Written by the late Chris Boone, founder of molecatching.com. Chris had 50 years’ experience of mole trapping, and this is his review of other traps, written a few years ago.
Tunnel, Talpex, Beagle, Scissor (including Fenn), Live Catch, Sonic Repeller, Victor Out O’Sight and Trapline.
I have reviewed these traps based on my 50 years of experience as a molecatcher. Many will of course disagree with me but these are my honest opinions. I sell what I believe are the two best brands of trap in the world. I have no connection with the manufacturers and would switch very rapidly if I found something better.
Most sellers of mole traps have never caught a mole in their life. They take a mole trap out to the Far East, get it copied and then sell at half the price of a European manufactured trap. Unfortunately their quality control seems non existent and most of these traps have inferior springs, thin wire and poor design. The result is that, although they will catch moles, they are not as effective as a decently made European trap. They can and do nip moles which then become trap shy.
MOLE TRAP REVIEW
Surely a mole trap is a mole trap so why have a review?
The brand new scissor trap on the left of the photo, bought on Ebay, is virtually useless, except for holding paper together on a windy day! The same applies to one brand of Tunnel trap.
Many traps on the market today, especially in garden centres, are the cheapest they can get. Most of them are copies that have been made at the lowest possible price in the Far East and at no stage has anyone who knows how to catch moles been involved.
They look much the same as a good one, but they certainly are not. The amateur molecatcher buying one of these traps is sentencing himself to hours of frustration!
So read on ….
The summary of the mole trap review below is that for the best results you want to learn how to use the Tunnel trap, and possibly have in your armoury a Talpex trap to catch the odd mole that will not push a trigger. Because the Tunnel Trap is slightly harder to arm than a Talpex, if you are on stone free soil you could consider the Talpex as a main trap. The Tunnel Trap is the only trap that deals effectively with shallow runs.
You should only purchase the best quality traps. In the case of the Tunnel Trap NEVER buy from your local retailer. They will be selling as cheaply as possible and the copies will be dreadful.
I have tried and tested every type of trap and many different brands. I think you should only buy the brand we sell.
Unless you know how to set the trap up for use, buy the first one from me as you get a video with it showing exactly how to use it.
If you really want to use a Scissor Trap, either buy the best your money can get, or try a Genuine Talpex such as I sell.
I am not recommending the Beagle Trap as it is, but with the addition of some small pieces of slate (see review below) it is not an unreasonable trap for the person who just gets the odd mole. It needs frequent checking to see that it is not jamming.
TYPES OF TRAP REVIEWED
Tunnel, Talpex, Beagle, Scissor (including Fenn), Live Catch, Sonic Repeller, Victor Out O’Sight and Trapline.
The two main types of mole trap available on the British Market are the Scissor Trap and the Tunnel Trap (also known as the half tunnel or Duffus Trap, after its inventor). This page reviews these two, including, in the case of the Duffus trap, which ones to buy and which ones to avoid. It also reviews the Talpex Trap. An excellent trap, now increasingly popular.
There are also some comments on Live Catch traps and Sonic Mole Repellers. There are other traps about. A number of variations on the scissor trap, and various other designs. My advice is not to bother with them.
The Scissor Trap is the trap most commonly seen in garden shops, hardware stores etc. and therefore the one most commonly used by those just wanting the odd trap or two for a problem in their garden/paddock. The Tunnel Trap is the choice of most professional mole catchers.
I am firmly of the opinion that there is simply nothing to touch the Duffus or Tunnel Trap. Forgive me therefore if I dismiss other types as inferior with the exception of the Talpex. All I will say is that I used the scissor trap for many years until someone showed me how to fine tune a tunnel trap. After that there was simply no contest and I have now disposed of my scissor traps and with one exception exclusively use tunnel traps. That one exception is the Talpex Trap. I have a specific use for it, but details of that further down.
There are thousands of scissor traps in use and it is the one most commonly found in garden shops etc. so I will look at that first.
THE SCISSOR TRAP
(Please note I include the Fenn Trap in this review as although it looks a bit different and has a stronger spring, essentially it is a scissor trap).
It has four main advantages:
- It is very easy to set the trap – by that I mean squeezing the handles and placing the trigger tongue in position.
- You can see from a distance if it has sprung .
- It is quite easy to tune the trap to make it ultra sensitive.
- It has a very simple but sturdy design.
That, I am afraid, is it. The rest is downhill.
The disadvantages are:
Although easy to set, it is tricky to install in a mole run, particularly in deep ones. It has to be covered in such a way that nothing (e.g. stones or bits of turf) fouls the moving parts. Because of the sticking up handles, it is difficult to cover totally so as to wholly exclude the light from the mole run without impeding the action of the trap..
- A stone in the wrong place will jam the jaws, a frequent occurrence in stony soils.
- If there is a frost, the soil round the handles freezes and prevents the trap from working.
- Heavy rain will wash the soil from over the trap into the run thus exposing it.
- It is not easy to install in a very shallow run, nor a very deep run.
- In my view it isn’t a particularly humane trap, as the spring is not very powerful.
- It can’t be used with livestock present, owing to the sticking up handles.
- Hitting the trap with a mower will probably destroy the trap and damage the blade of the mower.
- There are quite a number of badly designed copies on the market.
All these factors contribute to a much higher level of misses, i.e. a mole that has passed through the trap and either triggered it without getting caught, or dug under it, or even worse been partially trapped and then escaped. You then more often than not have a trap shy mole. I used to think I was doing well if 50% of scissor traps which a mole had passed had a dead one in it. With the Tunnel trap that figure is over 80%.
Why then is this the most common trap available? I think because of its simplicity in setting and the sturdy design. The only real alternative, the tunnel trap, is quite tricky to set until you get used to it. There are many different brands on the market, and few, if any, have maker’s names on them. Some of the foreign imports are poorly made. As I am not a user of this type of trap I am unable to comment on the different brands although I guess you get what you pay for. However if you prefer to use a scissor type trap then I strongly recommend you look at the Talpex Trap below.
THE TUNNEL OR DUFFUS TRAP
To me, logic dictates that this is the perfect design of trap. It has a powerful action, incorporates a half tunnel, so is dead easy to cover, and the working parts are not prone to being jammed by stones, turf etc. Be warned though that one of the most popular brands on the market has a design fault and although it will catch moles, the catching percentage is lower than other brands. Many other of the cheap imports are equally bad.
Advantages of the Tunnel Trap
It is easy to install in a mole run as the half tunnel means you can just brush a bit of loose soil over the top and all light is excluded from the run.
- Fast powerful killing action.
- Easy to “tune” the trap so that it is very sensitive to being triggered.
- Working parts virtually never jammed by stones or turf.
- If covered by a piece of turf or a small board, will not be affected by frost, or heavy rain.
- It can be set in a paddock/field containing livestock if covered by a small board.
- It will not damage a mower as no part of the trap is above ground (except in v shallow runs).
- If trapping on a lawn, it is much neater than a scissor trap. Cut out a piece of turf above the run with a border spade which is the same width as the trap. The turf can then be replaced when the mole has been dealt with, the molehills removed and the lawn will be undamaged.
- It can be used equally successfully in deep or surface runs.
- It can, and occasionally does, catch two moles at a time.
- It is easy to conceal when set in places where the public have access, and so is less likely to get stolen.
Disadvantages of the Tunnel Trap
- They can be tricky to set unless you are shown the technique. Get the setting wrong and you can get a painful rap on the fingers!
- As sold most are not suitable for installation in a run. The trap needs to be “tuned” so that it triggers quite easily. It is simple to do once you have been shown or seen how to do it.
- You cannot see from a distance if they have been sprung.
- As nothing shows above ground, it is easy to lose a trap if a child/dog/etc removes the marker stick.
- The best of these traps is manufactured in England, and, after tweaks to the design over the years, now work “out of the box”.
If for some reason you prefer to use a scissor type trap rather than a tunnel, then I highly recommend this one. It is very effective, particularly on moles that are proving difficult to catch, and is much used on mainland Europe. The original Talpex comes with the word Talpex on the trigger plate and is made in the Netherlands. There are lots of copies around and some of them are terrible.
- The trigger mechanism on this trap works in a different way from the above two traps. Instead of the mole having to push with flipper or nose, it is the action of pushing soil to restore the tunnel that triggers the trap. It is therefore very useful if you get a trap shy mole that consistently plugs a tunnel trap, which does occasionally happen.
- It’s a very powerful trap, which can make it a little awkward to set until you are shown how. You do not set it by squeezing the handles which is the obvious but almost impossible way. Do not buy the version with setting handles on top as they are not necessary.
- It needs no adjustment before use, except to bend the trigger plate downwards and very occasionally to file any small burrs off the pin.
- It is relatively easy to install in a mole run, but takes a bit of time especially if working in stony ground.
- The main disadvantage of this trap is that, like the scissor trap, you can end up with stones in the jaws. In stone free soil it is quite excellent.
- Unless you know how to install one, then you may get a high percentage of moles passing through. without triggering. I am not giving away all my secrets, so to learn that particular skill you will need to buy the Manual!
- It is not good on shallow surface runs.
THE BEAGLE MOLE TRAP
This trap has been around for a few years now, and is quite expensive at about three times the price of a good quality tunnel trap. I thought it would be the ideal trap to sell to beginners as it is very easy to set. Just push the plunger, pop the trap in the ground and away you go.
After initial success the catch rate dropped off. Just by chance I discovered that after a few uses you could push the trigger (in the picture the red bit at the bottom) horizontally and the trigger moves but the trap does not spring unless you push the trigger upwards as well. I took the trap apart and discovered this is due to a design fault.
This meant that moles were happily cruising past and not getting caught. The manufacturer told me that this was a bad batch but I was finding customers with traps bought a year or two back and they had the same problem.
The next step was that the company updated the trap and this version has a red rather than a black plunger. It seems to trigger better but has jammed once so far and I am currently carrying out further testing. The main problem with the trap is that it has no sides to stop the mole just going round the trigger. It does work to some extent but the catch rate is nothing like a a Tunnel or Talpex. On that basis I decided that it was not good enough to sell off my website.
However I tried creating a tunnel when I use it by pushing some small pieces of slate down the side. The picture is of course on the surface, but you can see that if set down in a run a tunnel has now been created. This turned it into quite a good trap providing it didn’t jam.
The manufacturer also suggests you wash it in a bucket of soapy water each time you use it!
LIVE CATCH TRAP
This is basically a black tube with a one way swinging door at each end. I only have one of these which I bought to try and catch a trap shy mole. Not only was it unsuccessful but in the other half dozen times that I have tried it the mole has dug round it each time, and I have yet to catch anything in it.
The huge disadvantage of it is that it must be looked at once a day as otherwise you are committing the mole to a lingering death.
We would be interested to hear from anyone who has CONSISTENTLY caught moles with this type of trap.
SONIC MOLE REPELLERS
Do they work? The answer seems to be yes but mostly no. Three months after they bought these gadgets I asked twenty people their opinion. 70% said they did not work. 10 % said they worked although most of them said that the maker’s claims of the area covered were very optimistic. 20% said they were not sure, but that they were not very good and some claimed that the moles seemed to get used to them.
THE VICTOR OUT O’SIGHT TRAP
This is merely an American version of a Talpex Trap.
It is very big and heavy and no doubt is designed to kill larger things than a mole. The spring is so powerful that you need setting handles to arm it.
I find it quite frightening as with any other trap if you get your fingers in them you merely experience a bit of pain and can open the trap. With this one you would have to get help.
However it works well. What I say about the Talpex Trap applies to this but it is over engineered for mole catching.
It is called an Out O’Sight trap but it would be more appropriately an Out O’Touch trap as like the Talpex the mole does not have to touch the trigger to set it off.
THE TRAPLINE TRAP
This trap is also American made and unlike the Victor trap is a bit on the small side for a large mole. See the biro in the picture for a size comparison.
You need to set them in pairs as you quite simply open up a run and push one up in each direction. They work but I don’t get the percentage catch rate that I do with a tunnel trap.