How to Make the Perfect Leprechaun Trap

leprechaun trapYou can try to trap those pesky little mischief makers, but they always seem to get away.

Jack, my son and leprechaun hunter, came home from school several weeks ago with a mission: create a leprechaun trap.

From the very start, he wanted something that smushed the leprechaun… a kind of mouse trap for little green people without tails. I explained the smashing of leprechauns is a tad violent, maybe a little excessive, and a big mess in the morning. I suggested he capture the leprechaun instead.

A Trip to Home Depot

We began at my favorite place – the Home Depot. When in doubt, I head to the plumbing aisle.

Jack and I found a 10 foot long piece of 1/2″ PVC and a saw (we just borrowed it). The creative juices were flowing! I cut the pipe while he ran over to the connector bins.

An elbow piece here…T-fitting there… a few eye hooks and we had the basic structure.

Honestly, it’s a memory that I’ll always treasure. Father and son sitting in the plumbing aisle at Home Depot building a leprechaun trap.


  • PVC pipe
  • 6 elbow fittings
  • 2 T-fittings
  • Green paint
  • Large plastic cup
  • Small plastic cup
  • Glitter
  • String
  • Washer
  • At least 3 eye-hooks
  • Yellow food coloring
  • Green food coloring
  • Glue
  • Awl or something sharp to cut holes for eye-hooks in PVC pipe (with adult help)

How to Build the Trap

  • Use PVC piping to build a rectangle frame. Place two T-fittings in the middle of the two longest sides and attach a three-sided rectangle above. (see photo)
  • Paint the frame green.
  • Decorate a large plastic cup.
  • Attach a big cup to a piece of string.
  • Drill holes along one arm of the PVC pipe frame from the bottom to the top center.
  • Attach eye-hooks in holes.
  • Feed the string through the eye-hooks and tie the other end to a large washer.
    (Pulling the washer raises and lowers the cup.)
  • Place the washer under a plastic cup filled with liquid gold.
  • Make the liquid gold with glitter and yellow food coloring.
    The leprechaun will be lured by the liquid gold trap. (A child’s imagination – I can’t come up with this.)
  • When the leprechaun lifts the cup to take the gold, the washer is released, dropping the big cup on the leprechaun.

BAM! One leprechaun in said trap. Life is good.

One Final Touch (for Adult Eyes Only)

Secretly add one drop of blue food coloring to the water after the kids are asleep. The water will turn green.

Jack set the trap before going to bed in hopes of catching a little mischief maker overnight. The next morning, he came bolting out to the kitchen to find the trap sprung and the liquid gold turned to green.

“Mom… Dad… It worked! The Leprechaun fell in the water and turned it green!”

I hope he will remember this St. Patrick’s Day for years to come. The year we almost caught a leprechaun.

For more ideas to surprise children at home and in the classroom, read our post on how to turn the water in your faucets green.

We want to see what types of leprechaun traps you’ve engineered. Share a picture and description in the comments below.

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Comments (33)

  • shauna schlabach Reply

    i would like to thank u 4 helping me think of away to build a leprechuan trap like yours but diffrent

    March 1, 2006 at 4:16 pm
  • james edmondson Reply

    this an awesome idea cool!!!! thanks 4 the help with my project

    March 2, 2006 at 7:04 pm
  • Sophie Reply

    This is an awesome Idea! my little sister will love it!

    March 4, 2006 at 1:31 pm
  • Angie & Hunter Reply

    My son, Hunter, and I just found this and think it is AWESOME! I have been on line for several hours and have seen all kinds of traps but this one is best by far. I love the idea of the water turning colors. I can’t wait to tell his teachers about this one. When there is no father here to help Hunter build things I depend on wonderful people like you to give me Instructions. I can do a lot with the right info. Thanks. Oh, he wants to build it NOW! He is 5 and I cannot get through to him I don’t have the stuff here!

    March 10, 2006 at 6:28 pm
  • KhaNaja Reply

    I’m in second grade.Thanks for the help.From Charleston SC

    March 11, 2006 at 4:01 pm
  • Daniel Vieira Reply

    Thank you so very much…. I hope that we catch the leprechaun….If we do we’ll split the gold.

    March 13, 2006 at 10:52 am
  • Nan Reply

    Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one whose son wanted to SMASH the leprechaun! :oS Thanks for the encouragement!

    March 16, 2006 at 9:44 am
  • Cindy Sause Reply

    My sons, Sean and Niall, have both constructed Leprechaun traps as a school family project in first grade. As bait, Sean made a pot ‘o gold using candle votive filled with gold spray-painted coins…

    As a secondary special education teacher, I have used many of your experiments in my independent science class. Thanks for the great ideas for cool science on a shoestring!

    May 25, 2006 at 8:02 pm
  • Karla Ross Reply

    Every year those mischevious leprechauns visit our home. We’ve had a great time building the traps. Not only do the lil guys seem to escape, but the turn our milk and toilet water GREEN, put furniture and other items UPSIDE down and even smudged some green glitter on our cat’s head and ears! What a great family memory and opportunity for sharing/discussion/joint project!

    March 12, 2007 at 10:42 pm
  • Vicki Reply

    how did u get the cup thing to fall??? please help my trap is due thursday!! thx

    March 13, 2007 at 7:04 pm
  • Steve Reply

    Hi – you put the string under the little cup of gold, so when the leprechaun lifts the cup, the bigger cup above falls down. Good luck!

    March 15, 2007 at 8:38 am
  • Carol Reply

    I am confused. If the washer is released then the cup goes up not down. What I am picturing is the big cup is turned upside down and attached to a string with the other end tied to the washer, keeping the cup in the air. So if the other end of the string is under the smaller cup filled with liquid gold when the cup is lifted the washer goes down pulling the big cup up. What am I missing?

    March 2, 2008 at 10:19 pm
  • Steve Spangler Reply

    Hi Carol – we are working on a diagram to better describe the trap. We’ll post it soon. The washer should be on the table under the cup, the washers around the top of the trap, and the big cup in the air. When the washer is released, the string will loosen and the cup will fall. I hope that helps.

    March 5, 2008 at 10:33 am
  • Connie W. Reply

    Ha Ha! This is so cute and clever! My kids are teens now, so they would roll their eyes at the idea of trapping
    little leprechauns, but I will definitely show this trap to my friends who have young children– great memory-making!

    March 13, 2008 at 7:39 am
  • jack parler Reply

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    March 11, 2009 at 2:02 am
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    March 16, 2009 at 5:21 pm
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    […] think this one is my favorite from Steve Spangler – he went all out with  green pvc […]

    March 4, 2010 at 7:04 am
  • shelby valadez Reply

    How did you make such a good leprechaun trap?

    March 8, 2010 at 7:04 am
  • Julie Gintzler Reply

    I think the greatness of your trap is completely dependent upon how badly you wish to catch the little guy! 🙂

    March 8, 2010 at 8:19 am
  • Nathaniel Reply

    How do we can catch little guy

    little like this. at school we did a trap

    a nd didnt work what i do?

    March 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm
  • Eryn Reply

    Great trap. I’m glad to know my son isn’t the only one intending harm to leprechauns, as his idea originally involved chain saws. We ended up with something similar. The greedy leprechaun pulls on a gold coin that trips a wire pulley thingamajig and a dome falls over him. I always find it amazing what you can do with a few bucks and a trip to the hardware store.

    March 11, 2010 at 1:42 pm
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  • Lynn cahill Reply

    Very nice i like the yellow to green move very good

    February 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm
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    March 16, 2011 at 10:06 pm
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    […] Spangler has a great science blog, making him a true GeekDad, and talks about his PVC-based trap there. Also don’t miss a great green-water trick where he made all the water faucets in the […]

    March 16, 2011 at 10:36 pm
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    March 7, 2012 at 11:14 am
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