This article originally appeared in Wildlife Control Technology Magazine.
As a full time animal damage controller, I am engaged in a never ending quest to find items or techniques that make my job easier or more professional.
The Y Stick
I had been fairly happy with using “y” sticks as holders for bait in my cage traps. They were cheap (free) and worked really well. But my honey moon was soon over when I started having some problems. Some times I would have to spend too much time searching for bait sticks. It seemed that some residents kept their property cleared of broken branches and trimmed their trees. It just didn’t look good raiding some bush for a usable “y” branch. Sure I would stock up on them when I had the chance but they would sometimes break as from the jostling they got in the back of my truck. Traps moving in and out, bait containers being tossed inside would be too much for the dry sticks to handle. I needed another option.
The other problem with the “y” stick was that the two ends protruded above the cage. You might not consider that a big problem. It isn’t when the weather is warm and dry. But I live in New England. I often want to protect my bait and trigger area from snow and rain. The “y’ stick prevented me from laying stones or boards above this area. Doing so would only break the sticks or roll the angle of the stick into a bad angle making it too easy for an animal to misfire it. I needed another option.
The Bait Sponge
One day I received the bait sponge in the mail. I recognized them immediately. In hospitals, we call them Toothettes. They are small sponges attached to the end of lollipop type stick. They are about five inches long (including the sponge). The sponge is about an inch long and an inch wide. It has ridges formed into the sponge because they are actually used as tooth brushes or as mouth moisteners/refreshers. This one was modified however. The trap dealer had added a metal wire to the end of the stick so that it could be hung from the cage. I thought this was great. The answer to my problem had been found. Here is how you can make some sponge bait sticks on your own.
First contact the maker Sage Products Inc. by calling 815-455-4700 or by writing 815 Tek Drive Cyrstal Lake, IL 60014. Ask them for hospital Toothettes. You want the plain variety. You can purchase the flavored kind if you want your bait stick to smell like mint/peppermint. You also don’t want sterile ones. Why pay extra for something you don’t need? Chances are you won’t be purchasing enough Toothettes for them to sell to you directly. Instead they will put you in touch with a regional distributor.
Once they arrive in the mail, get some thin wire and attach it to the end of the stick. Some just take a wire paper clip, cut it so that you have two ‘U’ shaped wires and then insert one end into the top of the paper stick. I don’t like this method because I don’t trust it to hold. But that is just a personal bias and is not based on experience. My method is to use some electric fence wire, cut it a small piece then wrap around the stick and then bend the tail into a “u”. Whichever method you use. I am sure it will work well for you.
I have found that they work great as paste bait holders. They are strong enough to scrape peanut butter out of a container provided the peanut butter hasn’t hardened. I have even reused them. I do have a couple of cautionary notes. First, unlike the ‘y’ stick, Toothettes aren’t natural. So if the animal chews them up and some do, you may have to pick up the remains. It is not a lot of trash, usually just the wire/stick which has been separated from the sponge but you don’t want to leave them on the property. I have not found this to be a big problem but it is a negative to be aware of. The second, problem is cost. “y “ sticks are free. On the other hand you have to consider the client. Using a bait sponge may make you appear more professional. Using a “y” stick could have the client saying that “hey, I could have done that”. Third, I haven’t found the sponges to be very effective in holding liquid baits. It seems that they don’t have enough sponge power to hold enough to overcome evaporation.
I think that Toothettes make an excellent addition to the box trapper’s arsenal. Try them out for yourself and see if you agree.
Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACP, MNI
Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Ó 1997, 2012 Stephen M. Vantassel
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
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