How to Catch a Prairie Dog

How to Catch a Prairie Dog

You might be wondering, Why on earth would anyone want to catch a prairie dog? Well, there are several reasons! Some people catch them for relocation purposes, ensuring that they find a safe new home. Others do it for research purposes, contributing to our understanding of these fascinating creatures. And, of course, there are those who catch them to address pest control issues. 

Whatever your reason may be, this outline will help you navigate the process with ease. I’ve included in this article 5 ways on how to catch a Prairie Dog. Let’s get started!

How to Catch Prairie Dog

There are several ways to catch a Prairie Dog. Below are 5 different ways;

1. Live Traps

Live traps are a humane and popular method for catching prairie dogs. These traps are designed to safely capture the little critters without causing them harm. Simply place the trap near an active burrow entrance, bait it with their favorite treats, and wait patiently for them to wander in. Once they’re inside, you can release them in a new location or handle them with care for relocation or research purposes.

2. Snare Trapping

Snare trapping requires a bit more skill and caution, but it can be an effective method. This technique involves setting up a looped snare near a burrow entrance and carefully positioning it to catch the prairie dog as it enters or exits. It’s crucial to monitor the snares closely and release any non-target animals immediately.

3. Funnelling

Funnelling is a clever technique that takes advantage of the prairie dogs’ natural behavior. Using large boards or sheets of metal, create a funnel shape leading towards a trap or enclosure. The prairie dogs, being curious critters, will naturally follow the funnel and find themselves trapped at the end. It’s like their own little maze adventure!

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4. Long-Netting

Long-netting is a method commonly used by professionals or experienced prairie dog catchers. It involves setting up long nets strategically around the prairie dog colony. When the prairie dogs scamper around, they may get caught in the net, allowing you to safely capture them. This method requires expertise and precision to ensure the safety of both the prairie dogs and the catchers.

5. Digging

If you’re up for a more hands-on approach, you can try your hand at digging. This method involves locating active burrows and carefully excavating the tunnel system to catch the prairie dogs by hand. It requires patience, skill, and a gentle touch to avoid harming the animals or collapsing their burrows. Remember to wear gloves and handle the prairie dogs with care.

How to Trap a Prairie Dog 

It can be challenging to trap a Prairie Dog. However, this section brings to you a step by step approach to trap a Prairie Dog. 

Step 1: Select the Right Trap

Choose a suitable trap based on your preferences and the regulations in your area. Live traps, bucket traps, or PVC pipe traps are commonly used for prairie dogs.

Step 2: Determine Trap Placement

Locate active prairie dog burrows in the area. These burrows will have fresh mounds of soil and recent signs of activity. Place your trap near an active burrow entrance, ensuring it’s stable and won’t collapse.

Step 3: Set Up the Trap

Follow the instructions specific to the trap you’re using. For live traps, set the trigger mechanism and ensure the trap door is in proper working condition. For bucket traps, position the bucket in a dug hole, covering it with a board or plywood, leaving a small entrance. If using a PVC pipe trap, construct it with the hinged end open for prairie dogs to enter.

Step 4: Bait the Trap

Use enticing baits to attract the prairie dogs into the trap. Fresh fruits, vegetables, or commercially available rodent baits can be effective. Place the bait inside the trap, near the entrance or on the trigger mechanism, depending on the trap design.

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Step 5: Monitor the Trap

Regularly check the trap to minimize stress and prevent harm to captured prairie dogs. Check at least once or twice a day to ensure the captured prairie dogs are not exposed to extreme weather conditions or predators for an extended period.

When you have eventually captured the prairie dog, handle it with care using gloves to protect yourself and the animal. If you’re relocating the prairie dog, choose a suitable release site away from human settlements and close to suitable habitat. If you’re releasing on your property, follow local guidelines and regulations.

Other Ways to Catch a Prairie Dog Using Trap

1. Bucket Traps

Bucket traps can be an effective and relatively simple method. Dig a hole near an active burrow entrance and place a bucket or container inside, making sure the rim is level with the ground. Cover the hole with a piece of plywood or a board, leaving a small opening for the prairie dogs to access the trap. Place bait inside the bucket, and when the prairie dogs climb in to get to the treat, the board will give way, and they’ll fall into the bucket. Just be sure to monitor the traps regularly to release the prairie dogs safely.

2. PVC Pipe Traps

This DIY trap is easy to construct and can be quite effective. Cut a section of PVC pipe and cap one end. Attach a hinge to the capped end and place bait inside the pipe. Set the pipe near a burrow entrance, making sure it’s stable and won’t roll away. When the prairie dog enters the pipe to reach the bait, gently lift the hinged end and close it, trapping the prairie dog inside. Handle with care and release as soon as possible.

3. Funnel Traps

Similar to funneling, this method involves creating a funnel-shaped enclosure around an active burrow entrance. Use fencing or chicken wire to form the funnel, narrowing it down towards a smaller opening where the prairie dogs can enter but have difficulty exiting. Once they’re inside, you can safely capture and relocate them as needed.

4. Remote-Controlled Traps

For those looking for a high-tech approach, remote-controlled traps might be the way to go. These traps can be remotely triggered, allowing you to catch prairie dogs from a distance. They often use sensors or motion detection mechanisms to trigger the trap, ensuring a more hands-off approach to capturing the critters.

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How to Capture a Prairie Dog 

To capture a prairie dog, start by selecting a suitable trapping method such as live traps or snare trapping. Locate active burrows by looking for fresh soil mounds and set up the trap near an entrance. Bait the trap with enticing food and regularly monitor it to check for captured prairie dogs, ensuring their well-being. 

How to Get a Prairie Dog out of its Hole

Getting a prairie dog out of its hole can be a bit challenging, but here are a few methods you can use;

1. Create Disturbances

Make gentle noises or vibrations near the entrance of the burrow. This can mimic the presence of a predator and prompt the prairie dog to emerge to investigate.

2. Use Light and Shadows

Shine a flashlight or direct sunlight near the entrance of the burrow. The change in lighting conditions may make the prairie dog feel exposed and more likely to come out.

3. Offer Tempting Treats

Place some enticing food near the burrow entrance to lure the prairie dog out. Fresh fruits or vegetables can be appealing to their taste buds and may encourage them to venture out of the hole.

4. Use Water

Pouring water near the burrow entrance can create an uncomfortable or flooded environment for the prairie dog, encouraging it to emerge. However, ensure that the water does not pose any harm or danger to the animal or its habitat.

5. Natural Predators’ Sounds

Play recordings of natural predators of prairie dogs, such as the calls of coyotes or hawks. The sound of potential danger can prompt the prairie dog to exit its burrow for safety.

6. Utilize Fumigation Devices

In some cases, fumigation devices or smoke generators specifically designed for wildlife control can be used to create a temporary irritant or discomfort near the burrow entrance. This may encourage the prairie dog to evacuate the hole.

What is the Best Way to Catch a Prairie Dog?

The best way to catch a prairie dog is to use live traps specifically designed for capturing small rodents. Place the traps near active burrow entrances, bait them with enticing food, and regularly monitor them to ensure the captured prairie dogs’ well-being. Live traps are considered humane as they safely capture the prairie dogs without causing harm.

What is the Best Bait for Prairie Dogs?

Some of the best bait for Prairie Dogs include fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, or sweet potatoes. Other options include commercially available bait formulated for capturing small rodents. 


While catching prairie dogs is generally safe, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Prairie dogs can carry diseases such as plague, so it’s important to take proper precautions when handling them, such as wearing gloves and washing hands thoroughly afterward. Additionally, be cautious of the potential for bites or scratches, as prairie dogs may become defensive or scared during capture.

About Author

Bruno C.

I am a professional content writer, a pet lover, an agriculture enthusiast and an innovative thinker. I appreciate performing the research required to keep my articles relevant, current, and engaging, and I bring my industry expertise and experience to every project I tackle.

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