Camera traps can be heard and seen by animals

Paul D. Meek, Guy Anthony Ballard, Peter J.S. Fleming, Michael Schaefer, Warwick Williams, Greg Falzon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Camera traps are electrical instruments that emit sounds and light. In recent decades they have become a tool of choice in wildlife research and monitoring. The variability between camera trap models and the methods used are considerable, and little is known about how animals respond to camera trap emissions. It has been reported that some animals show a response to camera traps, and in research this is often undesirable so it is important to understand why the animals are disturbed. We conducted laboratory based investigations to test the audio and infrared optical outputs of 12 camera trap models. Camera traps were measured for audio outputs in an anechoic chamber; we also measured ultrasonic (n = 5) and infrared illumination outputs (n = 7) of a subset of the camera trap models. We then compared the perceptive hearing range (n = 21) and assessed the vision ranges (n = 3) of mammals species (where data existed) to determine if animals can see and hear camera traps. We report that camera traps produce sounds that are well within the perceptive range of most mammals' hearing and produce illumination that can be seen by many species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere110832
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • Camera traps
  • wildlife researc
  • mammals species
  • anechoic chamber
  • ultrasonic
  • infrared illumination
  • hearing range


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