Mole Trapping at Walcote Farm

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By John Finnemore
 
showing in detail

How To Set A Mole Trap

with
Mole Catching Techniques

and including

How to redesign some traps for better mole catching.

 

Everything you need to know, to be successful, in trapping moles.

 
The American MolePro Mole Trap Is Now Featured On This Website.
For people who want a better way of setting traps in their yard.
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In March 1966, I wanted to find a better way of catching moles, with the use of traps, so I asked a retired farm worker and mole catcher, Harry Redding, to show me how to do it.

I immediately started to catch moles, so I decided to keep a daily record on how many I caught and from which fields. I still have the records.

 

These are the numbers of the moles caught per month and the type of traps used.

1966  

March 81 moles in 3 weeks.
April 70
May 45
June 37
July 7
Aug-Nov No traps set
December 125
1967  
January 105
February 13
Total..............  483 moles caught in 12 months or should I say 8 months.

The trap on the right is the same design of traps which were bought in 1966. The original ones are all broken. The other two traps which are older, were used in 1966 and are still being used.

 

I trapped another 29 moles in 1967 making a total of 512 moles before I stopped recording numbers caught as there were no more moles to catch.

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The method that I was shown in 1966 of setting a mole trap, proved very effective to enabled me to catch all the moles on the farm, but my average percentage rate at the time was between 30% to 40%. I was using 18 traps, which increased to 30 traps in December 1966 to be used on 65 acres and with some fields 1½ miles away from the farmhouse.

The intervening years since 1966, I have developed a far better way of setting a scissor mole trap. What I know now, I would only have needed 10 traps to catch all those moles in 1966/67. Today I only need 2 traps to catch any moles that come on to the farm.

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This website is based on

 The Old Mole Traps Above In The First Picture

And The Four Modern Traps Below.
Lot of advice given will also benefit other types of traps.
 
 
Because of the interest I get from North America, I have now added the MolePro mole trap to this website because I believe that I have a better alternative way with more advantages of setting this trap than what I have seen on the MolePro website.
Page for MolePro trap users
      MolePro
These two traps will need modifying for trouble free mole catching. All details are on this website.   MolePro is an American mole trap. The trap is similar to the trap on the right in the picture above, which I have a lot of experience with. I would set this trap like other traps as shown on this website. Make sure that the distance between the tips of the legs is 1¾ inches.
Mole Control
with the

John Finnemore method of setting a scissor mole trap.

 
Introduction to a
Better Way of Setting a Mole Trap
And
Avoid The Mole Filling The Trap With Soil.
Also
Correcting Badly Designed Mole Traps for Trouble-Free Mole Catching.
 

Mole catching is very easy, using the right design of scissor traps. I am trying to prove this by producing this website where everyone can benefit from my research.

The website is based on a scientific approach to mole catching, where a mole is expected to be caught every time a trap is triggered.

People can only achieve this new way of setting a trap if they forget about all the things that they have read, been told or shown what to do in the past, on the setting of a scissor mole trap. Most of these methods and a lot of myths on mole catching, have been handed down for many generations, but it is now time to move on with no myths and a guaranteed way to catch moles.

 
There are three main parts to mole catching.

(1) Choosing which type of trap to buy.
(2) Learning how a trap works and adjust if necessary.
(3) Learning how and where to set a trap.

 
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First of all, lets get rid of all the

Myths On Mole Catching.

 

You must not touch the trap with your hands.

You must rub your hands in the soil before you set the trap.

You must wear rubber gloves.

You must not wear rubber gloves.

You must bury a new trap in the ground for three days before you can catch moles.

You must bury a new trap in the ground for one week before you can catch moles.

You must not disturb the soil at the bottom of the mole run.

You must not store mole traps in a building where oil is kept.

You must use odourless oil when lubricating the trap.

 

I found all of the above myths were written by professional mole catchers, on websites or in print before I produced this website. They would explain very basically, how to set a mole trap and there would be one or two of the above myths with the advice.

From my 60 years as a mole catcher, I have found the above myths to be a load of rubbish and therefore useless information which is very off-putting for people who want to catch moles.

Since I have published them as myths, there are now other websites that call them myths.

 

Email received 06/09/2011

I went to the farming retailer today and bought 2 new traps........ Oh I was also told that on no account must I touch the traps with my hands... I must leave them in the open air for at least 3 days!

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Full Instructions On

How To Set A Scissor Mole Trap, At Any Depth,

For A Guaranteed Way Of Catching Moles.

 

The John Finnemore method of setting a scissor mole trap.

All items that I use for setting a mole trap.

 
Bucket to carry the items.
Plastic bag to kneel on.
Electric fencing post to use as a probe, to find the mole run, then leave it to show where the trap has been set.
Trowel with a solid stem to the handle for strength, to make a hole, which is narrower than the width of a trap.
T-handle and a club hammer, to consolidate the ground in the mole run.
Scissor mole trap.  Many traps are useless without alterations being made to them. Read all the information on correcting badly designed traps and make alterations if necessary before setting any traps. See Menu.
Soft matted grass for use in setting the trap. Soft matted grass can often be pulled up from near where the trap is going to be set, otherwise I have to find some from elsewhere.
Rubber gloves. I only use them when the soil is wet.
The only extra items that I carry are more traps and electric fencing posts for marking mole trap positions.

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Email received 18/03/2010

Dear John

I have just come across your valuable web page on catching moles and would like to suggest farmers take your advice, and so have added the site as a link on www.farmideas.co.uk
Best wishes, and congratulations on some really first class research that has the potential to save farmers £millions in spoiled silage, listeria, damage to mowers and so on.
Mike Donovan
Practical Farm Ideas
 

Email received 04/03/2013

John, 

I'd been trying to catch moles for a week or so and had the usual frustrating problems with empty traps, buried traps and traps without any action at all. I found your site on Saturday, tried to replicate your methods and caught 3 moles in 36 hours.  Very many thanks.
CB

Email received 09/06/2013

Just to let you know I have continued mole catching.  I am practicing on a friend's farm and have now had a total of 67 moles.  He is delighted.  One trap by a stream has delivered 8 of these.
CB
 
Email received 16/02/2013

Thank you for all the information on your site about "how to catch moles". I have tried over the past 30 years to catch them when they have invaded the garden, but without any success. However when recently there was mole activity in the vegetable patch and in the asparagus bed, my wife decided I should have another go! So after a bit of internet research, I spotted your website, and went to work. Over about a fortnight, I have now caught ten moles, two were in the garden, and the rest in our two "3 acre home fields". Mole hill activity appears to have ceased!

So thank you for your advice. 

JB
 

Email received 07/08/2011 Surrey

Despite having 3 different companies in to deal with moles in our garden, and after forking out a lot of money, the problem was never solved for 3 years…until I came across your website.

LG
 

Email received 13/12/2010 Wales

Hi John. Just wanted to let you know how brilliant your instructions are. We recently moved into a smallholding where moles had been running riot over an extended period of time. The previous owner had tried many different methods but none worked. My husband applied the information from your site and within 2 days had caught 2 moles. Today he has caught 3 moles from 4 traps, the 4th went off but no mole in it. Even the neighbours are impressed! Many thanks again.    D and M

 
 

How To Set A Mole Trap.

A scissor mole trap

 
The trap has to be set into a tight-fitting hole with no loose soil lying in the mole run.
 

Finding the mole run.

The spike on the electric fencing post is used as a probe to find the mole run between two molehills after prodding the ground several times. You will easily be able to know when you have found the mole run as the spike will suddenly go in quicker. On peat soils a proper designed mole run probe would be better. This type of probe has a spike wider than the stem.

Where the probe found the mole run, I push the trowel into the ground, which is parallel with the mole run. (Do not use a knife and cut a round sod of turf out). I will now lift up the turf with the trowel, just wide enough to squeeze my hand through, to find out the angle and the centre of the mole run and to make sure there are no other runs branching off. If there is a run branching off, fill it in and find another place otherwise fold back or remove the turf, directly above the run.

Most trowels are wider than the mole run, so hold the trowel on an angle to avoid making the hole too wide.

Normally one has to remove soil to make a hole for the trap but if you find the soil very soft or loose, then widen the hole by pushing the soil sideways with your trowel or hands and only remove soil from the side of the hole if necessary, to expose the mole run. This helps to firm up the sides of the hole.

The correct size of hole is narrower than the width of the trap, when the ground is soft. This enables the legs of the trap to be set into the side of the hole. If you are finding it difficult not to make the hole too wide then use a narrower trowel.

Ease the trap into the hole by moving the trap forwards and backwards as you are pushing it down into the hole. Make sure the trap is in alignment with the mole run.

 This procedure makes a groove with the legs of the trap down the side of the hole, which helps to support the trap and allows the trap to close quickly when triggered.

Now the hole is the correct size in width, remove the trap and any loose soil because you are now ready to consolidate the mole run.

If I see grass roots hanging down in the mole run with a white fur on them, that means that the mole run is not being used and therefore a waste of time setting a trap.

 

Consolidating the mole run is a technique that I use in preventing the trap being filled up with soil. This is a huge benefit for all types of mole traps.

 Another technique is to lower the mole run where the trap is to be set if the ground is too soft for consolidating, to find firmer ground. I have found by using these techniques, mole catching becomes so easy that I expect a mole to be caught every time a trap goes off.

This way of setting a trap, is what I have worked out myself. I have never been told about this way of catching moles or ever seen these techniques in print, until I created this webpage in May 2009.

I developed the idea of compacting the run after realising for many years that when I had set a trap in a mole run which was on ground that tractors drove over frequently then I could catch a mole every time the trap was triggered. The ground had been well compacted by the tractors so I decided that I needed to compact the mole run everywhere a trap was set.

 

Compacting the mole run with a T-shape handle where the trap is going to be placed. The mole finds it easier to enter the trap and not dig around it.

First of all, if the mole run is wet and sticky, or the soil is very loose, lower the mole run with a trowel to find firmer and drier ground. This method will make it easier to compact the mole run.

 Remove any loose soil in the hole. Never compact loose soil because you can get a better compaction without it. Place the T-handle into the hole to compact the soil in the run. I will hold the T-handle at different angles so that all the area in the bottom of the run is compacted when the end of the T-handle is hit hard with the hammer. The idea of the T-handle is that it can be pushed up the mole run on either side of the hole so that the approach to the trap can also be compacted.

 

This picture is for illustration purposes only. Do not dig a hole any wider or longer than the size of the trap.

When you are compacting the ground where the trap is to be placed, also compact the slopes with a slope. The end of the handle is inside the mole run that has not been dug out and a hammer is used to get the compaction as shown in a previous picture.

 

All types of traps will benefit from compacting the ground. Traps correctly set, a 100% mole catching rate can be achieved.

Compacting the soil also compacts any stones in the ground and stops them getting caught in the trap. Compacting the soil allows the trap to close quicker and also makes the mole run smooth, which is essential for catching moles.

Remove more soil if you are not getting the compaction.

Note. Some soils can be too wet to be consolidated in the winter months. To check if soil has been compacted enough. Push your finger, with not much pressure, into the compacted ground and if it goes in more than ¼ of an inch, then that is not compacted enough. You either try and go deeper or find another place to set the trap, where the ground could be firmer. This is a guide that I have worked out, in trying to set a trap, when the ground conditions can be too wet.

Always remove any loose soil before and during compacting the soil. Never try to compact loose soil and never add soil to bring the mole run back to the level of the main mole run.

 
You are now ready to put the trap back into the hole having already made it to be a tight fitting trap and making sure it is in alignment with the mole run.
 

By setting the legs of the trap into the sides of the mole run when the ground is wet, helps to support the weight of the trap from sinking into the ground and therefore the trap will close faster.

Before the trap is placed into the hole, squeeze the handles several times to see if the trap is closing quickly. If the trap does not close fast, then it needs oiling.

The trap is set, with the setting ring placed in the centre of the legs before it is pushed into the hole, making a groove with the legs of the trap down the side. If this procedure pushes some soil into the run, pull the trap back out to remove the soil. Always put the trap back in the hole the same way as you put it in the first time, otherwise you could be making more grooves down the side of the hole.

Make sure the trap is low enough in the hole in order that the mole cannot go underneath the setting ring of the trap without setting the trap off. The setting ring should be ¾ of an inch above the bottom of the mole run. This is high enough for the mole to try and go underneath the setting ring. Moles do not try and go through the hole in the middle of the setting ring.

Problem to be aware of when you place the trap in the run, is that sometimes the setting ring is too high when the legs of the trap are on the bottom of the mole run. This is because the sides of the run, where the trap stands is often higher than the centre of the run. If the setting ring is too high, push the trap into the bottom of the mole run to get the correct height. When you move on to the next stage of setting the trap, you will find that a groove will be made in the bottom of the run to allow the trap to close fast.

 

At this next stage, always check to see if the trap is going to close quickly, with the trap in the hole.

Before you start covering the hole up, to keep out the light, check to see if the trap is going to close fast when a mole triggers the trap. This saves a lot of wasted time in mole catching.

To do this, pinch together the trap handles, just enough for the setting ring to drop down and then release the trap handles. The trap could close slowly. Keep putting the trap back in the mole run and keep repeating the procedure, removing any loose soil, until the trap closes fast.

With the soil compacted and legs of the trap set into the side of the hole, the mole finds it easier to go into the trap and not around it.

 

This next stage is to cover up the run to keep out the light.

This is another technique that I use, which is not the norm, so do not use turf to cover up the hole.
 

Carefully lay soft matted grass inside the hole, (not long seeded grass stems), on top of the legs, all around the trap handles and between the handles. Make sure that the matted grass does not extend wider than the hole. This method allows the trap to be set at any depth. Matted grass can be found where the grass is thicker and is pulled up by clawing at it, near its roots. I have also used green plant leaves when there was no matted grass available when setting traps in a garden.

Add loose soil, to cover up the matted grass, after you are sure that the soil will not fall into the mole run, in order to keep out the light.

A bucket can be used to cover the trap for protection if there is going to be a lot of rain or frost or there are animals that would disturb the soil around the trap. I will use the marker post to peg down the bucket by its handle to keep it in place. It is very rare that I will use buckets to cover over traps in fields because it defeats the way that I want to be able to see if the trap has been triggered from a distance.

 

 
 

Set your traps as shown and this will be the result.

This trap was not set in a mole hill. The handles of the trap have opened outwards, indicating that a mole has triggered the trap. A mole was caught.

If a mole has been caught by any other part of its body than what is shown here, then the trap has not closed quick enough and therefore has not been set correctly.

Also check the traps that have not gone off. This is easily done by holding one of the handles sticking out of the ground and pulling it up about half an inch and then pushing it down. If the trap feels loose, that's fine, but if the trap feels tight, pull it out and you will find that the mole has dug around or underneath the trap and filled the trap with soil. If this happens, try and work out why, based on this website, because you should be expecting to catch a mole every time. Normally the mole run is not compacted enough.

 
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How And How Not To Set A Trap

A cut-away section of a mole run to show how traps are set and how not to set them.

The trap in the mole run should look like this, with soft matted grass placed on top of the legs

  and not like this, which has a large air pocket that is not natural in a mole run.

I would have set the legs of the trap into the sides of the mole run if the ground had been soft.

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How not to set a trap in loose or any soil.

Picture sent to me, asking for advice.

The problem with this hole, the soil was so loose that the sides gave way when digging a hole. No soil should have been removed from the sides to set a trap in the mole run.

To set a trap in loose cultivated soil. Make a slot with a trowel, then make the hole bigger by pushing the soil to the side of the hole with your hand or trowel, just enough to ease the trap into the hole, making grooves down the side of the hole. Next, remove the trap to remove loose soil and then compact the run, removing soil from the bottom of the run if necessary. Always test the trap in the hole to see if it will close fast before covering up with grass and soil.

Setting a trap like the picture is a waste of time. The mole can easily go around the trap or go into the trap and out through the side. The mole could even set the trap off as it was coming out through the side without getting caught.

If you cannot get the ideal trap setting at a given place, then try elsewhere.

If the hole is ending up too wide, use a narrower trowel.

 
 
Traps 1 & 2 are the ways I set my traps before covering the run up. Perfect trap settings will guarantee results. Trap 3 is the wrong shape for mole catching.

This "Eliza Tinsley" or "1402" trap has been modified.
Modification changes.
This "Procter PEST-STOP" trap has shorter legs, which are designed to be on an angle. This allows for maximum width for the mole to enter the trap. The trap relies on the side of the hole to get the required height for the setting ring. This "Big Cheese" trap or it is now called "Defenders or STV312" is as bought. The legs have been pushed into the ground but the setting ring is still too high. The trap needs to go lower with deep grooves made in the bottom of the run for the trap to close. Modification changes are needed on this trap.

Study how narrow the hole has been dug from the top of the legs to the bottom. All these types of traps should be set like this, at any depth. On some soils and cultivated ground, where the soil is so loose, then you will have to dig the hole deeper and set the trap at a lower level to achieve the same result.

Whatever depth the trap is set, it is only the height of the legs that the trap has to be in a tight fitting hole.

After compacting the ground, you must make sure the trap is pushed down far enough for the setting ring to be no more than ¾ inch above the centre of the run. Pinch the handles together, just enough for the setting ring to drop down and then let go to see if the trap will close quickly. If the trap closes slowly, keep repeating the procedure. This will make a groove on the edge of the run so that the trap is at the right height and it will close fast. Remove all lose soil and keep the bottom of the run smooth. Now you are ready to cover the run up to keep out the light.

 

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Mole Problems
 

Mole Catching Made Easy.

 
Adding more information about consolidating the mole run.

Lower the mole run in order to get better compaction if the soil is wet or pliable.

If you find that the mole is filling the trap up with soil and you find that the entrance to the run on either side of the trap can be cleared by using your hands, then this means that the mole is digging around or under the trap. This tells you that the ground is not consolidated enough as it is too easy for the mole to avoid the trap. My answer is to set the trap at a lower level where the soil is normally more consolidated.

This picture is for illustration purposes only. Do not dig a hole any wider or longer than the size of the trap.

This mole trap is set two inches lower than the mole run. I catch every mole this way, if I cannot compact the ground without digging deeper because the soil is too pliable or wet. This is also the best way to catch moles in soft cultivated ground and garden borders.

 

Moles are always going down to lower depths and up again but in this case, they never go up. As soon as the mole starts going down the slope, the mole is in the trap.

The trap could go deeper. The trap handles could be below ground level and when you add matted grass and soil to keep out the light, the handles of the trap should always still be seen, even though you will have to look into the hole. You might have to take some soil away from the side of the hole, for the trap handles to open. You can check this when you test to see if the trap will close fast, before covering it up to keep out the light.

 

Email received 14/06/2010 Wales

Thanks for posting your mole catching knowledge on the web !

I have a pair of traps that I have customized as per your instructions. I’ve compacted the run to a depth that feels level with the run inside and the soil is nice a dry at the moment. When I see that a trap has been sprung all I have is a hole full of soil and no Mole.

I feel like I’m really close to catching something but am not sure what to try next.

Have you got any tips ?? 

Your help would be much appreciated

 

My Reply:

If the mole run either side of the trap is clear of soil, it is obvious that the mole is digging around or under the trap to fill the trap with soil. My only method if this happens, is that the soil is not compacted enough and therefore I would remove more soil where the trap is to be set and set the trap at a lower level than the rest of the mole run. This I show in pictures on the website.

You say you have compacted the run to a depth that feels level with the run inside. To me that is not compaction because the run where the trap is to be set should be at a lower level after compaction, especially if the mole is finding the soil is easy to dig past the trap.

If you are still having problems, send me some pictures of the trap that you are using and place that you are trying to catch moles and anymore details like the type of soil.

Mole catching is easy, it is the technique in applying it has to be learnt and having the right shape of trap.

Please follow my instructions from the website on setting a trap and testing it to see if it goes off easy before adding matted grass and soil.

Email received 15/06/2010

Many thanks for getting back to me. I’ll take your advice and compact the run more. If I have no luck I’ll take you up on your kind offer and send some photos.

Email received 18/06/2010

Thanks for advice !!! 1 Mole down and 1 to go I think.

I compacted more and dropped the level at which I placed the trap and bingo !

Thanks again for your help

 
 

Email received 05/02/2011

Hi John, a quick line or two to thank you for sharing your experience and your informative website. I've been catching moles for only three years on my property with an excellent success rate, until I tried to help a friend with moles in his fields. I set the traps as I had been doing here but ended up with sprung traps full of soil and nothing else. I have tunnel traps, Talpex type, the new chain type and three old traps similar to yours. Moles didn't mind which they were though and dealt with them all the same. After compacting the soil as suggested however, they are no longer with us! I'm also now looking at the traps in a new light and will be off into the workshop to modify them as suggested, ready for the next invasion! Many Thanks again, David.

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Trap Maintenance.

Old and new traps need a file on the area where the setting ring is set if the metal is rough. This helps the mole to trigger the trap quicker.

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The wire holding the setting ring must be the right shape and length.

To have the right shape and length of wire holding the setting ring, then the setting ring must be able to lie flat to the left and to the right, as shown in the pictures.

Some setting rings will not lie flat in any direction and some will lie flat in one direction only. These need to be corrected.

The wire holding the setting ring can also be too long or too short which prevents the setting ring to be correctly set in the middle of the trap.

 
More information

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Please click on

Quick instructions for setting a mole trap.

In order that the trap is set correctly, I have produced an eight point summary of instructions that should be printed off and taken to the place where a trap is being set. Do everything in the order that is written down. To get the most out of these instructions, please read the full instructions on the website.

 

Email received 15/08/2011

Many thanks for your excellent website, filled with wonderful advice. I had a mole devastating my veg patch, bought two traps, and tried about ten variations in trying to catch him.

 I then looked on the internet, read your article, saved it into my favourites, then went out having followed your advice. Bang caught the very large mole on my first try. Its a very logical site with information gleaned from many years of experience.

 

The Best Places To Set A Mole Trap.

The normal place that you read about is to set a mole trap between two new molehills. That is the easy option, because people cannot go into a lot of detail when explaining where to set a trap. To me, although it is a place to set a trap, it is not the best place. I will only set a trap between the latest molehills if there are no other options.

The best place is in a fence line.

At any time of year, when you go into a field or garden to catch moles, the first thing you should think of is, where is the nearest place for water from where the moles are working. Traps set in a main run or runs going towards a water source, will catch all the moles from a large area, which could extend for many 100's of yards away. Main runs would normally be found in a fence line.

More information

 

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Email received 28/09/2011 Northumberland

Thanks for your brilliant advice, John. We have a very nice garden with a superb lawn – adjacent to a farmer’s field. Every now and then I get a mole who thinks he can do a better gardening job than me – resulting in lumpy lawns from collapsing tunnels well after I’ve caught them – there’s a second problem for you!

Till yesterday – when I read your website info I’d used a couple of Tunnel Traps – with mixed success – maybe 10-15% catch-rate. Yesterday I bought a Procter Scissor trap – used it exactly as you indicated and bingo – mole within hours! I’ve now relayed the trap in the same run to check for siblings ………… My two tunnel traps are still down in the earth going rusty ………..

 

Email received 07/07/2011 Norfolk

Hi John. I would like to say how much I appreciate your website. I am new to mole catching and the information you kindly provide is the reason I have now caught two moles in my garden where they were causing a lot of damage. I only have the one trap and it does need to be modified no doubt, nonetheless your advice on locating runs and how to place and set the trap has been invaluable. Many thanks for a great website!  Kind Regards  Chris

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These are the traps that I use, and are very good for catching moles, provided they are set in the way that I have described on this webpage. Note the general shape of them.

Trap 1. Bought before the 1930's. The setting ring has been renewed.
Trap 2. Bought in the 1950's. Everything still original.
Trap 3. Bought in the 1990's but not that shape. This trap is still being sold, but not that shape.
Trap 4. Borrowed from a neighbour as a challenge to see if I could catch moles with it, and was surprised when I found it very easy. It is all to do, on how the trap is positioned in the mole run, which is different from the other three traps. Latest Update:- The trap on the right has now been superseded by a newer design. I bought the newer designed trap in July 2010 but I still see this older design trap being sold in shops. August 2011.

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Modern mole traps. Note the general shape of them.

 Useless for all the year round mole trapping.

The legs are too straight which makes the setting ring too high. Putting the trap on a flat surface, I have worked out that the ideal height of the setting ring is 5/8" above the surface. Putting more of a curve on the legs which is necessary for an ideal trap, corrects the problem.

These two traps the "Eliza Tinsley" trap on the left and the "Defenders" trap on the right, look very similar. The handles and the legs look identical, but the way each trap is put together is very different. The trap on the left has a flat spring and the trap on the right has a coiled spring in the centre of the hinge. Read on further for other differences.

 
Eliza Tinsley Trap, No. 1402 Trap, English Scissor Trap, Scissor Type Mole Trap or traps that have different names that look exactly like the trap on the left is the best buy compared with the Defenders trap on the right. "Defenders" the trap on the right is one of the worst made traps that you can buy.

The picture above corresponds with the picture below. Note the trap on the left shows that the handles have been welded and the trap on the right shows they have not been welded.

The trap on the left has one design fault.

The trap on the right has 4 design faults.

1. The legs are too straight. 1. The legs are too straight.

 This is the best trap to buy for making alterations to it.

2. The wire holding the setting ring is the wrong shape for a fixing to a cotter pin.
  3. The handles come loose because they are not welded.
  4. The setting ring could be a problem by the way it has been designed. You may not be able to set it in the middle of the trap.
  This is one of the worst traps that you can buy.
 

Trap Conversions For Better Mole Catching.

How to convert scissor mole traps to make them catch moles.

 
 
 

This is my experience after over 50 years of mole catching, knowing what to look for in the design of a good mole trap. A good design is a trap that is simple to use and gives a very high percentage rate for catching moles, provided that the trap is set in the run, as shown on this website.

 

There must be tens of thousands of mole traps lying in sheds that need to be altered if they are to be used for catching moles. If you have a lot of traps that need altering, you might find that you only need to alter 2 traps as you will be able to catch moles that much easier.

 

Nobody today would know what is a good design for a scissor mole trap without comparing the difference between the mole traps made before 1970's and today's mole traps. I have not seen any scissor mole traps that are widely sold in retail stores that did not need modifying since the 1960's.

Buying tunnel traps is not the answer.

 

I hope one day that agricultural retailers will realise that they are not helping the general public in selling badly designed and inferior made scissor mole traps.

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Email received 20/05/2013

Mole catching is something I have to take part in sporadically, I have a cat which catches moles (only in warmer temperatures) and he has caught two recently, but more mole hills were appearing and my traps were being filled up.  I read your site yesterday, modified my straight legged traps and filed and oiled as instructed.  I made the tee handle off I went.  Two moles in twelve hours with two traps.  Your instructions could not have been more successful.
DW
 

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Words of Advice

 

Don't fall into the trap, (pardon the expression) of buying more traps, because you are told that you would have a better chance of catching moles.

There is no point in setting more than two traps in a field, until you know that you can catch moles with them. By setting more than two traps and the traps keep going off without catching a mole, this is only going to make the problem a lot worse. Setting more traps is being hopeful, without identifying the problems.

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I am going to have a moan!

 

In the past I have spoken to two farming based retailers and told them that the traps that they are selling are useless. The reply I got was 'we sell a lot of traps and we do get people saying that they cannot catch anything, but we sell a lot of traps'. I also read that you should buy a lot of traps if you are going to catch any moles because the expected catching rate is up to 25%.

What is actually happening is that the people are not catching the moles, the moles are breeding and moving onto new territory. More people then go and buy new traps and they don't catch the moles and the moles breed and move onto even more new territory. Guess what, more traps are then sold. This is a guaranteed way of selling more traps every year. All the manufacturer is interested in, is reducing the cost of making a mole trap. I have seen over the last 40 years, is that in every decade the design or how a mole trap is made gets worse and is not fit for the purpose for catching moles.

It appears to me that it is not in the manufacturers or retailers interests to sell traps like they were made before the 1960's, because more people would catch more moles using 75% less traps. Less people would need to buy traps as there would be less moles breeding for the moles to move onto new territory.

 

I wrote the above moan in 2009 and now in 2010 it is widely reported that there is a mole population explosion. I could see this coming because there are too many mole traps being sold which are useless for mole catching. Also there is never any sensible instructions on how to set a trap.

I hope this website has changed the problem of no sensible instructions.

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Mole Catching Stories That Happened in 2009.

 

A friend asked me if I could come and catch moles in a her garden/paddock which was making an awful mess. As I was living 5 miles away, I set 4 traps and 3 moles were soon caught and there were no more moles after that. What we did not know at the time was that a neighbour two doors away had got a mole catcher in to catch moles in their garden. He set 12 brand new mole traps on a very small area and charged them £20 per trap which included having to buy the traps. No moles were caught and there was also no more mole problems. I believe that I had caught them in my friends garden, as her garden was nearer to a place for water.

There are not many householders, it does not matter how big their gardens are, that need to have more than two traps.

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The quickest mole that I have ever trapped, happened before I had finished setting the trap. I had put matted grass on the trap and then I had to get some soil, which was two yards away, to put over the matted grass. As I turned to go and put the soil around the trap, a mole had already been caught.

 

Mole Catching Story 2010

The chairman of a local cricket team asked me if I would show him how to catch moles, (he does not use a computer), as he was desperate because the moles have nearly got to the cricket square. On January 25th 2010, I found that the outfield was quite a mess from the molehills and everywhere was very wet. I did find three places where the mole run was not full of water so that I could explain to the chairman on how to set a trap. Note, he did the work, I did the talking!

Within a short time he had caught 3 moles and very relieved that the moles are not going to get onto the cricket square. It is now a waiting game to see if there are any more to catch. (5 more moles have now been caught. March 2010). The traps used would have been bought in the 1950's and were perfect for the job. In less than a fortnight from me showing the chairman how to catch moles he has now been asked by other people, if he can go and catch their moles!

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100 years of this type of scissor mole trap.

Traps 1 & 2. These traps were found in the cellar of an old vicarage. Age c1900-1910.
Trap 3. From the 1920s. Trap 4. From the 1950s. Trap 5. From the 1960s to the 1980s.
Trap 6. From the 1990s to the present day. There are several different makes of traps, all with this shape that are useless for mole catching. You have to buy a lot of them, rely on myths and hope for the best! That is my assessment of them until the shape has been altered to look similar to traps 3, 4 or 5.

Manufacturers of traps that look similar to no. 6, have not got a clue on mole trapping and therefore they have no idea how to construct a trap that is fit for the purpose.

They probably thought that if they straightened the legs of the trap, they could get more in a box and save costs on transport!

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To sum up the setting of a scissor mole trap using the

John Finnemore Method

Traps need to be of a certain shape with an opening width of 2" at the foot of the legs. The setting ring must be able to move 180º from left to right.

Traps need to be wider than the width of the hole with the run compacted  with a T-handle and hammer.

Traps set into the side of the hole with the setting ring ¾" above bottom of the run.

Always check that the trap will close fast when it is in the hole, before covering it up with soft matted grass and soil.

Do all that for a guaranteed way of catching moles.

It is easy when you know how.

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Emails Received

Many thanks for the emails that I have received. I have published some of them here because it is a great help for people to see what is being achieved by following the advice on this website. J.F.

 

Putting a face to this website!

Yours truly on holiday in Norway. May 2011

 
 
News Extra
 

Why not advertise locally, "Wanted, old mole traps. Any condition considered" 

There must be tens of thousands of mole traps lying in sheds and not being used and it is surprising what a bit of rust removing and oiling will do. An old rusty trap could be far better than buying a new trap.

I have been given old traps and I know other people have been given old traps which are not wanted anymore with the curved legs which are far better than the modern traps if you are unable to reshape the legs.

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Why is there a difference in the setting ring being 5/8" high on a flat surface and 3/4" high in the mole run.

These measurements are for the "No. 1402 Scissor Mole trap", "Defenders Mole Claw Trap" and others that are similar.

I have had several emails asking me about my trap measurements when I say that when the trap is placed on a flat surface, the setting ring is 5/8" high and when the trap is placed in a mole run then the setting ring is 3/4" high.

These two measurements are correct because you will always find that the ground at the side of a mole run is higher than the centre and therefore the setting ring will be higher when the trap is placed in a mole run. This is fine, provided that the setting ring is 3/4" high. You will often find that a groove will have to be made with the trap at the side of the mole run in order that the setting ring is not too high.

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Useful tip when setting a trap.

When you are preparing the hole to set the trap, the trap often needs to be put in the hole several times before finally covering the run up. It is best for the trap to be put into the hole the same way each time otherwise the trap will be making bigger grooves into the side of the hole than is necessary. If your trap has two identical handles, then it will help if you mark one of the mole trap handles with a piece of tape, paint or anything, as this will save time and help you to put the trap in the hole, the same way each time.

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As the trap was not set to my own instructions, I could not catch the mole!

I have a field where the soil can only be described as black fen-like and I found it very difficult to make a hole small enough for the trap, using a normal size trowel because the soil was so soft, loose and wet. The sides of the hole would easily squash outwards, making the hole too wide, when trying to remove soil with the trowel on an angle from the run.

I decided the answer could be to use a narrower trowel, so I went and bought a narrow trowel with a solid stem to the handle. This trowel has measurements on it for planting out plants to a certain depth which is not needed to set a trap. I found the trowel was too pointed to scoop soil from the mole run so I grounded off the point to make it more rounded.

This proved ideal for keeping the hole narrow in order to have a tight fitting trap and not disturbing the side of the hole when removing soil from the run. I then compacted the run, set a trap and a mole was caught the next day.

If the hole is ending up too wide, use a narrower trowel.

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Now is the best time of the year to set mole traps, before moles start breeding and the vegetation gets too long.

It is always more difficult to set traps in the winter months than when the ground starts to dry up from March onwards.

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Some people have been making their own T-handle to compact the mole run but I am finding that it is better if the ends of the handle are tapered as on a commercially made one and not the same diameter for the whole length of the handle. This allows the handle to go up the mole run easier when compacting the soil. Only taper the sides that do not come in contact with the bottom of the run when compacting the soil.

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This was a new experience for me.

I was asked if I would go and give a talk to members of an organisation, on mole catching. The course was fully booked and I have now been asked if I will do another one for members who missed out on the first course.

I made a PowerPoint presentation which was shown in the morning and then practical experience, out in the field in the afternoon. The course took place on November 23rd 2011.

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If you still are unable to catch moles after following my instructions, please tell me about it. I am sure I can help.    john@walcotefarm.co.uk

If you are catching moles, or more moles became of my instructions, please tell me about it. I am trying to produce a website that everybody understands on the setting of a mole trap.

I have most experience of the traps shown on this site, that I have mentioned, are good for catching moles but all other types of traps would benefit by my way of compacting the soil in the mole run. 

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How to set a scissor mole trap.

Quick instructions for setting a mole trap.

The Best Places To Set A Mole Trap.

Mole Catching at Walcote Farm 2010.

Choosing which traps to buy.

My life story on mole catching.

Correcting badly designed mole traps.

More of the many emails that I have received.

Mole

If you still cannot catch moles, here are some alternative ways!

Video. Very funny.

Jasper Carrott on mole catching.

I found this video still pictures from America and it appears that the mole catcher has got some of the information from my website. I do not recommend to set a trap quite like this, for guaranteed results!

YouTube - how to catch a mole with scissor type traps

 

A Scottish Mole Catcher lyric.

http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/song-midis/Molecatcher.htm

 
   
My special way of setting a mouse trap
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John Finnemore, Walcote Farm, Warwickshire.

john@walcotefarm.co.uk