Camera trap ideas

So I’ve been thinking of setting up some trail cameras in the State forest areas in the South-west of Australia, it’d be great if somebody could give me tips on camera placement for optimal activity (eg granites, mountains, deer runs)
Also, as Ill be using several cameras, the best affordable brands and models of camera traps would be great, I have a trusty Browning trailcam but they are over 300 dollars, and 5 more of them would break my budget.
I was also hoping somebody from America might be able to give me tips on the best ways to find a big cat such as a mountain lion… Bit of a strange ask from someone in Aus but I can give more info if you like

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If water becomes scarce at any point then a camera covering a good place for animals to drink will always get a lot of activity.


Thanks for the comment, I did think a water source would be a good place to put a camera, and might do it still, but my only problem is that theres plenty of water around; its a very wet area

I think my most productive traps have been along game trails, at food sources, or at mineral sources.


With camera traps, keep in mind where the sun is going to rise and set and try to position your camera so the sun is mostly at its back. Vegetation in your field of view will be a problem if it’s windy (false triggering) so minimize that as much as possible. I used a scythe at one camera site because grass kept growing up in front of camera and I had to keep it mowed down.


look for game trails…lots of animals use them :) really, they like paths of least resistance. If its pretty open and can’t see much trail think about your terrain, where do things ‘funnel’ to, topographically? set something there.
for bobcat, i catch those along open (human) trails the most - when moving they don’t seem to care about being stealthy

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The Cleveland Metroparks here in NE Ohio, U.S.A. conducted a mammal survey with over 300 cameras in the various parks about 5+ years ago. I was one of the volunteers who reviewed some the hundreds of thousands of photos taken to try to ID the animals captured by the cameras. (The volunteers were eventually dismissed because a local company developed a computer program to review the images.) Here are my thoughts from looking through many, many photos:

If you find a good spot where you are getting a lot of results, adjust the camera view and maybe add a second camera. Put one camera low to the ground to try to get a close view and one camera slightly higher up pointing down to get a wider angle view. As a reviewer of the images, it was frustrating to get only part of an animal in a photo. A second camera with a wider view would have captured the whole animal.

Don’t be discouraged by your initial results. Check the cameras and images regularly, and adjust positions if needed. You may get a lot of photos with nothing. But, that’s the nature of those cameras. They can be triggered by the slightest movement.

Make sure your cameras are well hidden. The Cleveland Metroparks had chains to secure the cameras to trees, and GPS trackers in the cameras to track them should they be stolen. Yes - it’s a sad reality that someone might steal a camera.

Go to the Zooniverse website. It is a citizen science site where you can participate in various research projects. Researchers post their Project and anyone can view photos to try to identify or count subjects. In each Project is a Talk section where you can post questions to a forum. So, find a good wildlife project that appears to get good results (clear photos) and ask the project managers for advice. I would bet that there is a project in Australia. Scientists from around the world use Zooniverse. You may find a project that you want to participate in.

The Cleveland Metroparks used Zooniverse. It allowed volunteers to participate from anywhere they could get an Internet connection.

Here is a link to that website:


I will reiterate the need for a 2nd camera at each site.

Lots of things can muck up detections/trigger events if you only have a single camera there. Animals moving quickly, late detections, wind-blown vegetation, sun angle (which in addition to helping/hindering your ability to ID animals at a site, can also cause its own false trigger events).

When I managed a network of camera traps (I had around 60 cameras in TX), I paired them per location, put them about 3m apart from each other at different angles to the spot I was targeting. I would pool the images from both cameras for a single site and used the time stamps to determine if images between the two cameras were from the same trigger event, or whether it was a case where only one of the cameras triggered for an animal.

If I had lots of tall grasses near my cameras, I also trimmed that stuff down. For woody vegetation, I wouldn’t trim very much. I would focus more on camera placement and aiming to minimize interference. I would generally try to minimize my disturbance to the site so that I could maintain cover for animals that might be passing by.

Choosing spots for cameras can take attention to detail and honestly some knowledge/experience with tracking so you can identify where animals have passed. With my camera trap project, I was specifically targeting a handful of species. I got excellent results for one of those species (river otters) but not really much for the others (only one spotted skunk detection, zero longtailed weasel detections, zero American badger detections). Part of that might have been due to my own lack of knowledge in identifying landscape features those species prefer. River otters are comparably easy in that regard.


I supervise volunteers who run 44 cameras in a California State Park. We get lots of mountain lions. I’d be glad to answer any questions you have about getting them on camera.

In addition to previous suggestions, you can add an attractant to bring animals into view of your camera. In the US commercial trapping lures are available, but you can also use more readily available attractants such as canned cat food or even Thai fish sauce or apple slices. For mountain lions or other mammal species of interest, look for tracks on trails or dirt roads and place cameras where you find the tracks or other sign of their presence.

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I was told the canned cat food for spotted skunks…We are in range-ish, but not the typical habitat, but the TN researcher working on them said she’s seen them in all sorts of “non-typical habitats”. I was supposed to do that this october…and forgot.

Thanks heaps for all your comments, they will be extremely helpful when i do set out the cameras. Does anyone have ideas about preferred habitats/ den habitats/ best ways to see a big cat other than by camera trapping?

In TX, I tried using commercial scent lures (I used a combo of 3 to attract all of the species I was targeting) and the one spotted skunk I did detect didn’t seem to be interested in the lures. It just seemed to be a good location for the cameras along a trail. The lures I used attracted a LOT of animals, though, and it’s entirely possible that all of the raccoons and striped skunks and coyotes and bobcats and whatnot interested in the scent lures kept the spotted skunks at a distance.

I’d be curious to know how much other stuff the canned cat food attracts along with the spotted skunks. My office mate in grad school used tinned sardines to live trap opossums, striped skunks, and raccoons, and AFAIK, he didn’t trap any nontarget species. I’m certain he’d have told me if he had trapped a spotted skunk.

Gusto is a “broad-spectrum” lure and seems to bring in a wide range of carnivores and curious ungulates. It’s pretty smelly stuff and you don’t want to get it on you.

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yep. that’s one of the lures I used.

Hey snakesrcool - we’ve just been testing a new camera trap, called CamBush, for a wolf project in Switzerland. Just done some bench-testing so far, haven’t yet deployed in the field.

So far, I’m very excited about the video we’re going to capture as the trap is triggered by remote IR beams so recording begins before the wolf enters the frame from various directions - and multiple cameras can be triggered by a single beam-break. The guts of each camera has a 4K Sony camera with 1" sensor, so our test footage looks pretty special (I think they’re used by BBC and Discovery).

Their products aren’t cheap but I think you can hire so might still work for your budget:


I’ve always wondered what camera trap rigs were used by professional crews for nature documentary projects because the ones I’ve had access to from a wildlife research angle always produced images of insufficient quality.

I’ve seen some custom-built stuff from time to time, but the widespread use of this kind of footage in recent years made me think there had to be some kind of commercial solution.


Thanks for that, i had a good look at their products and am very impressed at the quality there; definitely a product i would like to try out someday if i get the chance, but at the moment there’s probably not the same need for video quality, or enough evidence to warrant hiring expensive equipment. Id be very interested to see what the field setups in Switzerland capture though!

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Oops, i just realised that i havent really explained what the cameras are for-
Theres been a lot of talk in the past and even recently about a feral population of Puma concolor in the state forest in the deep southwest. Being a very isolated, untouched forest with mountains and huge areas of forest near where i live, I’ve been in and around it quite a bit. Most of the older farmers in the area swear that there’s big cats living in the jarrah forests and granite outcrops deep within, and recently I’ve become a little intrigued with the whole situation. Im still definitely not convinced, but there are quite a few people I wouldnt take for liars that claim theyve seen it. I’ve done a lot of research and a lot of talking to people about it, and the evidence is substantial. Being a cynic, im not going to believe it till i have good photographic evidence, but imagine how good the Inat record would be haha

feral Puma concolor in SW Australia? Now that’s an interesting consideration. Any theories on their origin?

I’ve lived in a couple areas with native populations and a couple areas with widely rumored populations (typically dispersing individuals from populations much further away) and it’s always interesting hearing about reports. I live in an area now where I’ve encountered home security camera footage that the homeowners claim showed P. concolor but on review, to my eye, clearly did not. Perspective distortion in wide angle cameras and lack of known size references easily confuse people. Every case for me was just a housecat, and regardless of your experience level and wildlife knowledge, the homeowners won’t hear anything else. It’s funny and also frustrating.

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