
    Besides jaw-traps (coil & long spring), body-grip/Conibear traps and snares, I use my Live-traps all the time.
    I have a video my DW took of me turning a skunk loose that I removed using a HavaHart trap.
    ( In the video, she is heard telling me to leave the truck keys with her so she can drive while I ride in the back when I get sprayed ) Mr. StinkyButt waddled off and never looked back.
    I can say HavaHart traps are built to last.
    They come in all sizes and pay for themselves very easy.
    That said. As flexible as these traps are, they don’t and can’t cover every trapping need.

    Good article, JD.

  17. Greyhawk1970 says:

    We have a similar set that we purchased to help thin out those who were raiding our coops. Between those and the dogs treeing some at night we thinned our predator population down considerably.

    • Greyhawk1970,
      The only predators bothering our chickens were raccoons, and the dog proof Raccoon traps, called coon cuffs by a neighbor, have done the trick there, other than the few still living in the crawlspace under part of the house.

  18. Gordon Rottman says:

    Small critters living in the immediate area where the traps are may wise up, but raccoons and possums come out of the woods and they do not seem to catch on. I catch lots of them, young and old.

  19. wasatch foothills says:

    I have used a few sizes of Havaharts for more than 30 years and they’ve always worked well. This includes the x-large 1081, down to the very small 0745 trap with the drop-down sliding door. We have caught many Norway and pack rats in the little one that we never would see in the daytime, or even knew were around!
    Lately, I trapped a few of the suburban neighborhood cats and took them directly to County Animal Control. The ones I caught apparently were chipped (owners were then notified), or the neighbors went there looking for their pets, because their little darlings have all shown up shortly after to use their big litter box, a.k.a. my front and back yards. On the neighborhood Facebook page that a neighbor started a few years back, they’ve all been upset that “someone has been trapping cats, and they took mine to the animal shelter!” Well, at least you got your cat back. Years ago I wasn’t concerned if I participated in permanent pest control, but recently our lawmakers upped the ante (or tightened the screws) by making it easier to charge someone with “cruelty to animals”, and have decreed it to be a felony to harm an animal without justifiable cause, e.g., in self defense, to protect your own livestock, etc. Yet, the responsible agencies will not enforce the leash laws! In that sort of socio-political climate, I have decided to be much more careful to “look, before I leap”.
    Become familiar with your local laws if it’s cats that you may be dealing with!
    The real problem, as has been mentioned here, is the irresponsible pet owners. They let their cats run free, but refuse to believe that it’s their cat that is out cruising the neighborhood making messes, not to mention breeding.

  20. ETNRedClay says:

    I have 4 of the Tractor Supply versions of these traps (they come in pairs) and 4 wild bunnies living in the 4 large ones… I provided the licks-it water bottles and they figured it out quickly. Since bunnies like green stuff, I move them every day like a chicken tractor and have a sun shield over them. I feed them some veggie scraps as well. They are GREAT weed-eaters and grass mowers for tight spaces in my raised square foot garden bed area. LOL. And they are fertilizing the yards at the same time with poo that doesn’t need composting. They are actually friendly-ish after a fashion, eating out of my hand. When I catch something in the smaller traps, they are generally field rats and not something I want around here. FWIW what caught all four bunnies were my broccoli and cauliflower starts. Dang it. Even behind so-called rabbit fencing. I’ve “named” them George I-IV. Everyone works on the farm.

  21. We love and have cats all over the property and they are an integral part of pest control here on the farm. We have one of those trap sin a size large enough for squirrels and chipmunks and have used it on occasion; but, the cats generally take care of those annoying critters.
    The one problem you evidently didn’t encounter would be catching a skunk in your live trap. That makes a big impact the first time you see one of those.
    You also didn’t mention the dog proof coon trap, which catches and holds only raccoons that can reach into the bait tube and get their hand caught. They are generally dispatched with a .22 before disposal, and at least here in Ohio may not legally be relocated.
    I think your article title: The Only Trap You’ll Ever Need: The Havahart Live Traps an Ideal Choice for Preppers
    Would have been better as:

    The Only Trap You’ll Ever Need: The Havahart Live Traps an Ideal Choice for Urban Preppers who hate cats

    It’s handy to have one around; but, is limited in its use, at least in my rural setting.

  22. Chuck Findlay says:

    My wife was at peace with the purchase because the animals were being relocated.

    Meaning you dumped them on other people to deal with.

    Be a man and take care of the problem instead of kicking the can down the road to be a problem for someone else.

    Buy a good air rifle and kill them and solve the problem.

    I don’t go looking to kill cats or dogs, but if they become a problem because irresponsible and or lazy people don’t take care of their pets I have zero problem killing them when needed.

    A few years ago a stray cat figured out how to push the garbage cans over and tear the bags apart and make a mess. I spent a few nights watching the garbage and finally got a chance to solve the problem. I shot (and killed) the cat with my 32 mag handgun.

    Before you call me cold and heartless how about thinking about the person that lets their animal run the neighborhood at night to make problems for others. They are the problem, not people like me.

    At least I solved the problem rather then dumping it out in the country to burden other people.

    • Chuck,
      ”Meaning you dumped them on other people to deal with.”
      Amen brother. We’ve had too many cats dumped out here in our rural setting. We feed and take care of them as barn cats as well as we can; but, I have had to put down a few and out here a .22 rifle is not uncommon for that purpose.
      Dumping a cat someplace in the country simply because they already have cats is NOT a responsible action.

    • Aussie Prepper says:

      I’m with you Chuck as where I live there is a serious problem with domestic AND feral cats causing all sorts of problems with native birdlife.

      My city laws state cats are not allowed out during the hours of darkness and I figure any cat I catch without a collar is feral. If I catch one with a collar I leave it in the trap for a day at least and spray it with the hose LOTS! Then I let it go with a note inside a tiny plastic ziplock bag ziptied to the collar saying if I catch it again I will destroy it.

      I only set the traps at night and true ferals are usually easy to spot – they hiss and spit something fierce and they get no sympathy, it’s a one way ride for them.

      Aussie

  23. Having this trap makes perfect sense even if to keep put away as a prep in case food runs low in a teotwatki aftermath.

    I can’t imagine trying to snare a small critter because its hard to do, but this is like set it and forget it. Maybe you would never need it but like any other prep it would be nice to have in case you do.

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  25. Gordon Rottman says:

    On one of the large traps, and it was quality built, a ‘coon bent the long trigger rod linkage made of an almost 1/4-inch diameter steel rod to the point that it could not be used. It could not be repaired without completely taking it apart. Those critter’s strength can surprise you.

  26. Encourager says:

    We had a HavaHart trap that was destroyed by a large raccoon. My dh fixed it and added a sharpened piece of steel so that when the next one pushed his butt against the door trying to bust it out, it would hurt and he would quit. It worked! However, we switched to the trap that is a little tube anchored into the ground with a piece of rebar. You put sunflower seeds in the bottom. When the raccoon sticks his paw in to get the seeds, it springs a snare and the paw is caught. We find them sitting and waiting for us the next day. We do not release them back in the wild as they would beat us back to the house. We have so many raccoons around here that one night we counted six on the deck trying to swing the bird feeders off the hanging pole.

  27. Chuck Findlay says:

    I just picked up an off-brand cage like this at The Good Will this morning. It was $8.00, works good and for the price I can use it at customers homes (this is where I use these traps the most, for customers) to get rid of pest without worrying about the loss of an expensive trap.

    MD a question:

    Where did the tabs go to highlight , quote words in a post? They are gone and were / are handy.

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