Home > Trappers education > You are here: Explaining the foothold trap

Explaining the foothold trap*

Foothold traps are designed to catch an animal by the foot. These traps are also called “leghold” traps. Foothold traps are used to restrain an animal. There are two types of foothold traps: coilspring traps and longspring traps.

An animal’s foot is very tough. It is made up of small bones, cartilage, and a heavy pad. There are very few nerve endings in the foot, and an animal experiences little discomfort if its foot is gripped in a trap. It is important to consider the size of the animal and select an appropriate size foothold trap to use for it. A trap that is too large could grip the animal too high on the leg and cause injury. Always use the smallest trap that will reliably hold the animal. Laws and regulations limit the size of foothold traps that may be used on land.

Foothold traps can be used on land or in the water. In land trapping, foothold traps offer an advantage because they restrain the animal but do not kill it. Non-target animals can be released alive from foothold traps that are set on land. This is an important factor where domestic animals are concerned. When foothold traps are used in the water, they can be fastened so the captured animal will drown.

Foothold traps can be used for any type of animal on land or in the water. This is one of their advantages. They are also easy to conceal. This is another advantage. Some animals, like fox and coyote, are very wary. Foothold traps are a good choice for these animals.

Click here to see a picture showing the parts of a foothold trap.

Click here to learn how to set a foothold trap.

*Editor's note:  This information has been copied from the Ohio Division of Wildlife's website and Trapper Education Manual.  The ODNR's copyright policy states "Information presented on this (Ohio Division of Wildlife) site is considered public information and may be distributed or copied unless otherwise noted. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is required."  Wild-About-Trapping.com has taken all possible steps to comply with the ODNR policy and thanks them for the generous use of this information.  We sincerely hope that young trappers will make the best of this information to increase their trapping enjoyment and success.


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