Humane Squirrel Trap Options

 


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Squirrels can cause major headaches for homeowners. Even one or two squirrels in the attic and house can cause damage to things like walls, beams, and wiring ... and an infestation just multiplies the damage! Once a squirrel problem is identified, immediate steps should be taken to prevent the problem from becoming worse. There are a couple of humane options available.

Live Cage Trap

Live cage traps are the most commonly known type of trap and are sold online and in some retail stores. They can be for a single capture only, or for multiple captures at the same time. The single capture trap has a trip mechanism that closes the door when the squirrel enters to take the bait.

The trap needs to be large enough to hold the squirrel, otherwise when the door shuts it could injure the animal. Likewise, if the trap is too large, the squirrel may panic and injure itself when it flings itself around the cage to try to get out.

A repeating live cage trap can capture more than one squirrel at once. The trap is mounted at the entry hole the squirrels are using to get in and out of the house. All other entry points are sealed up, forcing the squirrels to use the trap when they go outside to get food or water. The trap has a one-way door - once the squirrel goes through the door they are trapped inside, alive, but cannot re-enter the house.

Regardless of which type of trap used, it should be checked regularly and often. It is very stressful for wildlife to be trapped inside a cage. Left too long, they can die from hunger, dehydration or stress (even after being released), which defeats the 'humane' aspect of it. Always make sure to closely follow the directions on how to set the trap. Doing it incorrectly may injure or even kill the squirrel.

One-Way Door Exclusion Trap or Funnel

Even though it's often referred to as a one-way exclusion door, it's really more of a funnel. They are mounted in the same way as the repeater cage trap - all entry points are closed off except for the one-way door. Unlike the repeater cage trap, though, the one-way door is open on the end. The squirrel is able to push its way through the "door" which then closes up once the squirrel passes, preventing it from re-entering the home.

These one-way exclusion traps can be made at home using a piece of 1/4" hardware cloth, about 8 to 12 inches long. There will be a "factory-finished" end of the cloth where the points are blunted - use this end to bend the points slightly outwards. Roll up the cloth into a funnel shape. Once rolled into a funnel shape, the points should be facing inwards towards the middle of the funnel.

Mount the funnel on the main entry hole, making sure that all other entry points are closed off. The squirrel will be able to squeeze through the hole but will not be able to get back in, since the funnel hole will "close up" again once the squirrel passes through.

The one-way door is simple and effective, but not without problems. First of all, the size of the hole (door) has to be appropriate - too small, and the squirrel may not be able to slip through; too large, and the door may not close up tight enough to prevent the squirrel from re-entering. A

Also, if the house structure surrounding the trap is in poor condition and easily chewable (ie. made from wood), a determined rodent may simply chew a new hole and re-enter the home. For this reason, sometimes a one-way exclusion trap isn't appropriate and it is better to use a live cage trap for removal and then relocate the animal, if permitted by law. A commercial or homemade rodent repellent can be sprayed around the areas of the trap to try to dissuade the squirrel from chewing new holes.

A Note of Caution - Baby Squirrels

Often times, when a squirrel enters a home it's because it is a female about to give birth and seeking a safe place to raise her babies. It is not a good idea to trap a nursing female squirrel and separate her from her babies. Other than being inhumane, the babies will die without their mother and then the homeowner will have another problem: how to remove the dead and decomposing bodies from the home. The babies will likely be stashed somewhere difficult to access (ie. somewhere safe).

Spring (January through to April) and fall (August through to September) are the times when baby squirrels are born. If you see a single squirrel entering or leaving the home around this time, chances are good that there are babies. It's best to wait until the babies are old enough to move around on their own before beginning trapping. Around 12 to 14 weeks of age, the babies will be up and about on their own.

Using a squirrel trap is a humane pest control option for squirrel control if the trap is used properly and with care. There are some drawbacks to using live rodent traps. Also note that in some jurisdictions you may need a license or permit to handle squirrels, and not all jurisdictions will allow the relocation of wildlife. Check with the appropriate authorities prior to starting, or ask a professional pest control service for help. It is often easier and less stressful to have professionals handle the work as they have the necessary experience, equipment, and permits to deal quickly and effectively with the situation.