Squirrels may seem harmless. However, they can cause severe damage to your home and property. They can destroy your bird seeds, messing up your attic and even infesting the yard. Therefore, you would like to know how to trap a squirrel.
You can trap a squirrel using live squirrel traps like cage traps or death traps. Squirrel traps work well with baits. Baits like whole peanuts or a combination of whole peanuts and peanut butter are great options.
Trapping a squirrel requires technique. More than the choice of bait, other considerations like the positioning of the trap, the habitat of the squirrels matter. Are the squirrels living in your yard, or are they are in your attic?
How to Trap a Squirrel in Your Attic
Having squirrels in your attic can be very disturbing. The resulting damages will cost you high expenses in repairs. One clear way to tell if you have squirrels in your attic is when you perpetually hear scratching sounds coming from your attic. You can also determine the presence of squirrels in your attic from trampled attic insulation or chewed wood.
You have to be careful in your choice of the squirrel disposal means. Using chemical pesticides can pose further health risks to your family, especially kids. This is why trapping the squirrels in the attic is your best choice.
To begin, you will have to identify the points through which these squirrels are entering your home and your attic. After picking out such entry points, seal them off. It is typical of squirrels to squeeze through just any hole they can find in your home. This could be slack edges in your windows and doors as well. So endeavor that your doors and windows are tightly fitted. You can further fortify them with fitted screens.
It would be helpful to place wire meshes over chimney tops if you don’t want to procure a chimney cap. These wire meshes can also be installed over open vents. You can use steel wood and caulk to fill up openings. There are other options like using brick to fix your walls or making do with dirt to fill up holes in your home.
Ensure to leave one entry hole so that these squirrels can get out themselves. Preferably, this last hole should be the most conspicuous of all the holes and should be easily accessible by the squirrels. Don’t immediately cover this hole with permanent materials like brick or caulk.
It is advisable to first use some removable materials like newspapers to block this hole. You can now go on to set your traps in the attic and catch the squirrels. Thus, should this temporary coverage remain intact days after you notice a stop in the attic noises, you can then take the newspapers off and permanently seal it.
Now let us talk about the trapping of the squirrels after blocking the entry points. As said, the type of trap you choose depends on if you want to capture the squirrel alive or dead. Should you decide to keep them alive, you will have to use live-capture squirrel traps. You can choose to dispose of the squirrels far from your home or euthanize them. Kill-traps just as they sound kill the squirrel upon capturing it.
If you are using live traps in your attic, make sure to frequently check the trap if it had captured a squirrel. Allowing a captured squirrel to die from starvation is inhuman and discouraged. You can position such live traps in your attic runaways. You can also place these traps near walls. One great way to locate the trap is finding where you see urine and feces of the squirrel.
You can choose peanut butter for the baiting of your trap for the attic squirrels. Bait the trap so that the squirrel must enter the trap to get the bait – thereby triggering the shutting of the door. The squirrel shouldn’t be able to pull out the bait from the sides of the trap. If you are using deathtraps, it will humanely kill the squirrel.
How to Trap a Squirrel in Your Yard
Aside from your attic, squirrels can also invade your yard. They can mess up your garden and even destroy your crops. Once again, when trapping squirrels in your yard, it is left to you to decide if you want to cure them of their bad habits of you want to permanently get rid of them by killing them.
Most death traps are designed using the box-like contraption feature. This works such that once the bait pulls the squirrel into the trap, the trigger is activated, killing the squirrel. If you adopt these death traps to get rid of the squirrels in your yard, ensure to kit your hands with disposable latex gloves. This will protect you from direct contact with bodily fluids and blood of the trapped squirrel. This is important considering the possibility of the squirrels carrying ticks and fleas.
The other option we will be dwelling on is the live capture traps. These traps are designed as wire cages which are fitted with a hanging trapdoor. You will have to provide alluring bait that makes the squirrel enter the trap. Then the trigger releases the door, thereby capturing the squirrel inside.
Take note that a live trap for the squirrel must be sufficiently big to accommodate the squirrel. This way, the squirrel would have entered inside the trap reasonably before the trigger is activated shutting the door. Therefore you have to consider the species of squirrels in your yard.
Ideally, you can go for traps with a length range of 15-25 inches. You will commonly find live squirrel traps with one or two doors. Now you have to properly position the trap in your yard choosing locations with higher chances of catching the squirrels.
Such locations should be along the travel path of the squirrel. You can place the trap close to the base of trees in your yard, in front of an entryway, or even along the fence line which is close to a bird feeder regularly visited. Great, it is now time to bait your trap.
Here again, the emphasis on is picking a bait that the squirrel can’t steal without getting into the trap. The commonest baits used for squirrel traps is peanut butter. You can spread your peanut butter right on the trigger plate. Should you choose solid bait, it must be bigger than your trap’s mesh opening. A perfect choice is unshelled peanuts. You also have the option of baiting the trap with sunflower seeds carefully placed at the back of the trigger plate.
What is the Best Bait for Squirrels?
It is essential to avoid using poisonous baits when you want to get rid of squirrels. Do not forget that aside from the squirrel, your household pets and even little ones can take the bait. Worse still, there is the possibility of the squirrel possibly taking the poisoned bait but escaping the trap.
In such a situation, the squirrel is most likely to die in its hiding place. The smell of the dead squirrel can be horrible upon the labor of trying to locate the dead squirrel. Therefore, your best option would be using live traps with non-poisonous baits.
The easiest non-lethal bait you can use with your traps is peanut butter. It is super effective. Squirrels love peanut butter just like grapes, strawberries, and pecans. You don’t have to labor through sourcing peanut butter from specialized stores. Peanut butter is even common sight in your home.
Make sure to properly bait your trap with peanut butter – preferably the trigger plate – and keep in the squirrel’s travel path or where you had previously caught a squirrel before. This should be done such that the squirrel must have to place its weight on the trap’s metal plate before reaching the bait.
In the case where the squirrels appear disinterested in peanut butter, you can try a combination of sunflowers and peanuts. Don’t bother about taking the shells off. It is essential to keep them unsalted. Cereal grains, apples, and popcorn are great baits as well. You can also use bread spiced with anise oil or almond extract.
It would be beneficial to kit yourself with hand gloves when baiting your traps. This is to avoid transferring your human scent to it. Squirrels have a unique ability to discern smell, and your scent can turn them off from the bait.
Do Squirrels Bite Humans?
It is common to mistake squirrels as vicious animals that are aggressive to human contact. This is not correct. Squirrels don’t have a habit of biting or attacking humans. Possibly, when you are feeding a squirrel from your hand, it can bite you. However, this is not intentional, neither an act of aggression. It is because squirrels are naturally short-sighted. We will be touching on this subsequently.
If you are feeding them and you get your fingers too close to their eyes, they may fail to see what you are offering them clearly. Thus they could inadvertently bite you while eating the food from your hands. Best practice when hand-feeding squirrels is to provide them with the food from stretched-out palms. Nonetheless, if a squirrel bites your fingers, it is usually not severe.
Also, squirrels may resort to biting you if they perceive you as an acute threat. Such biting forms a crucial part of a squirrel’s defense mechanism against predators. So if a squirrel is not familiar with you and you try to catch them, they could bite. If you move too quickly when trying to hold them – especially when they are not accustomed to you – they may also bite or scratch you. Squirrels may also bite or scratch you if they interpreted that you are trying to take off something they are guarding.
If a squirrel bites you whether in self-defense or accidentally, it is vital to wash the wound immediately and thoroughly. Protect the wound from getting infected by keeping it clean. Should you notice later some symptoms of infection like pus, redness, itching or acute pain, go at once and see a medical doctor for evaluation.
Cases of transmission of rabies virus by squirrels are rare. There are other infections like typhus, ringworm, and plague that you can contract from squirrel bites. Nonetheless, you are not obliged to take rabies shots if a squirrel bites you.
Are Squirrels Friendly?
While squirrels generally fall under the rodent family, squirrels are some of the sweetest and friendliest animals to have around humans. For one thing, squirrels are brilliant and learn quickly. They have a friendly disposition towards humans and can soon trust you if they maintain regular contact with you. This is typical when you frequently feed them.
It is common to see squirrels eating out of people’s palms. This tells you they are not aggressive and can form an emotional connection easily with humans. Squirrels become much friendlier and bolder to interact with humans when you feed them. To do this, you must remain calm enough for the squirrel to classify you as a non-threat. Then they can confidently come close to eat the food from your palms.
Now, while eating from your hand, they could accidentally bite you. This is not a sign of hostility. Squirrels naturally have 180° vision. With this, a squirrel doesn’t need to turn its heads to see what is behind it. The disadvantage of such 180° vision is that a squirrel may not correctly see what is in front of its nose.
So when they attempt to eat from your hand, and you move your hand approximately a quarter-inch closer, they may lose accurate vision of the position of the food and accidentally bite your hands. This can be avoided by offering the food on your open palms.
Does Chocolate Kill Squirrels?
Contrary to popular opinion, chocolate doesn’t kill squirrels if moderately consumed. So long the squirrel doesn’t eat chocolate exorbitantly, it is safe. This is because theobromine (which is toxic) is found in chocolate. This is what hurts squirrels if they excessively feed on chocolate.
Squirrels inherently have a survivalist culture. Therefore, it is rare for them to eat poisonous foods like chocolate in large quantities. Of course, this depends on the type of chocolate – whether dark chocolate or white chocolate.
For dark chocolate, the constituency of theobromine is higher compared to that you will find in milk chocolate candy. If you are feeding squirrels with dark chocolate, ensure it is in minimal quantities. White chocolate doesn’t contain as much theobromine as dark chocolate. This is because white chocolate doesn’t have a significant amount of non-fat cocoa solids.
However, moderate consumption is yet advised for squirrels as white chocolate still contains an estimated 35% cocoa solids. The sugar and fat levels of white chocolate are higher. This doesn’t necessarily make it very nutritious for squirrels.
How Smart are Squirrels?
Squirrels are very smart animals despite how little they look. One effective way of calculating animal intelligence is the level of adaptability they have to any environment they find themselves. In this regards, squirrels are very adaptable, being quick learners. While they are seen as pests, squirrels survive even in the deadliest conditions.
In North America and other cold European regions, squirrels have exhibited impressive intelligence in planning ahead of the winter by strategically locating stores where they amassed large quantities of seeds and nuts!
Also, squirrels are known to run in erratic paths to confuse predators and escape capture. One other way to tell animal intelligence is memory and abstract thoughts. Squirrels are awesome in these areas.
First, squirrels are rapid learners. A University of Exeter research revealed that Squirrels are gifted with intelligent observation. The study saw that squirrels could pay attention to other squirrels as they move nuts from one pot to another. The watching squirrel could determine that if a pot was empty, the likeliest pot to find the nuts was the opposite pot. This attests to the capacity for abstract thoughts in squirrels.
Squirrels have also proven to have acute memory. This is manifested in locating nuts buried before. It is typical of squirrels to hide nuts by burying them. They, therefore, need such memory skills in identifying the locations where they buried the nuts before.
A Princeton University research showed that grey squirrels could deploy spatial memory in recovering nuts they previously buried. This can be done from year to year. Squirrels can also decipher and memorize the most accessible (and quickest) paths from their nests to the trees they climb.
Lastly, squirrels have a skill for deception. This shows you how smart they are. Culturally, squirrels tend to steal nuts among themselves. To protect its nuts from another invading squirrel, a squirrel will pretend as if they are burying their nuts if it is aware that another squirrel is watching it.
Now, upon discovering that its audience (or watcher) has left and it is alone, the squirrel will immediately rebury the nuts in another location. Such a technique will deceive the squirrel that was previously watching it if it possibly comes back later to steal the nuts. This is a unique skill common to more intelligent primates.
Do Squirrels Remember Humans?
Squirrels are intelligent enough to remember humans. Just like your pets, squirrels can get used to you and identify you as an acquaintance. If you raise an orphaned squirrel, the possibility is high that one day it will come back visiting you. Squirrels can recognize people they have trusted – especially people who have fed them.
It is such a strong memory capacity that aids squirrels in performing challenging tasks like working a collection of levers or even finding their way through mazes. So long a squirrel doesn’t identify you as a predator, it may get acquainted with you from regular contacts and remember you consequently.
Squirrel Trapping Tips and Techniques
They are various trapping techniques to catch squirrels. Let us look at the prevalent types of squirrel traps and the procedures involved.
Single Animal Live Cage
The majority of wildlife control agencies use the single animal live cage trap. There is a variety of models for this trap. They, however, work on the universal principle of luring the squirrel in with food and triggering the closure of the cage with a trip pan.
The trip pan is commonly situated in the rear of the cage. Therefore, once the weight of the squirrel is impressed on the trip pan (which happens when it fully steps on the pan), the trigger shuts the door capturing the squirrel within. This trap doesn’t kill the squirrel.
Several materials can be used in the design of the single animal live cage traps. However, the most common type is steel bars and other plastic materials. The cage trap needs to be sturdy so that the captured squirrel doesn’t break out. The size is a critical feature too since we want the squirrel to be neatly fit inside.
Ideal dimensions are a length of 16 inches and a breadth of 5 inches. This will allow the captured squirrel sufficient space to fit in without have too much expanse to run around and hurt itself from collisions with the cage walls.
Body Grip Traps
These are more of death traps. The prevalent type is the double spring-loaded conibear trap. When triggered, it clamps down on the squirrel, killing it via crushing it or choking it. They are stationed in the squirrel’s preferred route which can be an entry hole into your attic. These traps are difficult to use nonetheless and are dangerous. You should be wary of wildlife trappers who deploy this type of squirrel traps as a first resort.
The Repeating Live Cage Trap
This is the preferred option for professionals. These traps are positioned in the most frequented exit and entry point of your home. Repeating live cage traps are built with a one-way door so that the squirrel can get in but can’t leave.
In the case where you have shut off all the other points, the squirrel would be mandated to follow this hole and get entrapped. From the design of this trap, it can accommodate as many as six average squirrels all at once.
Note that late spring is the best type to trap a squirrel. If you can’t do it by then, you can try catching the squirrel by early winter. This will significantly reduce the chances of the squirrel breeding all over your home while cutting down the possibility of separating dependent young squirrels from their mother.
After using your trap, make sure to disinfect it with beach solution. This can be achieved by mixing nine parts of water with one part of water. It would be ideal to wait another 18 minutes after the mixture before you apply the solution to the trap by brushing.
Sometimes, traps may not do it alone. At such scenarios, take a combined approach of integrating repellants, electronics, and traps. Electronics here means using electrically generated conditions to make the place uncomfortable for the squirrel. This can be via music or very bright lights. This works particularly well in your attic.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare