How to make a bottle trap

Bottle-traps are simple to make, and if used with care can be a great way to get a close look at local waterlife.

Before putting out your trap, be aware that great crested newts are a protected species so you must not use these traps if you know or suspect they are present. Only ecologists with a survey licence can use bottle trapping, or any other methods, to interfere with, catch or pick up great crested newts.


As this type of bottle trap is completely submerged, you must check the trap every few minutes to ensure no wildlife has become stuck in the neck. Do not leave the trap unattended as water-breathing insects, newts and other species may drown.

All illustrations by Alan Batley


Take a plastic bottle and remove the labels and cap. Carefully cut off the top of the bottle.




Make small holes in the ‘feet’ and centre of the bottle’s base to allow water to flow through.



Insert the top back into the bottle. Pierce both layers of plastic on either side, and tie a string handle through the holes.




Bait the bottle and place in the water (base downstream). Secure by tying the rope handle around a stick placed in the streambed, and by positioning pebbles around the trap.