Leg-hold trapping is useful for dealing with small numbers of rabbits where alternative techniques are not viable. Effectiveness depends on the skill and experience of the operator. The Animal Welfare Act 1999 requires that traps are checked within 12 hours of sunrise, and for rabbits this should be as early as possible.
The Animal Welfare (leg-hold traps) order 20072 applies and this effectively means only No.1 double coil spring traps, or No 1.5 padded double coil spring traps may be used. The use of gin style long spring traps is prohibited. It is further prohibited to use any trap within 150m of a dwelling without the occupier’s written permission, or anywhere that capture of pets is likely. The gin trap with its larger trigger plate, and tendency to ‘jump up’ when triggered made it the preferred choice for rabbit trapping. Now that these traps are prohibited, rabbit trapping is rarely done. However, the principles are presented below. The padded No. 1.5 is probably the most suitable trap for this purpose.
Traps are set where there are signs of rabbits, scratches or accumulations of droppings. They can be set at the entrances to burrows or stops. A trap is set by digging a hole suited to the trap size, and 5 cm deep. All the fine soil is piled in the front of the hole.
The set trap is Available at http://www.biosecurity.govt.
placed in the hole after the peg and chain have been stretched back to one side of the hole and hammered in. The soil surface under the trap must be level, free of obstructions and must not inhibit the trap mechanism. The pan is supported by the trapping pin or a finger, a small square of paper placed over the catch but not the jaws and fine soil from the pile in front of the trap scattered over the pan. The minimum of soil is used over the jaws so that the movement is not impeded.
Setting two traps (double trapping) minimises the chances of a trapped animal escaping. Two traps are set in the manner described, close together, so that when pegged neither trap can touch the other. If one trap catches an animal and it tries to escape, then it encounters another trap and is securely held. Check traps early in the morning. This minimises the chances of trapped rabbits being ’legged’, i.e. escaping but leaving a leg in the trap. Approach rabbits from behind, grasp by the loose skin on the flank or back and kill them quickly and humanely (generally by breaking the neck). Heavy rain during the period traps are set has an adverse effect on catch rates. Soil can wash under the plate and stop it springing the trap.