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How to Catch a Squirrel

Last Updated: 14.07.24


In case you’ve been looking for an effective squirrel repellent, you might have had some damage done by these otherwise adorable rodents around your property. Even though they are such small creatures, squirrels are known for the number of problems they can create.

From infesting a yard to eating birdseed, and sometimes even getting into the attic, these animals surely take their time to find the food they like. The good part, however, is that you can catch them relatively easily and then remove them from the property.

The best way to do this is by building or buying a humane trap that is effective and that allows you to release the squirrel back into the wild. Even though “death traps” are also available on the market, when it comes to squirrels this seems like a harsh solution.

Going back to humane traps, one of the first options you can go for is a single-animal live cage to catch the little guys. Most of the models available for purchase are made of metal and feature a trip-lever system on the back. When a squirrel walks into it, allured by some delicious bait, it trips the lever which causes the door to shut.

This way, the rodent is caught alive, with no harm done greater than a scare, and you can safely take it away to a place where it can find a new life. If you intend to use such a trap, you can mount it on one of the holes squirrels use to get into and out of a certain space.

Moreover, the cage needs to be large enough for these rodents. The general rule says it should have a length of at least 16 inches, as well as a height and width of 5 inches. On the other hand, if you enjoy building things on your own, you can make a one-way trap yourself.


Building a trap

Such a solution works well for indoor squirrel infestations. The first step is to figure out the place these rodents are using to get into and out of the house. Next, you can build a cone-shaped item with the smaller opening facing the opposite side of the hole.

The idea behind this trap is that a squirrel can pass through the smaller opening leading outside, but without being able to get back into the house. However, you should be aware that oftentimes mother squirrels hide their young into attics, so if the mother cannot get back inside, these might die unless you lure them all out.

Baiting is another aspect you need to consider, and the most effective alternatives for squirrels consist of nuts and grains. You can successfully use peanut butter since is not something these rodents find in their environment but it does have a delicious flavor. For excellent results, you can simply spread some peanut butter onto a fresh piece of bread.

You can use other things as well, such as nuts, mixes, seeds, or fresh fruits, but you should steer clear of any meat or dairy product. Once you chose the bait, an effective tactic is to trick the squirrels a bit by leaving small pieces of it out in the open, with no trap around or with a disabled one.

This way, they can get used to the taste and grow confident in having tasty meals without any danger. If you do this for a couple of days, there are two main benefits for the entire process. First of all, you can see whether the squirrels do like the bait or not, and secondly, they will become more confident and less alert, allowing you to catch them with less hassle.



Placing the trap

In case you are going for a single-animal cage trap with bait, then you need to place it around those areas where you’ve noticed squirrel activity. If you’ve seen the little rodents in the backyard, enjoying the birdseed, you should place it near there, so that they can find it as they move around. The same goes if you’ve seen a squirrel in the attic.

Furthermore, the trap’s opening needs to be both enticing thanks to the bait and easily accessible for the little guys. If you’re not sure where these rodents hang out around your property, you can look for signs such as pine cone shreds and pieces of nut shells.

Since squirrels tend to be active during the first half of the day, you should check the trap daily and see if it worked. Plus, make sure to leave enough food for the squirrel to remain alive, in order to safely release it back into nature. A piece of bread with peanut butter should do the trick. You can also leave a small bowl of water within the cage.

Change the bait every 2 or 3 days, just to keep it fresh and tasty. Furthermore, we know that squirrels can be a nuisance, but there are essentially harmless animals so don’t scare them too much as you take them to another location. In case you’ve taken all the steps above and the trap is not working, you can try changing its location or the bait.


Removing a squirrel from your property

Once you have trapped a squirrel you need to determine what you are going to do with it next. For a guilt-free conscience, the right approach is to release it back into the wild. However, you should take it at least a mile away from the place you caught it in, since these rodents, just like many other animals, tend to find their way back.

Some species, such as the eastern gray squirrels, have a larger home range, so you might want to take these even further to reduce their chances of coming back. Water streams can also be a solution if you are not sure whether the little animal can come back or not.

It’s true that squirrels can swim, but if we’re talking about a larger river, they won’t try to make it back home. Of course, if there’s any type of natural bridge they can use, then this approach doesn’t work, but it’s still something you can keep in mind.



In cases of large populations, you might catch more than one squirrel, so you should know that releasing them all at once is not an issue. Granted, you might need to use a car in order to carry all the cages, but otherwise, there’s nothing you should worry about.

However, you do want to avoid releasing them close to other properties. You should look for a wooded area, such as forests or parks to get the job done. If they are close to other properties, they might end up going there and causing problems for others as well.

Also, once you’ve reached the releasing area, gently place the cage on the ground and open the door. The squirrel might be too afraid at first to get out, so you can simply take a few steps back from the trap and give it a bit of time to run away. It will grasp the first chance it gets, and then you can get the cage back to wish it a happy life.  




1) How to Catch a Squirrel

2) Use Cages To Catch Squirrels

3) How to trap a squirrel

4) How to Make a Squirrel Trap



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