The Arapuca bird trap is a primitive trap that was originally used by the Guarani to capture live animals for food or even pets. The construction of the Arapuca trap is quite simple and straight forward. It consists of a basic cage shape held together with some type of cordage, and held up by a simple yet effective trigger system. This trap is usually about a foot and a half wide and about a foot tall, but they can be scaled up to capture larger game such as rabbits, raccoons, or even monkeys.

In this post we are going to show you how to use this primitive technique to your advantage and to work for you during a survival situation by helping you catch the kind of food that doesn't spoil quickly....The live kind.



Collection of materials needed to build the arapuca bird trap

Step 1: Gather materials.

      A few simple tools and materials are needed for this project:

  • 4-5' of some kind of cordage material
  • a cutting tool to carve your trigger pieces
  • a few dozen straight sticks about the width of your thumb
  • two  long twigs about the width of a pencil
  • one short stout stick about the width of your pinky finger
  • and one small stick with a "Y" in it


Base stick length

Step 2: Cut your base sticks.

        First you need to cut your base sticks. These will be two sticks cut to about a foot and a half long from your thumb-sized stick pile. For me this is about the length from the crook of my elbow to the tip of my fingers.


Cordage length example

Step 3: Cut your cordage.

       Next cut two pieces of cordage about 2 feet long. For me this is about the length of my armpit to the tip of my palm.


Tied ends for arapuca bird trap construction
building arapuca bird trap

Step 4: Tie and twist.

         Tie the opposite ends of each stick together and then take one of the sticks and twist it end over end.


Laying sticks for arapuca bird trap
crafting arapuca bird trap

Step 5: Start stacking.

        Next you're going to start stacking in your sticks from your pile you collected. Break or cut them off so there is about an inch or so extra on each end when stacking them. This will naturally cause the stack to start to "taper" off towards the top. Pinch the "X" created in the center of the cordage and lift up so you can slide the sticks underneath perpendicular to the row below. Make sure to pull each pair of sticks tight in the opposite direction of each other, putting tension on the cordage and keeping everything tight.


How to make arapuca bird trap

Step 6: Alternate and repeat.

        Next repeat the previous step, but stacking the sticks in the opposite direction. Again, make sure you pull the sticks tight in the opposite direction after each row.

Finishing arapuca bird trap cage
Finished cage of arapuca bird trap

Step 7: Finish the cage.

        Keep alternating direction and trimming your sticks to the appropriate size and eventually you come to a point when it becomes difficult to go up to the next level. At that point we finish off the cage by simply trimming up enough sticks to cover the top of the cage like in the picture above. After that the cage portion of the trap is finished.

trigger parts for arapuca bird trap
support stick for arapuca bird trap

Step 8: Carve the support stick.

        Next we move on to carving out the trigger set for this trap. The first part of the set we need is the support stick. For this we need a small pinky sized stick with a "Y" at the end. Trim off the "Y" arms and shorten them up (this "Y" shape will hold one of the base sticks on the bottom of your cage and propping one end of the cage up). Next cut the opposite end off about 4 inches long but leave the end at an angle. Finally cut a notch like in the picture above about a third of the way down from the "Y".

support and fulcrum stick

Step 9: Carve the fulcrum stick.

        After you get the support stick carved, you need to carve the fulcrum stick. This is a simple piece that is just a 6 inch or so stick cut flat on one end and sharpened to a wedge shape on the other end. The wedge fits into the notch carved into the support stick.

setting the trigger sticks on the support stick

Step 10: Carve the trigger sticks.

        For the final piece of the trigger set you are going to need to cut two thin sticks about a foot long, each with one flat end and one end sharpened to an angle type point. The flat part of the stick needs to reach to the bottom of the trap to the flat angled part of the support stick like in the picture above. You may need to trim your stick to fit the size of your trap.

setting trigger sticks for arapuca bird trap
Trap set for arapuca bird trap

Step 11: Set the trap.

        Finally it's time to set the trap. Take one of the base sticks and place it in the "Y" of the support stick. Next, in one hand, set the support stick (with one end of the cage in it's "Y") on top of the fulcrum stick, matching the notch in the support stick to the chisel in the fulcrum stick. With the other hand, wedge the flat end of the trigger sticks against the bottom of the cage that is touching the ground, and carefully balance the angled end of the trigger sticks on the angled end of the support stick.

        If done correctly, the trigger sticks will stop the support stick from bucking up under the weight of the cage, setting the trap with a hair trigger. Make sure you place your bait for the trap at the back end of the trap in between the two trigger sticks. The key is to get your target prey to bump one of the trigger sticks, releasing the cage down on top of it.

Reaching in arapuca bird trap

Step 12: Pull out your catch.

        If you were fortunate enough to capture something it is very important to pull out your catch in the appropriate way. You can always spear through the trap dispatching your prey instantly, but if you wanted to keep them alive until you needed them make sure you never lift the cage from the bottom. If you do, you risk your catch escaping out the bottom by creating 3 possible escape routes when you can only cover one at a time. 

        Instead what you should do is take one of the sticks of the trap and slide it back far enough so you r hand can fit through and reach in and grab the animal. That way there is no where for the animal to go except into your hand. Be careful though, cornered animals are far more likely to bite and defend themselves.

Arapuca bird trap

        The ability to capture live prey can be an invaluable resource for you in a survival situation. Whether it be for food, companionship, or to use as bait to capture larger animals, the Arapuca bird trap is well worth it's weight in gold.

        The wise survivalist sets many traps all suited to specific needs and situations. This allows the trap to do all the work and leaving the survivor free to do other important tasks. This could be the difference between life and death in a survival situation.

        Be sure to check back regularly for new how-to and gear review posts and videos. Thanks for stopping by and remember, waiting.


~The WG Team


With 15+ years of outdoors experience, dirt runs through my veins. When I was a child, often I would slip away with nothing more than a pack of matches and a kitchen knife to go on my "outdoor adventures". More than a decade and a half later I'm still here, with new adventures, a little nicer equipment, and a bit more wisdom.


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