How to trap squirrels: Strategies, tips, and techniques

Squirrels taking over your home and garden? In this article, we show you how to trap squirrels in our handy pest guide!

Squirrels aren’t as harmless as they appear. They can cause a lot of harm to your backyard and they’re even worse if they happen to find a way inside your home.

In this article, we’ll cover how to traps squirrels in a humane and safe way. You’ll also find a handful of tips and techniques to guide you both before and after you’ve captured one.

How to trap squirrels using live traps

Step 1: Get a trap specifically for squirrels

First, buy a live trap specially designed for squirrels. They are metal cages that come with a trip-lever positioned in the back of the cage. These kinds of cages work in 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 your local fishing and hunting supply stores. You can also purchase one online.

But in general, live traps should be no less than 5 inches wide, 16 inches long, and 5 inches high. The size is intended to be large enough to hold a squirrel without hurting the catch in any way.

Step 2: Set the bait

First off, stay away from dairy products like cheese. Dairy products can make squirrels sick because squirrel’s digestive system can’t break down the enzymes. Something else you should never offer squirrels is meat and foods high in sugar or salt.


Now, let’s talk about what you can offer as bait.

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

Another idea to bait squirrels 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.

Put the decoy behind the trigger plate. As the squirrel goes for the bait, 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.

Trapping squirrels 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.

Your first plan of action should be to close all inside doors. Then, just open all exterior doors or windows.

Don’t worry if you’re in a second-story window or the attic. Squirrels are very agile and can execute amazing leaps. They also move in quickly so don’t be alarmed when they try to make a sudden run.

If there are no possible exits, then get your live trap and set the bait. 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 will 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 home.

Trapping squirrels 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 putting seeds, try to use fresh fruits instead. Squirrels can easily pick up the smell and when they do, they’ll come running.

A good strategy is 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: Releasing the squirrels

The next step is to take the trap away from your home as far as possible.

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.

It’s worth mentioning that squirrels can find their way back to your hard if they are released within a 3-mile radius. Experts recommend releasing 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.

Step 1: Lure the squirrel out

To lure the squirrel to a particular spot in the room, place some of the snacks. 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.

Put on the gloves while the squirrel is happily snacking away. Frightened creatures tend to bite or scratch. Putting on some thick work gloves can help protect you.

Step 3: 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. Don’t put too much pressure on the blanket to keep the squirrel from injury.

If for some reason it gets away, just 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. Switch corners if needed.

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

Read the instructions

The idea behind the live trap is the same: place the metal cage somewhere the squirrels are likely to go. 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.

While the idea is similar, the instructions for setting up each one are different. Read the instructions carefully before setting up the trap.

Avoid touching the platform

Touching the platform or pedal is one of the most common mistakes beginners 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.

Be careful to not touch the platform inside the metal cage and try to work around it to prevent harming yourself or damaging the live trap.

Check the trap daily

Once your trap is ready, make sure you check it a couple of times a day. Probably once in the morning, noon, and evening.

If there isn’t any catch, remove old and stale bait. Replace it with fresh and more enticing snacks. Remember that these cute pests can’t last too long without any food.

Setup a timeline

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

It could be that the type of bait you are using isn’t enticing enough. If you’ve been using nuts and seeds, try something juicy like fresh pies of tasty fruits.

Another consideration 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 gather the most, such as 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.

If you’re looking for ways on getting rid of squirrels without using a live trap, we published an article on how to do that.