Non-target Captures During Small Mammal Trapping with Snap Traps

There is little published information available on non-target captures during small mammal trapping. We used a variety of snap traps baited with a rolled oat-peanut butter mix to capture 2,054 individuals from 9 genera of small mammals in a study of small mammal and avian community structure in riparian areas and adjacent loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) plantations. We also captured 170 individuals from 24 non-target species over 122,446 trap-nights. Trapping was conducted from 1990 throught 1995 in 57 riparian areas and adjacent pine plantations in the Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas, during 10-day periods each February. Overall, 7.6% of individuals captured were non-target species. Approximately 78% of non-target captures were birds, 19% were mammals, 2% were amphibians, and 1% were reptiles. Rat traps accounted for 53% of total non-target captures; museum special traps, 29%; and mouse traps, 18%. Within each taxa, more non-target individuals were captured in rat traps than in museum special or mouse traps, excluding reptiles. Most non-target mammals and amphibians were captured in rat traps. Bird captures did not differ among trap types; however, foraging behavior of species such as the hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) and Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) likely influenced capture susceptibility. Alternative capture methods, timing of trapping periods, bait, trap placement, and type of trap used should all be considered to reduce capture of non-target species during small mammal trapping.

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