Tired of squirrels damaging your property? Thought that squirrels were funny and amusing at first, but then realized that the reality is unforgivingly different? You are not alone. We’ve written this guide to help you choose the most effective traps to get rid of these pretty but annoying creatures. You’ll learn different types of traps and how they work, what to look for when choosing a trap, pros and cons, tips, life hacks, and rules to hasten the success of your squirrel adventure. By the end of the article we’ll cover TOP 5 most effective squirrel traps.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t come out in bumper stickers, and sometimes you realize that the charming, lovely creatures can, in fact, become disturbing pests.
Squirrels damage plants, shrubs, vines; devour vegetables and fruits; gnaw on sprinklers, irrigation lines, and cables; present hazards to plowing machinery, and pedestrians. Moreover, they can carry diseases that are dangerous to humans, such as bubonic plague.
What You Will Learn from This Guide:
- Types of squirrels: read to follow the law
- Prevention steps: 4 basic rules to keep squirrels out of your house
- How it works: types of traps and their differences
- What to look for when buying
- TOP 5 best squirrel traps
Before we dive in any further, let’s cover some legal issues, since it’s very important to distinguish between species before taking control measures. Some species are endangered and therefore federally protected, others are considered game animals and their regulation is even more complicated.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s say that there are tree squirrels and ground squirrels. It’s relatively easy to differentiate between the two.
The ground squirrel forage aboveground near their burrows, have grey fur, and when frighten always retreat to their burrows, rather than climb a tree (unlike a tree squirrel for that matter).
Under most federal state laws ground squirrels are considered non-game animals and can be controlled in any possible and relevant way, whereas tree squirrels are game animals and have a hunting season.
Tree squirrels. There are two types of tree squirrels, however, that can be still controlled by homeowners: eastern fox squirrels (without a permit) and grey squirrels (with a permit and recommendations from the state on which traps to use).
The general rule goes as follows: ground squirrels can be controlled in any way (poison baiting, trapping, repelling). But if you are dealing with tree squirrels, check your state laws and obtains a permit if necessary.
University of California biologists suggested trapping as one of the most effective control method that can be employed throughout the whole year for low to moderate populations of squirrels.
However, trapping should be a last resort. If you don’t take prevention steps and will still provide feeding opportunities, other squirrels will move into your property replacing the ones that were killed or trapped.
- Do not feed squirrels. If they realize you provide food, then they can become accustomed to it and will bring others for feeding.
- Eliminate access to buildings. Seal up all cracks and holes; keep shrubs and trees away from the house (at least 10 ft away).
- Prevent squirrels from climbing trees with birdhouses by installing metal barriers.
- Protect seeds by covering them temporarily with mesh wire; protect trees and plants with squirrel repellents.
There are several basic traps that can be used for killing or controlling rats.
Live-catch traps are not recommended by scientists, because of the disposal problem such traps entail. Yet again, you might even have to obtain a permit for release of caught squirrels.
Other types of traps include: tube-type traps, Conibear jaw spread body-gripping device, choker type box traps, foot-hold, and electric traps. Let’s cover how each of them works.
1. Tube-type traps are one of the most popular options, mainly because of the design, which prevents other animals from getting in. Squirrels like to squash themselves into tiny circular spaces, like pipes and tubes, thus, this type of trap will definitely catch squirrels’ attention. Also, if you have kids and other family members who can be disturbed or offended by seeing a dead animal, tube trap is an ethically proper option. Effectiveness & ease of use: 10
2. Conibear 110 trap with a jaw-spread of 4.5 inches is an effective trap, especially when set over a burrow entrance and disguised under a wooden box. The device instantly kills the squirrel that is passing through it. Make sure you keep kids and other animals away from the trap so they do not get injured. Effectiveness & ease of use: 9
3. Choker type box traps were initially designed for catching gophers, but then it turned out that they were pretty good at catching squirrels as well. The only thing that’s different from gopher traps is that pushing trigger mechanism is changed to pulling. Effectiveness & ease of use: 8
4. Foot-hold traps are foot-hold restraining devices designed to catch an animal by the foot. Unfortunately, though, scientists say that they are relatively inefficient, regardless of baiting and padding. Effectiveness & ease of use: 5
5. Live cage traps are designed to catch squirrels alive. While this option might seem humane, it is illegal in some states. Releasing a squirrel might also become a pain in the neck with obtaining relevant permits and driving to the area approved by the state for a wildlife release. If, however, you decide to use a live cage, ensure you buy at least a 24 inches long trap with a 9X9 inches opening, as scientists suggest. Effectiveness & ease of use: 3
6. Electric traps work by emitting a deadly high-voltage shock when a squirrel gets in. Usually the squirrel dies within seconds, so the trap can be described as relatively humane. However, on the downside, other species can be killed or severely injured. Effectiveness & ease of use: 7
Where to place squirrel traps?
- Place the traps wherever you see signs of squirrel activity: scratch marks, feeding signs, left feces, any other characteristic droppings.
- For ground squirrels, place the trap near burrow entrance, make it steady by covering it 2 inches with soil. Otherwise raise it off the ground to provide the secure flat base for the trap.
- For eastern fox squirrels place the trap at the base of the tree on the levelled-off structure, secure and covered, if necessary.
How much do squirrel traps cost?
The prices vary depending on the type of the trap, the material the trap is made of, as well as some other factors, like different sellers’ price quotes. The price range for simple plastic devices, like choker type traps or plastic gopher tubes is from $12 to $14. Galvanized steel live cages usually cost more, around $24-25 per trap.
The tubes made of steel are also pricey, around $40-50 per trap. The electric traps are more costly because they are technologically advanced and will cost you around $50.
Consider the following tips while looking for a squirrel trap:
- For live cage traps look for proper dimensions mentioned above (24 inches with 9x9 inches opening) with a door on each side.
- Also, make sure internal edges of a live trap are smooth to prevent unnecessary injuries.
- Look for Conibear 110 traps to come with at least 4.5 inches jaw spread
- If you choose to use an electric trap, see if it can be used outdoors: some traps which are intended to catch other rodents, such as mice and rats, can’t be used outdoors or will severely malfunction.
Now let’s look at the top 5 effective squirrel traps that are worth buying.
Conibear (a body gripping trap) Duke No.110 Magnum Body Trap
Duke 110 Magnum Trap comes with 4.5 inches jaw-spread, which fully corresponds to the scientists recommendations.
However, some buyers suggest that while it might be effective at catching squirrels, the trap is difficult to set up and might take up to 20 minutes per each trap. In particular, one buyer said that he had to resort to using a trigger clamp to get the spring to compress. So this is quite a powerful device and should be handled with greatest caution and kept out of reach of children and non target animals.
Price: Check current price
PestZilla Electric Squirrel Trap
Pestzilla Electric Trap kills a rodent with a 7000v electric shock. The length of the trap is 11 inches with 4.5x5 inches opening. Works from 4D batteries (not included) or requires a socket, comes with 5 ft plug-in adapter.
The product description says that the device can be used in kitchens, warehouses, homes, etc.; doesn’t really mention outdoors. So if you plan to use the electric trap, then do so in the attic or somewhere in-house, wherever squirrels might get it or be present.
Price: Check current price
Black Hole | Tube Squirrel Trap
The trap is lethal. When the squirrel goes 3 inches into the trap (approximately in the middle), the spring is triggered and the trap snaps.
The structure is quite sturdy, around 6 or 7 pounds, and comes with a spring triggered loop. Trap is approximately 6.5 inches in length and 3-3.5 inches in diameter.
To set the trap, push down on the spring bar, flip the trigger wire over, and then insert the trigger wire into the trigger hole. After a lot of use the sensitivity of the trigger wire might decline, but it can be easily adjusted with regular pliers.
Price: Check current price
Another slightly different option is Tube Squirrel Trap made of 21-gauge steel. The difference is primarily in the length of the tube, it’s 15 inches long and 4.5 inches in diameter. That would work well for larger or longer squirrels. Once the animal reaches the pad in the middle of the trap, the torsion spring is triggered and the trap snaps.
Price: Check current price
Victor Choker Type Box Trap
Victor Box Trap weighs around 10.5 pounds, so it’s quite heavy; around 6 inches long as the Homewares tube trap. Victor Choker Type Trap is made of weather resistant plastic and galvanized steel loop.
The working principle is the same as in the tube traps. The only thing that seems different is the shape of the trap. It comes with illustrated instructions, which makes it a lot easier to understand how to bait, and where to place the trap.
Please, make sure the triggers are reversed, so the bait must be pulled to activate the trigger instead of pushed (as it often comes pre-set for gophers).
Price: Check current price
Havahart 0745 Two-Door Squirrel Trap
This Havahart trap closely corresponds to the scientific’ recommendations with two doors available and the length of the trap being 18 inches. However, if you want to follow the recommendations given by the scientists even more closely, then go for a slightly different version of the same trap, namely Havahart Medium Two-Door Trap with 26 inches length and a 7 by 7 inches opening.
Havahart traps work just as well for other animals, such as chipmunks, rats, and weasels.
The doors are spring-loaded and have sensitive trigger to ensure quick and secure trapping. The internal edges are smooth to prevent animal from injuring itself while trying to get free. Made of galvanized steel.
Price: Check current price
Are squirrel traps legal?
Squirrel traps are legal but for catching only particular types of squirrels, like ground or eastern fox squirrels. Also, if you want to use live cages, then check catch-and-release laws of your state for details on how to dispatch or euthanize caught squirrels.
How to bait squirrel traps?
Squirrels eat variety of native foods. Consider baiting traps with walnuts, acorn, almonds, barley, or oats. That will work all year round. During the summer you may also try fruits and berries.
Where to place squirrel traps in the attic?
It’s best to hire a professional wildlife damage control company to get rid of the squirrels in the attic.
If, nevertheless, you decided to DIY, then it’s recommended to seal up all the holes first (except for the one to place the trap in) to prevent squirrels from getting in.
And only then place the traps. Set a cage or any other type of trap outside your house near that last hole that you left for trapping purposes. As for the inside: put the traps wherever you see squirrel activity, like damaged cables or furniture, left feces, etc.
Pros & Cons
- Trapping is considered to be one of the effective methods of catching squirrels.
- You can choose between killing and capturing live.
- Legal in most states for particular species (like ground squirrel).
- While trapping can be successful at catching squirrels, it will not eliminate rodents completely, because caught or dead squirrels can be replaced with new ones. So it’s import to take prevention steps to have better chances at driving squirrels away from your premises.
- It can be difficult to discern the differences between various species, and thus it’s possible to inadvertently break the law.
- Catching might be easy, but releasing might be a pain in the neck, since some states require obtaining a permit and follow particular guidelines.
- Can be pricey, especially when compared to rat traps.
7 Rules to follow and other usage tips: how to set the squirrel traps to maximize chances of successful hunt
- Place the traps on the ground (provided you want to catch ground squirrels) near active squirrel burrows and highways (regular travelling paths). Inactive burrows will be covered with leaves and other debris.
- Bait the traps with walnuts, almonds, oats, barley, acorn, or fruits and berries, and leave the traps unset for several days for squirrels to get accustomed to safety of the new objects.
- Rebait and set the traps.
- Always be cautious around pets and kids: cover the trap with a box with a round-shaped entranced approximately 3 inches in diameter.
- Make the trap steady by covering it for 2-3 inches with dirt or sand.
- Check the traps at least once a day; dispose of a dead squirrel only wearing protective gear (like gloves).
- Squirrels can reinvade the empty burrows, thus destroy the deserted burrows by ripping off the soil at least 30 inches deep.
Comparative Chart of Squirrel Traps
Trapping can be effective for low to moderate population of squirrels. It is primarily a measure of control rather than eradication. Unfortunately, new squirrels can relocate to your area and occupy vacant burrows. Thus, it’s crucial to employ other methods and take prevention steps to improve and sustain control measures.