How to Trap Red Squirrels: Ultimate Guide
You may not want to harm red squirrels occurring in your area, but they can be a real nuisance and it may be necessary to trap them.
They steal the food from bird feeders, destroy your beautiful garden and. house, raid the trash can, and seem to do nothing good for your property.
It sometimes becomes necessary to trap and possibly relocate or euthanize them in order to get rid of them for good. How do you do eliminate them from your property humanely and effectively?
To trap red squirrels, conduct pre-baiting with seeds and nuts for several days and set at least six traps for best results. Camouflage and place the squirrel traps in natural surroundings. You can also use traps with one-way doors so you can relocate the squirrels later.
Trapping red squirrels, however, is not a simple matter of just setting up the trap and leaving it in sites with red squirrel sightings.
There are many other considerations regarding successful trapping, with the eventual goal of eradicating squirrels away from your home’s immediate surroundings. We will discuss these considerations in detail.
How To Successfully Trap Red Squirrels
Prior to trapping, you have to eliminate all the food available in your area as much as possible. This is particularly true for your bird feeder and your garbage.
You should set up several traps, about six traps at the minimum. Conduct pre-baiting for the first few days to see if the food is being taken by the squirrels.
If these food items are all taken within a single day, you can then set your traps for real.
Red squirrels easily learn from traps, and will quickly realize not to take the bait. It is therefore extremely important that you hit these squirrels hard at your very first attempt.
Do not give the squirrels time to get educated and realize that they should avoid your traps.
If the squirrels are inside buildings, the number of squirrels that go in and out of it could be hard to determine before the trapping operation has been concluded.
During the season of spring, there is a statistically higher likelihood of females nursing offspring. Males do not assist in in raising the young; only the females take care of offspring.
It is also possible to have multiple nesting females in a single building, depending on the size of the structure. It is not as common, but it occurs.
Human influence on the environment, including urbanization, has also caused animals to adapt, and squirrels have adapted well to human presence.
It could occur to you to wait until the adult squirrels living inside your structure to leave to forage for food before you simply decide to close the access hole it is using.
Unfortunately, it is important for you to consider if it is a mother squirrel nesting some offspring inside your building.
You should make sure that there are no other adult or young squirrels left behind. It is also possible for the squirrel to chew their way back inside from another part of your house.
If you close the squirrel’s hole, there is the possibility of causing its young to become abandoned and die. The same problem will ensue when you trap their mother, even if you do not close their hole.
Closing a squirrel’s hole will most probably cause it to have abandoned young inside, if it was done from early spring to mid-summer. This is due to the fact that squirrels mate two times a year.
With this in mind, you should wait to close holes only after you have started seeing the squirrel’s young moving out of their nest.
As they start to become more mature with time, they start going out of the nest and hanging around outside their hole. Once they become mobile, you can begin trapping them.
During summer, you should also wait for the heat of the season to reach very high temperatures. These conditions force squirrels to move out. However, there are newer homes with attics that are more drafty, so that squirrels can stay there for the entire year.
If you trapped the parent in early spring and her young die, their bodies will eventually start decaying and will emit a very bad smell.
Another thing you must consider before trapping animals is to be aware of your local laws regarding wildlife.
For example, there are states that do not allow relocation of wildlife, which you will probably need to do once you have caught the animals and want to dispose of them humanely. Contact the agencies in your state that are concerned with these affairs.
Also, keep in mind that relocating wildlife to a different area is not necessarily the more humane option in comparison to killing or euthanizing it.
There are many problems and challenges that an animal will have to face if you relocate them.
First, it has to look for a new home in its new surroundings. It will also need to look for sources of food and water in its new habitat.
While doing all of these, it also has to be aware and try to avoid predators, all while having to accomplish everything prior to the time it needs to take shelter and sleep, so that it does not freeze or fall prey to other animals.
In addition to all of these, it will also be stressed from the resident animal population, and vice versa. This is due to the fact that the newcomer needs to fight for a piece of territory that already belongs to others.
The newcomer may also potentially bring infectious diseases that could disrupt the health and ecological balance of the residents and the area it was relocated to.
Placement Of Squirrel Traps
Aside from choosing the right choice of trap, their correct placement is one of the key elements that will determine the success of your trapping operation. Successful trapping depends on proper trap placement.
The first consideration in this aspect is to select areas where you have previously seen signs of activity of squirrels, and where sightings of squirrels have been made.
Squirrel activity is normal near the trash bin area as well as the birdfeeder.
If the squirrels have been seen and are disrupting your garden, you may put your trap along the pathways that they use to go to and from your place. You should position your trap in a stable and level ground. You have to select an area with sure stability.
Set your traps at the closest possible position relative to the squirrel’s point of entrance in your property or building. Inspect the structure thoroughly to determine where the squirrels exit and enter.
Do not place your traps in a location or position where birds are able to see them. If there is no way around it, cover your traps.
It is also useful to camouflage your trap using brush, leaves and twigs in order to let it blend more with the natural environment and make it less threatening to squirrels.
It is even helpful to make it look more “dirty” and “break in” your trap, which you can do by covering it with dirt and spraying water on the dirt.
You also need to test out your trap for two days or so before actually setting it so that the squirrels will not see it as a threat. You can conduct the testing trap by simply fastening the trap’s door/s open, with bait placed in it.
Prior to any trapping operation, you should have already coordinated with your local officials and possibly the humane and wildlife society or commission regarding what to do with the animals once they are trapped.
What’s the best bait for trapping red squirrels?
There are many good squirrel trap baits, but some are better than others. Speaking from experience, one of the best baits you may use is peanut butter.
You may place peanuts to form a trail of bait which leads to the trap. You can also smear peanut butter on the trap’s trigger mechanism to increase the likelihood of making the trap irresistible to the squirrels.
You can also coat the peanuts themselves with peanut butter; this has been shown to attract squirrels mere hours after it has been placed.
It is advisable to use bait that is squirrel-specific in order to increase the probability of catching them. Red squirrels are slightly more finicky compared to grey squirrels, although both species like eating seeds and nuts. Popcorn and cereal are favorite food items as well.
It is quite possible for squirrels to successfully steal the bait without tripping the trigger, because they have a light weight. Thus, when they steal the bait, they sometimes fail to trigger the trap’s mechanism.
Types Of Traps
There are several kinds of traps useful for catching squirrels.
For example, there are types with two points of entry or doors.
This could potentially be more successful in catching squirrels because there is less hesitance on the part of the animal to enter the trap. The reason for this is because it can see through it.
There are several kinds of traps in the market which have various features and corresponding effectiveness. There are traps that can easily be set with just one hand.
Many traps can be used in different weather conditions, and many are also rust-resistant. Most of them can also be re-used and are humane to squirrels.
Some types of traps have older designs and are considered to be less effective, but sometimes, a trial and error process is needed to know which traps are most effective in your area.
Some of the models of traps that have two doors can be harder to set due to the double doors.
There is also a higher possibility of squirrels being able to steal the bait without setting off the trap. This is because the trap will only work if both doors are triggered at the same time.
One of the problems in setting the two-door trap is the need to set the multiple levers against each other to set the trigger points.
Some people who have had experience with these types of traps found that bait is often stolen without the squirrels being caught.
Many users had to modify the trap extensively just to make it useful and effective.
One modification involved drilling the top side of the trap in order to be able to put a wire there with which to fasten the bait, such as corn cob, so that the bait is at the ceiling over the trigger.
Users also report greasing the trap’s trigger mechanism, as well as bending the trigger bars to make them more sensitive to tripping. Sometimes, however, this causes the trap trigger to become too sensitive, so that even a slight wind is enough to set the trap off.
Due to such modifications to these traps, their effectiveness may increase, although this is not a certainty.
Unfortunately, these traps can take significant time to set, sometimes taking up to twenty minutes to set each trap, which includes the time that the bait is wired and the hair-trigger is set.
Meanwhile, a single-door trap with a similar design may not work better, either.
The problem with such traps, even if they are modified, wired, and greased, is that squirrels are too light to set them off. Medium-sized traps may work better with raccoons, as they are heavier.
It may be possible to use a type of trap that does not depend on a trigger mechanism. This type of trap may have a one-way door, so that a squirrel may walk through the trap door but cannot walk back out.
With this type of trap, there are no complicated mechanisms involved, and setting it up is very easy. You just need to place it on the location you chose, toss some peanuts or other bait in it, and you are all set. It is best to set it in natural surroundings, just like any other trap.
Just as with other traps, some minor modifications may need to be made to make the trap more effective. Such modifications may include keeping the bait inaccessible from the outside and making the trap mesh gaps smaller to be able to trap smaller, younger squirrels.
Of course, you can try out other traps, such as those with a more effective trigger mechanism or those that have sizes that are more appropriate for your target animal.
Here’s my favorite squirrel trap:
Rugged Ranch Squirrelinator
I also reviewed a bunch of other squirrel traps (including electronic ones) below:
Best Electronic And Non-Electronic Squirrel Traps
Disposing of the squirrels
Once the squirrel has been caught, you have the option of euthanizing it, relocating it (in accordance with your local laws), or simply kill, clean, and gut it.
Squirrels are quite tasty and are cooked much like you would cook a rabbit. Never eat a squirrel that has been poisoned.
When To Conclude Trapping
How will you know if all the problem squirrels have been rounded up and eradicated?
If they have been plaguing your home, you can check if there are still squirrels inside by monitoring the access hole.
You can plug their holes with newspaper in order to monitor squirrel activity. You can use your extension painters’ pole and squeeze the sheet of newspaper around its tip, then you can extend it to the hole to plug it.
With the combination of the 20-foot length of the pole and your own height, it is already possible to plug the majority of holes of a home with two floors. Always be mindful of power lines that may be present.
If the newspaper plugs are not disturbed or moved after five days of fairly good weather, you can safely assume that no squirrels are inside your home anymore. You may then safely seal these holes.
Are red squirrels considered bad for your home and yard?
Red squirrels can cause a lot of damage to your property. They eat tree seeds and can peel back bark to damage the tree. They destroy plants and the aesthetic look of your yard and garden. They damage birdfeeders.
When they nest inside your house, they cause noises that are very annoying. They also destroy anything and everything that they chew, including walls, electrical wires, and other structures. They create holes in walls, under soffits, on sidings, and the insulation.
Their nests and chewing habits can cause fire hazards. They also leave droppings that are odorous and which may spread diseases.
What can you find squirrel activity?
There are many travel paths that squirrels take. You may place your traps there; just make sure they are always on flat surfaces.
Squirrels can run through trees down to their base; along the walls where they make holes, such as along the walls of your crawlspace, shed, and attic; along the fence line near birdfeeders; and on the roof near areas with trees and powerlines that are accessible to them.
This knowledge is useful to let you decide where to place traps. It is also generally best to place traps in natural surroundings to decrease suspicion by squirrels. You can also camouflage the traps to make them look more natural.
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