Disable trap when cage closed
One of the problems that our customers have identified with our high interaction rate trap (HIRT) is that once an animal has been caught in a cage, the trap resets and another animal may walk in and trigger the trap. If the cage is closed then the trapped animal has nowhere to go and may force it's way out of the blinds, dig out, or simply escape when the blinds open again in 10 minutes. An animal that has this experience my become trap shy and be unlikely to interact with these traps again.
This isn't always the case. This video is an example of a mother and joey possum where the joey gets caught and the mother hung around for most of the night. She was caught the next night.
Our initial, partial solution to this was to have the option of having 2 cages in the trap, so if a 2nd animal came in then it could be caught by the 2nd cage. However this happens so rarely that it is hard to justify the cost of the 2nd cage. You may also be in exactly the same situation if a 3rd animal turns up.
Another potential solution we have trialled with customers is to make it so the trap only triggers once per night. This was actually how the trap initially worked before it had the self resetting mechanism. Unfortunately false positives are reasonably common. This is where the trap closes when there is not an animal there, for example with wind blowing grass. One false positive and the trap is rendered useless until it is reset the next night. In this case you can miss trapping animals that you would have otherwise got.
Our customer in the Cayman Islands has had great success with our traps, finding that they are 10x more effective at catching cats than normal cage traps. However they had one night where or trap caught a rat, the HIRT opened it's blinds after 10 minutes and a feral tomcat arrived, trying to get to the rat. The tom was caught by the trap, but with no open cage had nowhere to go and managed to escape, probably a lot more wary.
They asked us to make a cage switch that would disable the trap once the cage is closed. We've built a small control box to do this. The box plugs between the battery and the trap controller. The way it works is there is a magnetic switch that is positioned on the cage door so when the cage is closed the switch opens. When the switch opens the power to the trap controller is disconnected after 13 minutes. The 13 minutes gives the trap time to re-open the blinds and reset.
Having the blinds open means that animals can still walk through the trap. Hopefully a trapped animal in the cage will encourage this, like the mother & joey and cat & rat examples above. Having animals walk through the cage should create a positive scent trail. The video below shows the impact a scent trail can have.
We think this is a good idea and this cage switch will be provided as an option on all new traps.