How to Trap a Ring Tail Cat

Explore America's Campgrounds

The ringtail cat is not a member of the cat family but rather a relative of the raccoon. They are found over much of the American West; however, their greatest numbers are in the Southwest in dry terrain. Ringtails are nocturnal omnivores that eat almost anything they can find on their nightly hunts. Their curiosity to hunt out dark holes makes the cubby pen set a perfect trap set for taking them. A size 1 longspring or jump trap is the proper size.

Items you will need

  • Steel traps

  • Rebar wire

  • Hatchet

  • Trowel

  • Bait

Step 1

Locate a place where ringtails are living and hunting. Look for tracks and fecal droppings as evidence of their activity.

Step 2

Make a three-sided pen by cutting sticks with the hatchet and using it to drive the sticks into the ground alongside each other, or make three walls out of chunks of wood or rocks. Make the pen so the inside area is 18 inches deep, 1 foot wide, and 18 inches high. Cover the top of the pen with branches or wood to keep birds out.

Step 3

Dig a depression in the opening of the pen big enough to place the set trap in and deep enough so the top of the trap is just below the level of the ground surface. Make the center of the depression 2 to 3 inches to one side or the other of the center of the opening.

Step 4

Place the set trap in the depression, so the animal must step between the jaws and not over one of them, and so that the trap pan is 1 to 2 inches off the center of the opening. Make sure the trap sits solidly and does not rock.

Step 5

Twist a double strand of rebar wire onto the trap chain ring and tie the other end of the wire to a solid object. Cover the trap lightly with the natural material around the trap set; also cover the chain and wire.

Step 6

Place bait in the back of the pen. You can use a piece of meat or fruit. Oily canned fish is also good bait, as the strong smell will carry a greater distance to attract the ringtail to the set.


  • Do not set traps in residential areas or where loose pets could be trapped.
  • If you catch a skunk or civet cat, also known as a spotted skunk, it is best to shoot it from a distance and not approach it while it is alive as it will spray you.


  • You can use a commercial trapping lure made for ringtail, skunk or raccoon along with the bait. Dip a small stick in the lure bottle and toss the stick in the back of the pen to draw the ringtail in from a longer distance.
  • A 6- to 8-inch-wide hole dug 10 inches deep into the ground, with the trap placed in front of the hole and bait in the back of the hole, is an effective and simple set for ringtail as well.
Gone Outdoors