How to Trap Squirrels: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know

Squirrels aren’t as harmless as they appear. They can cause a lot of harm to your yard, and they’re even worse if they happen to find a way inside your home. If you’re facing a similar dilemma, then you’ve come to the right place. This article covers how to trap squirrels in a humane, safe way.

You’ll also find a handful of tips and techniques to guide you both before and after the capture!

How to Trap Squirrels Using Live Traps

Have you come across a squirrel in your home or yard and are looking for a humane way to remove it? Try these quick and easy steps.

Step 1: Pick Your Squirrel Trap

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Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The first thing you have to do is buy a live trap specially designed for squirrels. They’re basically metal cages that come with a trip-lever positioned in the back of the cage. They work for trapping squirrels both inside and outside.

Make sure you’ve picked the right type of squirrel trap. If you’re not sure which one to choose, ask any one of your local fishing and hunting supply stores. You can also purchase them online.

In general, live traps should be no less than 5 inches wide, 16 inches long, and 5 inches high. This is the size of a live trap that’s large enough to hold the squirrel without hurting or injuring it in any way.

Step 2: Set the Bait For the Squirrel Trap

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Let’s start by talking about what not to put in a squirrel trap. First off, stay away from dairy products. They can make squirrels sick because their digestive systems can’t break down the enzymes. Something else you should never offer squirrels is meat. Also, make sure you don’t put foods high in sugar and salt in the trap. All these can cause serious health problems for the squirrels.

Now, let’s talk about what you can offer as bait. There are many types of food you can use to lure the squirrel into walking into the live trap.

One common bait is to spread some peanut butter on a piece of toast. Basically, any type of bread can be used because squirrels sniff out the grains.

Another idea is to spread some seeds or nuts in a shallow bowl. Their favorite seeds include sunflower and pumpkin seeds. They also enjoy almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts.

When you’ve chosen a decoy, place it behind the trigger plate. As the squirrel heads for the food, it’ll activate the trigger and the trap door will close.

Step 3: Find the Best Place For The Trap

Choosing the perfect spot depends on several factors. The most important one is whether you’ll be placing it inside or outside your home. Keep reading to find out more.

Inside the House

Squirrels have been known to get into homes. Sometimes, they sneak in through an open window or door. Other times, they may fall down the chimney and walk in through the fireplace.

That poor squirrel is probably shaking with fright, desperate to find its way out. So, your first plan of action should be to close all inside doors. Then, just open an exterior door or window.

Even if you’re in a second-story window or the attic, they’ll be able to jump out safely. Squirrels are quite resilient and nimble. They also move in quick, short bursts, so don’t be alarmed when they try to make a sudden run for it.

What if there are no possible exits? Then, we move onto Plan B.

Get your live trap and set the bait. Then, place the cage on the floor and close the door. It may take a couple of hours, so be patient. Once the squirrel calms down and realizes it’s not in any danger, the first thing it’ll go for is the food.

Once inside, it’ll step on the platform and the trap door will slide shut. That’s when you can safely escort it far away from your home.

Outside the House

Placing a live trap outside in the yard may be counterintuitive, but it does work. The best place would be at the base of their favorite tree. You can also place it near entry points to your house.

For the bait, make sure you use something they can’t find in your backyard or come across very often. Instead of placing seeds, try to use fresh fruits. The squirrels will be able to pick up the sweet scent and come running.

To entice the squirrel to come near the trap means you have to think outside the box — literally! A good idea would be to leave small pieces of snacks in the open. Leave a trail, starting from the trap door until the tree trunk.

You can even do this a couple of days before you even set the trap. It’s an effective way to train the squirrels to seek out these snacks in certain places. So, when the time comes to set the trap, they’ll know exactly where to go.

Step 4: Release the Squirrel

If you caught the squirrel inside your home, then you’ll need to carry the trap outside while it’s shut. Next, take the trap as far away from your home as you can.

Set the trap gently and give the squirrel a few minutes to calm down. When you’re both ready, carefully slide open the trap door.

Don’t be surprised if the little critter doesn’t immediately dash out of the cage. The squirrel may be feeling scared and nervous, so give it some space by taking a few steps away from the trap.

What about if the trap was already outside? You’ll do the same thing as above.

It’s worth mentioning that squirrels can find their way back to your yard if they’re released within a 3-mile radius. Experts recommend you release them 10 miles away from your home to make sure they can’t find their way back.

How to Trap Squirrels Using a Blanket

This technique is better suited for trapping squirrels indoors. Before trying it out, remember to leave an exterior door or window open. The squirrel may jump out on its own and save you the hassle.

If that doesn’t work and you don’t have a live trap on hand, then it’s time for the blanket-over-the-squirrel method.

Read ahead for more.

Step 1: Lure the Squirrel Out

To lure the squirrel to a particular spot in the room, place some of the snacks we mentioned above. Peanut butter and apples get the fastest results.

The main aim is to get the squirrel backed into a corner. So, if there’s any furniture, move it to the side before placing the food.

Step 2: Put On a Pair of Heavy Gloves

This step is just a safety measure. If everything goes as planned, you won’t even come in contact with the squirrel.

When the squirrel’s happily snacking away, it’s time for the gloves to come on. Frightened creatures tend to bite or scratch. Putting on some thick work gloves can help protect you.

Step3: Hold Up the Blanket

You must hold up the blanket so the little critter doesn’t see you. Walk slowly without making any noises or sudden moves.

If you prefer, you can also use a sheet or a large towel. The important thing is for the squirrel not to see you or it’ll get frightened and run away.

Step 4: Toss the Blanket

As soon as you’re close enough, throw the blanket over the squirrel. Then, in one swooping motion, loosely roll up the blanket.

Make sure the squirrel is trapped, but still able to breathe. Make sure you don’t put too much pressure on the blanket to avoid injuring the little guy.

If it somehow gets away, then you’ll need to start from the beginning. However, keep in mind that squirrels are smart. So, they won’t come to the bait as willingly as the first time. Plus, you may need to switch corners.

Step 5: Release the Squirrel

With the blanket gently wrapped around the squirrel, take it outside. Next, place the blanket on the ground and gently unroll it.

Wait a few minutes until the squirrel is ready to run off. You can even walk away from the blanket for a few minutes to give it a sense of security.

How to Trap Squirrels: Tips and Techniques

Here are a few helpful tips to guide you through the process.

Read the Instructions Carefully

The idea behind live traps is generally the same. You place the metal cage somewhere the squirrels are likely to go to. You pull the door open and set the bait. Finally, you slide the retaining hook inside as a means of locking the door in place.

Even though the idea is similar, the instructions for setting up each one is different. The important thing is to read the directions carefully before setting up the trap.

Avoid Touching the Platform

Touching the platform, or pedal is one of the most common mistakes many trap users make. It usually happens when they’re either setting up the trap itself or putting in the bait. Then, all of a sudden, the retaining hook is moved and the door closes on their arm.

To avoid this from happening, be careful that you don’t touch the platform inside the metal cage. Try to work around it to prevent injuring yourself or damaging the live trap.

Check the Trap Daily

Once you’ve set up the bait and the trap is ready for its visitor, make sure you check up on it a couple of times a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening should be enough.

If there aren’t any squirrels, you should remove old, stale bait. Replace it with fresh, tasty snacks that’ll entice the little critters and lure them towards the trap.

Remember, these cute pests can’t last too long without food. So, you’ll need to release it as quickly as possible once the mission goes as planned.

Set Up a Timeline

Mark the date when you first set up the trap. If it’s been a week and you haven’t caught any squirrels, it’s time to change tactics.

It could be that the type of bait you’re using isn’t enticing enough. So, think about switching the type of bait you’ve been using with something more appealing. If you’ve been using nuts and seeds, try something juicy, like fresh pieces of tasty fruit.

The other thing you have to consider is the location. You may have set up the trap in an area that squirrels tend to avoid for some reason. Keep an eye on where squirrels congregate the most, such as in the garden, and place one or two traps around those areas.


Learning how to trap squirrels can come in handy. Most people think that squirrels are tiny and seemingly harmless. Yet, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Squirrels hibernate during the winter months. Then, starting in April, they re-emerge, along with their new breed of litters, ready to take on the world.

Use our in-depth guide to catch squirrels and release them at a safe distance from your property. It can help you avoid the devastation and ruin they leave wherever they go.