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Dig a Pitfall Trap

Build a simple trap to learn about small creatures in your yard.

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Average Rating:
Participant Age: Under 7, 7 to 12
Approximate Cost: $0
Duration: Over an hour
Difficulty:
Physical Challenge:
  • Compostable materials, such as fruit or vegetable peelings (optional)
  • Plastic container with steep sides, such as a yogurt container
  • Nature field guides (optional)
  • 1 large rock or a few smaller ones
  • Trowel or small shovel
  • Flat piece of wood, larger than the top of your container
Choose a location for your trap
It needs to be in soft enough soil that you can dig down easily, and not in a place where people tend to walk. Ask an adult if it is okay to dig a hole there.
Dig a hole and put the container in it
The top of the container should be level with the ground. Fill any gaps around the edges with soil.
Put some soil at the bottom
You can also add some vegetable and fruit scraps from your compost bin to attract wildlife.
Put the cover on the trap
Place four small stones around the trap and set the wood on them. Make sure there is a gap of an inch or so. Then put a heavy rock or a few smaller rocks on top of the wood.This makes a cover to keep out rain and predators.
Leave the trap out overnight
In the morning, check to see if any creatures have fallen in. Look carefully—they might be hiding in the soil at the bottom.
Release anything that falls in each morning
Be sure to check the traps every day. Use nature guides to identify any creatures. Be sure to set the creatures free.

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