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By Arthur M. Greenhall, Collaborator,
Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife;
Curator, Royal Victoria Institute
Museum; and Consultant, Trinidad
Regional Virus Laboratory, Port of
Spain, Trinidad, British West Indies.
Mongooses have been taken successfully in Trinidad with an easily constructed live
trap used locally for many years to catch land crabs. It is made from the common
bamboo, which is widely grown in most subtropical and tropical areas. In countries
where the Indian mongoose, Herpestes auropunctatus , has been introduced, it is a
practical and economical method of capturing them, even for large-scale operations.
The body of a mongoose is about 14 inches long and its tail about 12 inches. Hollow
internodes or "joints" of bamboo, about two feet long, with basal node diameters of
about 3-1/2 inches, make ideal darkened cylinders into which the slender mongoose
will readily enter and easily fit. The trap is easy to make.
Saw a two-foot section, leaving one internode to form the solid end (Figure 1), Next,
carve the trigger assembly parts (Figure 2). The bow (A) which closes the trap door
is about six inches long. It is slit about one inch at each end to provide a place to
anchor a rubber band cut from an old inner tube. The trap door (B) is about five
inches long and 3-1/2 inches wide, rounded on the bottom edge to fit the contour of
the inside of the trap. The top edge is notched to hold the rubber band and a second
notch is cut on the inner surface about three fourths of the way to the base so that it
will be held up high enough for the mongoose to enter. The flying stick (C) is long
enough to fit the notches of the trap door at one end and the trigger stick at the other.
The trigger stick (D) is whittled from a half-inch by four-inch piece notched long
enough to clear the thickness of the trap as well as the flying stick; both edges of the
notch must be square. Bait is tied or smeared on the rounded lower half of the trigger
stick. On the top side of the trap about an inch in front of the internode, cut a three-
quarter inch square hole through which the trigger stick is inserted and a one-Inch slot
about three inches from the open end for the trap door. A slit is then cut from the rear
edge to hold the bow (Figure 3). Insert the bow, rough side up, rubber band attached.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Fish and Wildlife Service • Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife
Washington 25, D. C. « Wildlife Leaflet 453 • July 1963
in this slit (Figure 4). The rubber band, when inserted in the notched top of the trap
door, should have ample tension to spring the door shut and hold it in place (Figure 5).
Set the trap by inserting the flying stick into the trap door notch, the trigger in the
trigger hole (Figure 6) and hook the rear end of the flying stick firmly under the upper
edge of the trigger notch (Figure 7). When the trigger is pulled (Figure 8), the flying
stick is released and the trap door drops in place.
Cut bamboo may become infested, within 24 hours after harvesting, with bamboo powder-
post beetles, which are abimdant in the Caribbean Islands. This may be prevented by
the application of five percent DDT to the freshly cut bamboo either brushed inside and
out or used as a ten-minute dip. It is preferable to use DDT wettable powder since an
oil base might be repellent to the mongoose. Insecticides may not be necessary since
the traps are easily made and considered expendable.
A variety of baits, such as dried fish, canned sardines, fat pork, bacon, chicken heads
and entrails may be used. These may be smeared or tied on to the bait stick or, space
permitting, placed free on the trap bottom as far behind thebait stick as possible. How-
ever, it should be noted that fish and meat baits rot rapidly in the tropics, attracting flies,
dogs and vultures. It may be that mongooses could be attracted by means of scented
lures. Although this method has not been tested, mongooses have large scent glands
which could be prepared for lure, which, along with mongoose urine, might prove satis-
factory and thus reduce trap molestation, at least by vultures. To prevent dogs and
vultures from troubling a baited trap, experience has shown that the best sets are made
when the trap is placed between logs or rocks, against trees or buildings and covered
with twigs, branches, grass or sugar cane trash. This also prevents the round trap
from rolling to one side, although this does not matter unless the bait stick is tripped.
However, mongooses also like the cover of sugar cane fields and grasslands , where
logs, wood, rocks or other suitable braces may not be handy. To prevent molestation
and rolling, then, the trap may be set into a trench made with a cutlass, machete,
knife or the heel of a shoe and then covered with vegetation and sugar cane trash.
I wish to thank Mr. Harold Drysdale, of
the Trinidad Regional Virus Laboratory,
for photographing the traps made by Mr.
Vernon Mahabirsingh, an assistant in my
laboratory. I also wish to thank my daugh-
ter, Alice R. Greenhall, and my wife,
Elizabeth R. Greenhall, for many helpful
suggestions and for editing the manuscript.