Alarming a Trap

A trap alarm is any device that will alert you the moment an animal is caught in your trap.  If you are using a “House Trap” method, they can also be used to alarm the door to your house, porch or garage so you are alerted when an animal enters.

Reasons to use a trap alarm:

  • Significantly improve the likelihood of catching your lost pet by releasing non-target captures as quickly as possible.  Any time that another animal spends stuck in your trap is time lost catching your own pet.
  • Reduce the stress and potential risk to any animal caught in your trap by getting them out as soon as possible.
  • Reduce the risk of your pet escaping the trap.  I have seen cats escape several models of humane cage traps.
  • Reduce the chance that your pet will see another animal in the trap and avoid entering it.

If you are trapping close to home, you may be able to use a driveway alarm, baby monitor, or household security camera to monitor your trap.  If you are trapping farther away, you may need to purchase a wireless or cellular camera.

Short-Distance Driveway Alarms

Driveway Patrol Alarm set up as a trap alarm
Driveway Patrol Alarm set up as a trap alarm

These driveway alarms are fairly cheap, but due to their short detection range, they can only be used if you are trapping immediately around your home.  The specifications may say that they work up to 300 feet (or more), but I have found that some only work to 50 feet.  You will probably need to purchase them online, but I have occasionally seen them at Tractor Supply Co. or Harbor Freight Tools.

Before setting up your alarm, be sure to test the range and make sure that you will be able to hear it in your house.  In this picture, the alarm is attached to the trap using a zip-tie.  The alarm should be attached behind the trip-plate (where the food will be placed) or near the entrance (my preferred location).  Once trapped, most animals will spend more time at the trap entrance trying to escape, which can cause the alarm to go off repeatedly.  In either case, you want to be sure that the animal is inside the trap before you go outside to check.  If you place the trap up against a wall or block the other side of the trap, this will prevent the alarm from going off when an animal is outside of the trap.

Longer-Distance Driveway Alarms

Chamberlain motion sensor alarm attached to dog trap.

I use Chamberlain Wireless Motion Alarms and find that they work well up to 1/4 mile.  Unfortunately, these don’t seem to be readily available anymore, but these are some similar models.  These are more expensive, but should work much farther than the Driveway Patrol type alarms.  The specifications may say that they work up to 1/4 or even 1/2 mile, but be sure to test the range yourself before you set up your trap.

Here is a video of my dog entering a trap that is armed with a motion alarm. In this case, I attached the alarm to a piece of wood and angled it downward.  This way the alarm should not go off when an animal walks around the outside of the trap.  For the video, I placed the alarm receiver next to the video camera, so you could hear when it beeped, but normally the receiver would be in the house with you and the trapped animal wouldn’t hear it.

SpyPoint Wireless Motion Detector

SpyPoint also sells some good quality trail cameras including at least one wireless camera.

GPS Trap Alarms

There are also commercially available GPS enabled trap alarms that don’t have the range limitations of these wireless models.  However, they are probably prohibitively expensive for most people since they start around $500.  These, like GPS locators and wireless cameras, also require a monthly subscription plan.   A few models are the: