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MOLE TRAP REVIEW

Surely a mole trap is a mole trap so why have a review?

The brand new scissor trap on the right, bought on Ebay, is virtually useless, except for holding paper together on a windy day!  See why below.

The same applies to one brand of Tunnel trap.  

So read on...........

 

 

 

TYPES OF TRAP REVIEWED

MAIN TYPES

The two main types of mole trap available on the British Market are the Scissor Trap and the Tunnel Trap (also known as the half tunnel or Duffus Trap, after it's inventor).  This page reviews these two , including, in the case of the Duffus trap, which ones to buy and which ones to avoid. It also reviews the Talpex Trap. An excellent trap but seldom seen. There are also some comments on Live Catch traps and Sonic Mole Repellers.  There are other traps about.  A number of  variations on the scissor trap, and various other designs.  My advice is not to bother with them.

The Scissor Trap is the trap most  commonly seen in garden shops, hardware stores etc. and therefore the one most commonly used by those just wanting the odd trap or two for a problem in their garden/paddock. The Tunnel Trap is the choice of most professional mole catchers.

 I am firmly of the opinion that there simply nothing to touch the Duffus or Tunnel Trap.  Forgive me therefore if I dismiss other types  as inferior with the exception of the Talpex.  All I will say is that I used the scissor trap for many years until someone showed me how to fine tune a tunnel trap.  After that there was simply no contest and I have now disposed of my scissor traps and with one exception exclusively use tunnel traps. That one exception is the Talpex Trap. I have a specific use for it, but details of that further down.

There are thousands of scissor traps in use and it is the one most commonly found in garden shops etc so I will look at that first.

TRAP REVIEW Scissor Trap

It has main three main advantages:

It is very easy to set the trap. (By that I mean squeezing the handles and placing the trigger tongue in position)

You can see from a distance if it has sprung 

Quite easy to tune the trap to make it ultra sensitive

It is a very simple but sturdy design. 

That, I am afraid, is it.  The rest is downhill.

The disadvantages are:

Although easy to set, it is tricky to install in a mole run, particularly in deep ones. It has to be covered in such a way that nothing, e.g. stones or bits of turf fouls the moving parts.  Because of the sticking up handles, it is difficult to totally cover so as to wholly exclude the light from the mole run without impeding the action of the trap

A stone in the wrong place will jam the jaws, a frequent occurrence in stony soils.

If there is a frost, the soil round the handles freezes and prevents the trap from working

Heavy rain will wash the soil from over the trap into the run thus exposing it

Not easy to install in a very shallow run, and likewise a very deep run

In my view not a particularly humane trap, as the spring is not very powerful, with one exception, the Extra Power trap imported by www.pest-stop.co.uk  

Cannot be used with livestock present, owing to the sticking up handles.

Hitting the trap with a mower will probably destroy the trap and damage the blade of the mower. 

There are quite a number of badly designed copies on the market

All these factors contribute to a much higher level of misses, i.e. a mole that has passed through the trap and either triggered it without getting caught, or dug under it, or even worse been partially trapped and then escaped.  You then more often than not have a trap shy mole. I used to think I was doing well if 50% of traps where a mole had passed had a dead one in it.  With the Tunnel trap that figure is over 90%

Why then is this the most common trap available?  I think because of it's simplicity in setting and the sturdy design.  The only real alternative, the tunnel trap, is quite tricky to set until you get used to it. There are many different brands on the market.  Few if any have makers names on them.  Some of the foreign imports are poorly made.  As I am not a user of this type of trap I am unable to comment on the different brands although further down you will find the bad points to look out for in a scissor trap..

TRAP REVIEW Tunnel, or Duffus Trap

To me, logic dictates that this is the perfect design of trap. It has a powerful action, incorporates a half tunnel, so is dead easy to cover, and the working parts are not prone to being jammed by stones turf etc. Be warned though that one of the most popular brands on the market, usually sold in a box under the brand name BIG CHEESE,  has a design fault and although it will catch moles, the catching percentage is lower than other brands.  Further details below.

Advantages of the Tunnel Trap are

Easy to install in a mole run as the half tunnel means you can  just brush a bit of loose soil over the top and all light is excluded from the run.

Fast powerful killing action, unlike some of its competitors

Easy to "tune" the trap so that it is very sensitive to being triggered.

Working parts virtually never jammed by stones or turf

If covered by a piece of turf or a small board, will not be affected by frost, or heavy rain

Can be set in a paddock/field containing  livestock  if covered by a small board.

Will not damage a mower as no part of the trap is above ground (except in v shallow runs).

If trapping on a lawn, much neater than a scissor trap. Cut out a piece of turf above the run with a border spade which is the same width as the trap. Turf can then be replaced when mole has been dealt with, molehills removed and lawn will be undamaged. 

Can be used equally successfully in  deep or surface runs

Can, and occasionally does, catch two moles at a time

Easy to conceal when set in places where the public have access, therefore less likely to get stolen.

Disadvantages of the Tunnel Trap

Tricky to set unless you are shown the technique. Get the setting wrong and you can get a painful rap on the fingers!

As sold not suitable for installation in a run.  The trap needs to be "tuned" so that it triggers quite easily. Simple to do once you have been shown or seen how to do it on my CD ROM

Cannot see from a distance if they have been sprung

As nothing shows above ground, easy to lose trap if child/dog/etc removes marker stick.

 

TRAP REVIEW Talpex Trap

If for some reason you prefer to use a scissor type trap rather than a tunnel, than I highly recommend this one. Very effective. Much used on mainland Europe. Even the cheap imports of this seem to work OK. The original Talpex comes with the word Talpex on the trigger plate

Advantages

The trigger mechanism on this trap works in a different way to the above two traps. Instead of the mole having to push with flipper or nose, it is the action of pushing soil to restore the tunnel that triggers the trap. It is therefore very useful if you get  a trap shy mole that consistently plugs a tunnel trap. It does occasionally happen.

A very powerful trap, which can make it a little tricky to set until you get used to it.

Needs no adjustment before use

Relatively easy to install in the run, but takes a bit of time especially if working in stony ground

Disadvantages

The main disadvantage of this trap is that like the scissor trap you can end up with  stones in the jaws. In stone free soil it is quite excellent.

Unless you know how to install, then you may get a high percentage of moles passing through. without triggering. I am not giving away all my secrets, so to learn that particular skill you will need to buy my CD Rom!

Live catch trap. 

This is basically a black tube with a one way swinging door at each end. I only have one of these which I bought to try and catch a trap shy mole.  Not only was it unsuccessful but in the other half dozen times that I have tried it the mole has dug round it each time, and I have yet to catch anything in it.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has CONSISTENTLY caught moles in this type of trap

I am not going to review it as  my opinion of this trap is that it is a complete waste of time and money.  That is a pity because I have people asking me to live catch moles and remove them, but  have no means of doing so. 

SONIC MOLE REPELLERS

Do they work?  Answer seems to be yes &  no. Three months after they bought these gadgets I asked twenty people  their opinion. 55% said they did not work.  20 % said they worked well although most of them said that the makers claims of the area covered were very optimistic.  25% said they worked but not very well and some claimed that the moles seemed to get used to them.

SCISSOR TRAP BRANDS: 

As far as I can make out to numerous to mention. I can only point out the things to avoid. The newer of the two traps, shown, on the left, is quite useless for two reasons.  Firstly the trigger is far too high from the bottom of the trap, as shown by the yellow line.  A mole can readily pass without touching the trigger. Secondly the hinge bar, shown by the red arrow, is too long.  The net result, as shown by the red & blue lines, is that the jaws of the trap are too close together, with barely enough room for a mole to squeeze through.  It also leaves the handles at the top too far apart, making it look as if the trap has been triggered. They should look like the one on the right.

I have recently bought an Extra Power Scissor Trap.  Previously known as the "Little Nipper", it does have a stronger spring than normal scissors and I have successfully caught moles with it.  If you like Scissor Traps then try this one.  It's main disadvantage is that the tongue is held captive by a pathetic little chain.  This is easily broken with the attendant risk of losing the tongue.

Can be obtained from www.pest-stop.co.uk

My final word on Scissor Traps is forget them and get Tunnel Traps!  At the time of writing I have just been speaking to a local gamekeeper to whom I lent two Tunnel Traps.  He asked to borrow them after failing to catch more than the odd mole in his garden with five scissor traps.  He caught nine in ten days with the two Tunnel Traps.  

 

DUFFUS TRAP BRANDS

To date I have come across five different manufactures/importers.  There are probably more. The first four are all good working traps. Some of them sell direct to the public, others not.  Some of the traps have slight advantages over others.  For more detail on individual brands you need to purchase my CD-ROM on MOLE TRAPPING WITH THE TUNNEL TRAPALL OF THEM REQUIRE SOME DEGREE OF PREPARATION BEFORE BEING USED.

The Flat Pack Company. Made on a farm in Yorkshire www.theflatpack.co.uk  Excellent trap. Very good value.  Sells direct to public and on Ebay username moletrapman. Incorporates a small modification to the top bar which improves the trap. Has a slightly stronger spring and thicker wire than the Bethel Rhodes trap (see below).  This means that it is slightly trickier to "tune", but once set up re-tuning is less likely.

Bethel Rhodes.  Based  in Yorkshire, they took over the manufacture  from Duffus, the inventor of the modern tunnel trap (in the late 1800s).  www.bethelrhodes.co.uk  Only sells direct in large numbers.  Supplies MOD, Defra etc. A well made trap.

Pest Stop.  Brand name Extra Power. True of their Scissor trap but their Tunnel Trap is no more powerful than the ones above.  A Chinese import, but a good one. www.pest-stop.co.uk

Trap Man   http://www.trap-man.com/  Some advice on website on how to trap.  One aspect of that is particularly inaccurate and will hugely reduce your chance of catching a mole!  Buy my CD ROM to find out why!

AND THE ONE TO AVOID, but unfortunately one of the most commonly found,

The Big Cheese brand comes in an individual  red and yellow box.  A poor copy of the Tunnel Trap trap, manufactured, I am told in the Czech Republic. The catching loop is slightly too long. The result is that the spring cannot pull the catching loop hard up against the tunnel, and thus dispatch the mole quickly.  I bought 20 of these traps and suddenly found I had a much higher percentage of sprung empty traps. The only way of identifying this particular brand of trap is by the shape of the trigger loop, which is different from all the others. It is much more rounded.

February 2007. Have just seen what appear to be 2nd generation Big Cheese Tunnel Traps.  These ones were not in a box but had a small label on a bit of string with Big Cheese written on it.  A slightly better trap than their previous one but still with a spring that is not strong enough..

 

One method of testing the effectiveness of a Tunnel Trap is by lowering the catching loop onto your finger. If you can easily pull your finger out then don't bother with that brand.
Finally, my favourite subject, OLD WIVE'S TALES. If you know of any not shown here, then please let me know.  The main thing is not to believe ANY of them, least of all the first one.

Bury new traps for months on end to take the  shine/smell off them.  I use mine straight from the factory with no discernable variation in moles caught.

Avoid handling the trap with bare hands or gloves with strange smells on them.  Once again total nonsense.  My gloves often have traces of diesel on them when I go trapping, and in summer I often use bare hands

Moles are solitary for most of the year.  Well if they are then why do I get multiple catches the whole time.

A piece of Mars Bar with an Aspirin in will poison the mole. Ha Ha!

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Last updated: 07/04/2014