Bow Traps of Thái Đen tribals in Vietnam

Bow traps are used by Black Thai tribal people in Northern Vietnam to catch small rodents. These ingenious devices are carved from pieces of bamboo and some strings. The closing force of the scissor comes from a bow-like structure above the shearing bar. Although this trap’s structure appears quite complicated, locals prefer it over the simpler-designed deadfall- and scissor traps.

Target animals

The primary targets of bow traps are:

Rats are only by-catches, as their movement behavior is different from mice, voles, and shrews.

The working principle of this bow trap

The used material is unspecified bamboo with long sections between the nodes. Especially the bow stave should be free of internodes.

Into the vertical assembly stick with a long slit, a base stick, and a shearing stick are added. From the base stick, a thin splinter will be wedged up, functioning as a tripping stick. A hairpin trigger between this tripping stick and the shearing stick is connected to a side lever, which – in turn – is holding up the shearing stick against the downward pressure of the bow stick. All the connections are done with plastic strings.

When an animal steps onto the tripping stick, the hairpin trigger will be released, allowing the side lever to snap up. This will release the connection string to the shearing stick. Consequently, the shearing stick will force its way down to the base stick under the pressure of the bow stick. Which immediately kills small animals inside.

Bow trap setting

Mice are active during the daytime and do not have preferred biomes, but they can be found anywhere. They use so-called ‘runs’ in the vegetation to move from one place to another. These are cleaned ‘roads’ for them to move fast from their dens to feeding places. In grass and dense vegetation, these runs can be seen. When such one is found, the bow trap will be set perpendicular to the run. All alternative ways around the trap will be closed with nearby vegetation. No bait will be used with this type of trap.

Locals prefer these described bow traps over scissor traps or commercially acquired traps. Because these bow traps are about 1 m high and can be set onto the mice runs from above. Therefore, there is no need to disturb the run and leave human olfactory traces.

Like deadfall traps for rats or scissor traps for mice, it is enough to check the traps every second day during wintertime. At all other seasons, these traps should be checked twice daily.

Lessons learned about Bow Traps of the Thái Đen tribal people:

  • Bow traps are primarily used for catching mice, voles, and shrews.
  • They are easy to make but quite complicated to assemble and adjust.
  • Locals prefer these traps over other types, as they can be set over mice runs from a distance.

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