Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pet Caches

Blending caches in with the environment can be tricky and there are a lot of ways to do so.  While camouflage can be very basic, to truly get it just right takes practice.  But there is another fun way to do camouflage that we will look at today, along with several examples of this method.  Because of the various methods used, it will be hard to provide a materials list that covers every possible method.  So we will try to highlight what will be needed for each of the provided examples so you can get an idea about how to approach the method.  And what is the method...


Yep, I said animals.  So what exactly does that mean?  Those of you who have found a lot of caches may have seen a cache built like this before.  It a geocache built to look like an animal.  In some cases, the animal part is a prop that has been turned into a geocache.  Other times, it is a geocache that is attached to some kind of animal prop.  And in some cases, the animal actually hides the container.  We will look at one of each of these methods.

One hard part about the methods we will be looking at is finding the right prop for the design.  There are two easy places to find these items, though they aren't the only locations.  One is a Garden Center.  Many stores that cater to landscaping and gardening will often have some animal related props.  Another location would be Halloween stores.  While these are usually only found in early Fall, with a little bit of looking you can sometimes find stores that sell Halloween related goods year-round. 


Our first example is an animal that has been turned into a geocache.  In this example, the animal is typically a larger prop that is hollow in some form.  Is this always the case...definitely not.  I've seen examples of bison tubes made to look like insects.  But for this post, we will focus on a larger version.  For this example, you will need a few items:
  • A fake cat
  • Logsheet
  • Weather resistant glue
  • PVC Plug and respectively sized threaded PVC adaptor
For the PVC Plug and adaptor, you can commonly find something called a PVC Cleanout W/Plug.  This would fit perfectly.  You just need to find a size appropriate for your design.  First, we see the cache itself, held by one of my caching friends:

You can see the cat, along with the black PVC fitting attached to it's belly.  A hole was cut into the belly, cut to the diameter of the bottom of the PVC Cleanout. The cleanout is then glued to the cat.  The PVC Plug then can screw into the cleanout to create a water-tight seal (provided you've properly glued the cat to the PVC).  In this photo, you might also notice a small metal loop in front of the PVC plug.  This loop was used to attach the cat to a tree, as seen here:

To attach this the way it is shown, the person who hid this would have had to drill a small hole into the tree, then take a hook screw a bit larger than the hole and screw that into the tree as well.  This would then provide the hook for the loop you see in the above photo, thereby attaching the cat to the tree as shown.

While this design is pretty cool when you see it in person, this did require putting a screw into a tree, which could cause damage to the tree.  If you like how this is setup (and it was pretty cool when I saw it), I would encourage you to find a location that doesn't require drilling into a tree.  I have seen reviewers archive caches that do this and they are right to do so.  It may not seem like much, but this can cause damage.

As you can see in this image, the design does create an interesting atmosphere for a cache, especially on Halloween. I know I laughed pretty hard upon finding this because my first thought was that we had actually found a cat.  Imagine the logs you would receive with a cache like this.


The next type of animal cache involves attaching animals to a geocache.  One of the first examples of this that I ran into involved a fake rat attached to a 35mm film canister, hidden under a log.  I happened to go after it at night, which made the cache even more fun to find.  These types of hides are rather simple and require nothing more than a geocache and some kind of fake animal to attach to the outside.  Spiders, snakes, and rats are the most common fake animals you'll see used, but insects often work wonderfully as well.

When building a cache like this using a smaller cache size, you typically need nothing more than the geocache itself, the animal to attach, and a method for attaching it.  Weather resistant glue is the most commonly used method.  For larger caches, like ammo cans, some geocachers will use items like snakes and large spiders and just rest them on top of the cache.

Here is an example of a micro attached to an insect.  The photo was taken by rhondapalooza.


The last example involves using an animal to hide the geocache.  Now the above example of the cat might seem like it fits here to but there is a difference.  With the cat, the cat was turned into the geocache.  The PVC parts merely provided an easy method to open and close the container, but the cat's body was the geocache itself.  For this last method, the fake animal isn't the geocache itself, it's merely the camouflage designed to hide the geocache.  Here, let's see an example of this:
In this example, the bird is the camo.  If you look closely, you can see the red, rounded edge of the geocache sticking out the back end of the bird.  It is hard to tell from this view, but the bird is actually carved from a lightweight wood, carefully painted to look like a real bird.  Using a drill, a hole was created for the bison tube.  A perch was created and tied to the tree on which the bird is attached.  Look carefully and you can see a triangular piece on the back end of the perch which helps prevent the bison tube from falling out accidentally.  To retrieve this cache, the bird rotated forward just a bit.  This was achieved by making the feet loop around the perch, but with a little bit of looseness to allow the rotation.  Rotate the bird forward, pull out the bison tube, and sign the logsheet.

Birds are definitely the most commonly used animal for this method, at least from what I've experienced.  Here is another example of a bird geocache (which happens to be an exact replica to two bird caches I have seen) as taken by Wrapped In Piano Strings, who we should welcome to the geocaching world as this is a picture of their very first find:

Once, I saw a large GINORMOUS Bison using this method up in St. Joseph, MO.  Always good for a laugh when taking someone to find it.

So there you have it.  Three ways to turn a simple geocache into a creative geocache using animals.  Have you seen an example of this before?  Post a GC code in the comments.


P.S. I am waiting for permission from a few people to display their photos on the site.  I will update the post with photos as permissions arrive.  For now, I've merely linked to the photos I am awaiting permission from.


Erika Jean said...

I love the idea. We've come across a few. Here in Tucson, there was a whole series called "critters"... they weren't in sturdy enough critters though, so they didn't last log. Here is one of the more study ones.

The first critter I ever came across was a fake rat under a light post skirt.

The best executed one I found was a bird one though! I just wasn't expecting it!

There is also a big turtle up in phoenix, I'm kickin' myself for not geting it last time I was there!

sorry for all the links, I get carried away sometimes ;-)

Love the climbing cat though! Such a great idea!

kjw said...

Anybody know where you can buy the 2nd bird cache shown here?

TripCyclone said...


Let me as my buddy. He has placed one of these before and I recall he has some spares.