Tag Archives: backyard activities

Make a Pit Trap – Weekend Activity for the Kids

Living in Massachusetts, more specifically the country, has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

A major advantage is that we have a huge yard over looking a pond (6.85 acres of land and water to be exact). It’s pretty awesome.

I try to make sure that kids get out and utilize what’s just outside their back door. And while riding the big wheels down Nana’s driveway is a lot of fun (and easy for me), I like to engage the kids in at least one, at home, hands on activity a week.

I found a book on nature experiments at the library and knew Aidan would really enjoy looking through it. And he did. I gave him some post-its and told him to mark the pages/experiments he’d like to conduct. There were a few of them. After some discussion, we decided to build a pit trap. It’s super easy. Aidan had a blast building it and was thrilled with the results.

Autumn was on board for this particular experiment.

Autumn was on board for this particular experiment.

What is a pit trap?

Trapping pits are deep pits dug into the ground, or built from stone, in order to trap animals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pit_trap

 

What you’ll need:

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a piece of wood (we used bark)
4 large supporting stones
leftover scraps of food (the stinkier the better)
trowel (hand shovel)
glass jar

 

Instructions:

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dig a hole in the ground large enough to hold the glass jar.

Place the jar in the hole and pack loose soil around the jar to hold it in place. Make sure the rim is level with the ground's surface, so animals (insects) will fall in easily.

Place the jar in the hole and pack loose soil around the jar to hold it in place. Make sure the rim is level with the ground’s surface, so animals (insects) will fall in easily.

Put some bait in the jar. We used some apple scraps, but any leftover scraps will do. Try and use those with strong smells. The smell of the bait is what will attract passing animals.

Put some bait in the jar. We used some apple scraps, but any leftover scraps will do. Try and use those with strong smells. The smell of the bait is what will attract passing animals.

Place the large stones around the four corners of the trap.

Place the large stones around the four corners of the trap.

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Place the wood or tile (we used a piece of tree bark) on top. This will prevent rain form getting into the trap and harming any animals that have been caught.

In the morning, take the lid off the trap, lift out the jar, and empty your catch into a bowl.

In the morning, take the lid off the trap, lift out the jar, and empty your catch into a bowl (we skipped this part b/c it was a school morning)

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After you have examined them, put the creatures back (we caught two black beetles).

We only set up the trap once, but you can try varying the bait to see if different kinds of food attracts different animals. You can even set up different traps in different places to see if the types of visitors vary and then record your results in a notebook to find out where different creatures live.