Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lawler Armadillo Trap

Lawler Armadillo Trap

It can be hard to trap an armadillo, or, for that matter, keep one in a wire trap. For years I tried various ways to trap them, and finally designed a way to do it. My procedure has been in operation about 15 years now, and my traps have caught many armadillos.

First, one must make a trap. Armadillos are very strong and if they can get claws of front legs into wire mesh they can pull against the wire to enlarge the mesh hole. More pulling can enlarge it enough to get their snout into hole. Then they can push with their snout/head and pull with their powerful front legs to literally pull-push their way through the wire of a trap, breaking the spot welds and pushing the wire aside. They usually go out a side, end, or bottom of the trap, leaving a round/oval hole in trap. The normal live traps one can buy will not usually hold an armadillo. One must use good wire of 4 mm or greater diameter and 1" x 2" mesh or less. If they go through this, put another layer of the same type of wire around the whole trap.

Trap should be at least 36" long, and 12" high, and 11" or less wide. You want the trap long enough to hold a mature male armadillo so the trap door, when falling, does not get held up by the back of the armadillo (and animal can possibly back out of trap, as foxes do). You want the trap high enough so the armadillo does not scrape its back on the door when in the up position. You want the trap width to be less than twice the width of a young armadillo so when one enters trap its body will knock the stick down that is holding up the trap door.

The door should be made out of grating like heavy-duty fridge shelves or like grating one can get for barbecue grills. The door should be cut longer than the trap is tall so when it falls it is jammed at an angle on trap bottom so armadillo cannot push it forward to escape trap.

Armadillos do not see very well, but they can smell and hear well. Some will run a circuit where they have various burrows they can escape into. They generally follow (presumably by smelling their own scent from previous time along trail) the same trails into and out of properties. Other armadillos will follow the trails of previous armadillos passing through. Since they follow the same trails, you want to find those trails and ascertain if each one is an entrance or exit trail from your place. How do you do this? Look at the hole under the fence and see which way the dirt is thrown from digging under fence, or put some leaves or grass in hole under fence and see where it is moved to.

And if you cannot find a hole under fence rake leaves or grass up against fence all along to see where leaves get moved by armadillo, and to get an idea if site is an entrance or exit.

You want to pick a site where the armadillo is coming into your place. Since it is usually a hole under a fence, you cannot place the trap all the way up to the fence and cover up part of the hole. Place front edge of trap on the edge of the hole made by armadillo. Then put boards or wire from front of trap to fence on each side of trap and secure to fence and trap (this is to guide armadillo into trap rather than let it escape off to side of trap when it exits hole). If the armadillo is coming onto your place on level ground (no hole in dirt where it comes onto your place) then place the front of the trap against the hole/spot in the fence centered on the path it is using. One can also place boards or fencing on each side of a trap to funnel armadillo into a trap set on open ground centered on the trail used by the armadillos.

Set the trap and check each morning. If an armadillo is caught it can be transported in trap a good distance away from your place and released. To release, turn the trap upside down so trap door flops down flat against original top of trap and armadillo can walk right out.

If traps are not checked in the morning, and it is a hot sunny day, the armadillo may die before the day is done. They are night creatures and are in their cool burrows in the heat of the day. They overheat in traps easily and can die during the day.

Many people, including those in animal control, have told me it is almost impossible to trap an armadillo. I designed a non-baited trap that will easily catch armadillos if it is placed correctly. I have been designing/building animal traps since a young boy in the hills of east Tennessee in the 1940's.

Wear gloves when handling the trap. Armadillos can carry leprosy bacteria that can be transmitted to humans. Use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on any cuts or scrapes. Wash well after handling a trap; do not transport a trap unless it is put on newspapers (to protect the vehicle bed, or trunk, etc.) that can be safely discarded or burned.
See article at:

Adrian R. Lawler, Ph.D.,   (C) 2011 --