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2006/125/1 Rabbit trap, 'Ace', metal, made by Henry Lane (Australia) Ltd, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, 1935-1960. Click to enlarge.

'Ace' rabbit trap made by Henry Lane (Australia) Ltd

Steel-jawed rabbit traps were widely used in urban and rural Australia from 1880 to 1980. This trap is symbolic of the battle that Australians have waged against burgeoning rabbit populations for over a century. Despite the fact that most children first learn about rabbits as cute and cuddly animals, rabbits cause enormous damage to Australian soils and biodiversity. The introduction of rabbits to this country was an environmental disaster.

Lane's Ace rabbit trap was the most commonly used …


Object No.


Object Statement

Rabbit trap, 'Ace', metal, made by Henry Lane (Australia) Ltd, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, 1935-1960

Physical Description

Rabbit trap, 'Ace', metal, made by Henry Lane (Australia) Ltd, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, 1935-1960

A classic steel-jawed, or gin, trap consisting of a pair of jaws held closed by spring tension and a triggering mechanism. The trap is constructed on a base consisting of a bar of steel, the stock bar, which is bent over to form a powerful bow spring. At the end of the spring is a hole, the spring eye, which encircles and closes the jaws when the trap is triggered. The jaws are 92mm in width. They close over the top of the bridge, plate and tongue mechanism that is designed to trigger the trap. An 8-link chain is attached by a hook on the bent end of the trap's spring. A long steel spike is looped over the last link of the other end of the chain. The jaws of the trap are flat, without ridges.


There are three deep score marks on the underside of the stock bar. They were probably put there by the rabbit trapper in order to identify his traps.



75 mm


140 mm



The trap was made by Henry Lane (Australia) Ltd in Newcastle, New South Wales, some time between 1935 and 1960. Henry Lane (Australia) Ltd was established in Newcastle in 1919 to make rabbit traps which had previously been imported from Henry Lane Ltd in England. At the end of World War I, the demand for traps in Australia was so great that Henry Lane moved his wire spring trap production to Australia. Once Henry had established the factory, he returned to England and sent his son out to oversee the operation. Unfortunately his son was taken by a shark whilst swimming at Nobby's Beach near Newcastle six weeks after his arrival. There is a plaque at Nobby's Beach commemorating the tragedy.

The trap is designed so that the metal jaws snap shut against each other when the trap is activated by the application of weight to the pressure plate. In use, traps are set with open jaws, buried lightly just below the surface of the earth. When an animal steps on the pressure plate, the jagged teeth of the jaws snap around the animal's leg, usually breaking bone and sinew. Thus the animal is immobilised.



Steel-jawed traps have been used since the 16th century to catch birds, mammals and humans. In 1827 a bill was passed in England banning the use of man traps but the manufacture and use of rabbit traps remained legal until 1958. Henry Lane Ltd was established in England in the 1840s to manufacture a wide range of steel-jawed traps.

After rabbits were released in Australia they multiplied to plague proportions and the demand for traps was enormous. Henry Lane Ltd established a trap-making factory at Newcastle, New South Wales, and became the largest producer of traps in Australia. Lane's Ace trap was first made in 1935 and was the most commonly-used rabbit trap in Australia until about 1970. This particular trap was used at Thirlmere in New South Wales.

Today, rabbit trapping is considered labour intensive, inefficient and ineffective for large-scale rabbit control in Australia. It is also considered cruel. Even in States where trapping is still legal, the use of steel-jawed traps is discouraged because of their potential to cause injury, distress and suffering. Often animals die of exposure, or predation by foxes or eagles, before being found and killed by trap owners.

Rabbit populations are controlled in the 21st century by poisoning, destroying or 'ripping' burrows (warrens), biological control with rabbit haemorrhagic disease and myxomatosis, and by shooting. Rabbit-proof fences also prevent the spread of rabbits into some areas of the country.

Steel-jawed rabbit traps were banned in Australian states following the passing of the following acts:
National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia)
Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act, 1979 (New South Wales)
Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act, 1985 (South Australia)
Animal Welfare Act 1992 (Australian Capital Territory)
Animal Welfare Act 1993 (Tasmania)


Credit Line

Gift of Ted Maidla, 2006

Acquisition Date

25 September 2006

Cite this Object


'Ace' rabbit trap made by Henry Lane (Australia) Ltd 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 6 May 2021, <https://ma.as/362289>


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