Guidelines for Catching Squirrels

Ah, the squirrel. They are so darned cute and such darn pesky rodents, called tree rats by many. They spread diseases, steal food from bird feeders, taunt dogs, and can cause lots of problems in attics and walls. There’s the red squirrel, gray squirrel, brown squirrels, ground squirrels, fox squirrels. And all of them can create havoc on homes and pets. Squirrels give birth in the spring and in warmer areas, even the fall. Take this into mind when trapping. If you catch a mom with babies still in the nest, you could have a decaying smell within days. Try to wait until you can see the little ones out and about. Squirrels can be fiendishly clever, relentlessly acrobatic and sometimes even evil. They are so fast they can collect the food needed in about 20 minutes and spend the rest of the day terrorizing pets and birds. Their diet varies with the season and availability, nuts, fruits, flowers, plant buds, also bird eggs and some pounce on small birds at feeders. Several species are known to hoard grain and nuts to eat during the winter.

If you have bird feeders, research ways to make them squirrel proof. Some people have even elected to get rid of their bird feeders in order to get rid of the squirrels.

Before deciding to trap squirrels, please check with your local authorities that this is legal to do in your area.

Are you trapping squirrels that are outside or those that have found a way inside your home, such as your attic? Do you know where they are getting in? The first step is to plug any holes or areas very thoroughly, squirrels can gnaw another hole around patchwork very quickly.

Choosing the right squirrel trap.
We prefer the Tru-Catch 24 Tuffy, the DU09 Durapoly spring trap or any of the smaller traps. The correct size is about 24 x 8 x 9 or slightly larger. For the 24 Tuffy gravity squirrel trap, get a snap ring or carabineer clip and fasten the trap door to the frame. When you are transporting, if you have to hit the brakes and the trap rolls, you could have a squirrel loose in the car with you or loose in your trunk. Keep the snap clipped to the trap for storage so it’s always there when you need it. The best bait, hands down, is chunky peanut butter shoved right into the far end of the trigger pan. Then drop a few seeds, nuts, grains, cereals behind the trigger. Make sure that the bait is all in the trap and not sprinkled around the trap. You don’t want him filling up before hand or he might not go into the trap. Filbert nuts are a favorite, you don’t have to crack open the nuts, leave them whole. Or mix honey or molasses with oatmeal and birdseed. Hand roll them into little balls and use for bait.

When you have your catch, you must quickly transport the little creature to a new home. Cover the trap with a towel or rug and have a piece of carpeting with a plastic bag underneath to set the trap on. This prevents feces and urine in your car or car trunk. I have heard everything from 3 miles to 15 miles for distance. The important thing is that his new home has a food and water supply. Over a river or reservoir is your best bet. Or you could have him coming back to visit you. The squirrel is going to be very verbal on the trip. Make sure you are wearing high quality animal handling gloves to prevent scratches and bites when handling the trap and releasing the squirrel. Usually where there is one squirrel, there are more. It might take a few more trips if you hear walking in the attic or hear the trap go off. Please remember to check the trap often, don’t forget you have a baited trap set, sometimes out of sight is out of mind.

A few fun facts:
There are over 350 varieties of squirrels, ranging from four inches in length to over 3 feet in length. The squirrel family comprises approx. 40% of all mammals. Average life span for a squirrel is 3-5 years. There’s a wealth of information available online on squirrels, we encourage you to educate yourself with other methods of controlling the squirrel population in your area. We wish you a successful and happy trapping experience.