Am I Being Paranoid?

Has anybody been unfortunate enough to accidentally trap a robin?
Has anybody heard of it?
I couldn’t find a thing about it on the net, which I assume is a good sign, but I’d prefer not to learn the hard way!


Hi, they do very occasionally get caught but it really depends on what type of trap. They are not heavy enough to set off most traps. The ones I know about were in rat snap traps. One idea being promoted in the past year is the idea of crumbs of Mutton fat leading up on and in the entrance of trap tunnels which is not something I would use with rat snap traps. Robins love high value foods like fat/cheese

All of my snap-traps are housed in tunnels, which have entrances to a 50mm diameter hole in plywood, or one about that size in mesh (which I file down so that it’s nice and smooth), and there’s a distance of at least 10cm between the entrance and the trap. I’m betting that these will significantly-reduce the odds of a ground-foraging bird being killed, especially if they can detect predator activity.

I’ve trapped lots of rats in traps with baffles this size, even large brown rats, with can be way bigger than ship rats, and are harder to trap, generally-speaking. In DOC tunnels, entrances this size (or a little bit bigger) make it way harder for rats and mustelids to run across treadles, or leap over them. I’ve had a fair bit of theft out of tunnels where I made the mistake of making the baffles too large, so I’m replacing them with smaller ones.

Finding lures that are attractive to rats and mustelids, but not to robins, is the biggest problem, by far. I haven’t trapped a native bird in 17 years, but the robins are recent arrivals. I don’t leave trails of bait, only the occasional blaze as a visual lure.

I’d love to use mutton fat, but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere. I think that I’ll have to ring some butchers.

Instead of mutton fat, I’ve been using white blocks of fat simply labelled “Beef Fat” at Pak 'N Save. It’s been absolutely amazing. I cut it into small pieces that I squish inside bait cups, or on top of DOC treadles. Whole pieces of the fat are easy for small rodents to steal, so patches of squished fat force them to eat it inside the tunnel.

The inability to remove it from tunnels, encourages numerous visits, which increases the odds of other predators finding tunnels that contain a lure that’s pure fat, due to numerous scent-trails being left. Squished fat has allowed me to trap a number of rats that would normally be too light to set off a DOC trap, because they stay on the treadle and move around on it while they eat and travel. I think that some of them get careless after a few trips, because they think that the treadle is a safe surface that they don’t have to be careful walking on.

Attaching a snap-trap to the base just past the treadle also traps quite a few medium-size rats and some small rodents, too. Killing the occasional small rodent reduces the amount of fat being eaten, and dead rodents are excellent stoat lures.

In winter, beef fat takes a long time to get colonised by mould, compared to commonly-used edible lures,and it doesn’t go rancid. Its popularity meant that mould wasn’t a problem!

One lure that might be robin-safe is Goodnature’s Blood Lure, which I’ve killed at least a hundred rats with (mainly in snap-traps), and it’s an excellent lure to use in hot weather, because it doesn’t go off.

Thanks for the feedback. I hope that your traps have been seeing a lot of action. .

sounds like you have things figured out, what you can do if having baits stolen is to try the double sided tea strainers and put a bit of extra bait in those , that way you have the bait scent and visual but pesky small animals like mice can’t steal it… half a Walnut or macadania nut are good for hard to get rats can stick them in place with a dab of peanut butter.
have a good day