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.
Select a small 1-door or 2-door live cage. Place the trap along the squirrel’s travel path or near its favorite tree. Bait the trap with a stick, sweet substance, like peanut butter, to attract the squirre. Leave the trap door(s) open and check on it periodically for your catch.
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 (Step-by-Step Guide)
- Best Bait for Trapping Squirrels
- Squirrel Trapping Tips
- Signs of a Squirrel Problem
- Do Squirrels Bite Humans?
How to Trap a Squirrel (Step-by-Step Guide)
Choose the Right Type of Squirrel Trap
The first step is selecting the right trap for the job. There are three main types of squirrel traps:
Live Cage Trap
The live cage trap is designed to catch squirrels without harming them, making it possible to safely relocate them later.
Pros: Very humane, allows relocation of squirrels without killing them. Easy to use and safe for family and pets.
Cons: Can be expensive, and not as effective for large infestations. Requires releasing squirrels safely.
Choose a live cage trap with dimensions of at least 12 x 12 x 32 inches to ensure enough space for the squirrels. This is the most humane and highly recommended option for trapping squirrels. Brands like Havahart and Tomahawk make quality live traps.
Body Grip Trap
Body grip traps quickly kill squirrels by constricting their bodies. While they are affordable, they are considered less humane.
Pros: Very effective, inexpensive, no need to relocate squirrels.
Cons: Kills instead of relocating squirrels. Risk of catching unintended animals.
It is recommended to use body grip traps only as a last resort, when live trapping methods have failed.
Pick a Strategic Location to Place the Trap
Choosing the right location for the trap is crucial. Watch the areas where squirrels are frequently active and set the traps along these routes. Good locations include:
- Near trees and utility poles they are seen climbing
- Near bird feeders or gardens they steal food from
- Along the sides of homes and garages
Be sure to place traps away from areas with high human or pet activity to prevent accidental triggering. Select locations that are commonly used by squirrels but are also safe and away from frequent human or pet activity.
Bait the Trap Appropriately
You need alluring bait to draw those bushy tails into your trap. Try these tasty options squirrels love:
- Peanut butter – A classic choice, smear it on the trap trigger and in the back of the cage.
- Walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts – Whole nuts still in the shell work best.
- Seeds like sunflower, dried corn, and oats – Sprinkle seeds on and around the trap plate.
- Nutella, chocolate – Squirrels adore sweets, but use them sparingly.
- Fruit such as apple slices, berries, and melon – Skewer or tie fruit securely in the trap so it doesn’t fall off.
- Bacon, meat pieces – The smell attracts squirrels though it won’t last as long.
For best results, cover the trap plate completely or fill the cage floor with bait to make it more tempting.
Set the Trap Properly
Set the trap on a stable and flat surface to ensure the door closes correctly when triggered.
Prop the trap door open with a stick, zip tie, or latch until you are ready to activate it.
Ensure no other objects are obstructing the door that could prevent it from closing completely.
Set the trap after placing the bait, as squirrels can quickly steal bait from unset traps.
Before setting the trap, ensure that your hands and other body parts are clear of the mechanism.
Careful and precise setting of traps increases the chances of successful trapping.
Check and Remove Trapped Squirrels Quickly
Check traps frequently, at least every 12 hours. You don’t want to leave a live squirrel trapped for too long.
When you catch a squirrel, quickly and gently approach the trap. Covering it with a towel helps calm the animal while you move the trap. Wear thick gloves if needing to handle the trap – an agitated squirrel may bite!
Reset the trap to catch more squirrels. When removing carcasses from lethal traps, always wear gloves and a mask for safety.
Release Squirrels 5-10 Miles Away
When using live cage traps, transport the captured squirrels at least 5 to 10 miles away from your property to release them. This distance helps prevent them from returning. Choose a rural, forested area for release, ensuring it’s not adjacent to residential properties.
Carefully open the trap door facing bushes or woods, allowing the squirrel to quickly find cover and feel secure. Never relocate squirrels illegally to a state park or other recreational area.
Best Bait for Trapping Squirrels
Whole nuts and nut butter are classic squirrel favorites. Try these nut varieties:
- Peanuts – Roasted or raw peanuts work. Peanut butter is one of the best options for sticking to traps.
- Walnuts – Their rich oiliness makes walnuts highly enticing.
- Almonds – Whole almonds still in the shell are long-lasting.
- Pecans – Pecans provide a tasty, energy-dense treat.
- Hazelnuts – These are some of the most peanut-buttery-tasting nuts.
Squirrels love carbo-loading on seeds! Good seed options include:
- Sunflower seeds – Their small size lets you use lots of seeds as bait.
- Dried corn – Scatter corn kernels around and on the trap plate.
- Oats – Quick cooking oats are inexpensive and tempting.
- Millet – This tiny yellow seed is appetizing and nutritious.
Fruit offers some natural sweetness to attract squirrels:
- Grapes – Skewer grapes as bait since loose ones may fall off traps.
- Apples – Diced apples stay put in traps longer.
- Berries – Whole strawberries, blueberries, etc work well.
- Melon – Watermelon and cantaloupe cubes are hydrating and sweet.
Warning: only use small amounts of fruit as it ferments quickly. Rotate out old fruit daily.
For a little something special, try these sweet human foods:
- Chocolate – Small dark chocolate pieces or chips work best.
- Nutella – This chocolate-hazelnut spread sticks perfectly to trap plates.
- Marshmallows – The soft texture and sugar are enticing.
- Cookie pieces – Go for peanut butter or chocolate chip cookie bits.
Though not their typical diet, some meaty items grab attention:
- Bacon – The smoky, fatty aroma attracts squirrels’ notice.
- Deli meats – Try rolled up pieces of ham, salami, etc.
- Pet food – Squirrels may eat small amounts of dry dog or cat food.
Squirrel Trapping Tips
Disguise the trap by lightly covering it with grass clippings, twigs, dirt, or leaves.
To make the trap less noticeable, spray paint the bars and wires in earthy green or brown tones.
It may take 5-7 days to catch the first one or two squirrels, as they become cautious around new objects.
Expect to spend 2-3 weeks to significantly reduce the numbers in a large squirrel colony.
Be persistent and regularly rebait the traps for success. It’s important not to give up too soon!
Release during the daytime so squirrels can immediately find food and shelter.
When releasing squirrels, open the trap door facing towards bushes or woods to provide immediate cover for them.
Signs of a Squirrel Problem
Damage to Structures
Squirrels can create various structural problems in your home when they inhabit it:
- Chewed holes in eaves, soffits, fascia, and roof trim
- Stripped insulation and nesting materials from attics/walls
- Roof/ceiling leaks from gnawed holes
- Loose or damaged vent covers
- Trees stripped of bark
Regularly check for damage or openings, as squirrels can stealthily create these as they invade.
If squirrels infest your attic or walls, you’ll likely hear various noises they make.:
- Scampering and scratching sounds, especially at dawn/dusk
- Thumping and rustling from moving or chewing
- High-pitched chirping or barking
- Activity peaks when raising young
Hearing unusual noises, particularly at night or early in the morning, often indicates the presence of squirrels.
Squirrels target easier human food options:
- Raiding fruit/veggie gardens
- Scattering trash from bins
- Stealing pet food
- Raiding bird feeders
- Eating shed pet fur for nests
Keep an eye on your food sources, as squirrels are known to boldly steal and disturb them.
Droppings and Gnawed Objects
Other signs squirrels leave:
- Half-eaten fruit, nuts, or seeds
- Cached or buried food piles
- Shredded insulation/fabrics littered about
- Droppings along their routes
Finding chewed or hidden food is a strong indicator of a squirrel infestation in your area.
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.
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Mike is the Founder of Familylifeshare. Mike is well-knowledged in marriage, parenting, dogs, blogging and committed to sharing his knowledge and expertise with his readers. Know more about Mike from here.