How to Catch a Squirrel with a Live Trap

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How to Catch a Squirrel with a Live Trap

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Keith's Pro Tips

"Squirrels are skittish creatures. If you put your bait in a tray or cup and noticed that the squirrels are not taking the bait, try burying your bait just below the ground's surface under the trap. The squirrel will enter the trap and naturally dig for the bait, increasing your odds of capture."

How to Catch a Squirrel with a Live Trap

Squirrels are often depicted as a cute animal burying acorns and having chubby cheeks. However, these creatures can cause severe damage like chewing on electrical wiring and gnawing holes in your walls. One method of removing a squirrel from your property is using a live trap to catch and release the animal. Live trapping is a safe and effective way to keep animals away from your home.

If you want to catch a squirrel with a live trap, read this guide for instructions and product recommendations.


Before using a live trap, you need to make sure that the wild animal you are dealing with is a squirrel. This will ensure that you are using the correct bait and strategies.

Squirrels are generally between 8 and 20 inches long and weigh no more than 2 pounds. They have a bushy tail. These animals are quite chatty and will make noises similar to barks and purrs in order to communicate with one another. Squirrels are active during the daytime and are excellent climbers.

Use the image and description above to confirm that you are dealing with a squirrel on your property.


Once you've confirmed that your pest animal is a squirrel, it is helpful to recognize the areas where it is most active. This is where you will place your live trap.

Where to Inspect

You want to pick areas that have high activity from squirrels. These animals are most likely searching your property for food. Birdfeeders, as well as any vegetation, will most likely be spots where squirrels are most active. You will also want to check in trees for hollowed areas or nests. Squirrels will typically look for tree nuts, fruits, and berries. If you have gardens, check that area as well.

What to Look For

Fruit and vegetable gardens will have gnaw marks or eaten food if there is squirrel activity. You may also notice nests in trees. If squirrels are in your attic, you may hear thumping in the daytime or notice damaged shingles and voids in your attic. Items that have chew marks such as wood and wiring are also signs of squirrel activity.


Now that you've identified your pest animal as a squirrel and taken note of areas where it is most active, you can use your live trap. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the trap to prevent leaving your scent. If a squirrel picks up a human scent on the trap, it will avoid the trap, which will make it ineffective.

Step 1 - Remove Food Sources

You want the squirrel to enter the live trap with the help of bait. Because of this, competing food sources need to be removed. Keep your trash sealed in trash bags and stored in trash bins with a lid to keep it closed. Any pet food or bowls of water should be placed inside as soon as possible as well. Clean bird feeders to make sure there isn't excess bird seed scattered around.

Step 2 - Place the Trap

By now, you should have taken note of areas with high squirrel activity. These areas are where you will put your trap. Be sure to place your trap on an even surface. A squirrel might push or knock over the trap in order to reach the bait inside. Place a brick or weight on top of the trap to avoid this.

Step 3 - Bait and Set the Trap

Using the proper bait will increase your chances of catching a squirrel. These animals prefer foods like peanut butter, nuts, or fruits such as apples. The bait should be placed near the back of the trap. This ensures that the squirrel will need to step on the trigger plate in order to reach the food.

You will then set your trap by pushing on the door lock and lifting the door plate. Keep the door plate lifted while pulling the trigger arm forward to set it. You will know it is set when the trigger arm's hook catches the door.

Step 4 - Monitor the Trap

You will need to check the traps twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening. This is when you will refill bait if needed. Checking the trap frequently may dissuade squirrels from approaching the trap. Do not keep an animal trapped in the cage for longer than 24 hours.

Step 5 - Relocate the Squirrel

Any non-target animals should be released immediately. Once you have captured a squirrel in your live trap, check your local authorities to make sure you are correctly relocating the animal. Approaching the trap slowly and use a gentle voice. Place a towel over the cage to avoid frightening the squirrel. Once you have relocated far enough, carefully open the trap and release the animal. You can read more about releasing an animal from a live trap here.


After using your live trap, you want to make sure that wild animals do not invade your property again. You can take some preventative measures to keep your area free of squirrels. 


Keeping trash out is an open invitation for a squirrel. Be sure to place all waste in a trash can, preferably with a lid so it can be kept closed. Remove all clutter and debris from your property, since squirrels may be drawn to use these materials for nests. Any potential food sources, especially bird seed, should be properly stored.


To avoid squirrels from entering your home, be sure to check the foundation for cracks and crevices. These can be sealed with Stuf-Fit Copper Mesh and caulk. Stuf-Fit is a breathable material that many animals cannot chew through. It will not rust and can be stuffed into cracks and crevices before sealing with caulk. Repair any voids or openings around the home or structure, such as damaged roof shingles.

Key Takeaways

  • Squirrels are active during the daytime. They have bushy tails and are excellent climbers. Squirrels nest in trees, but they may enter your attic looking for shelter. They can become dangerous by chewing through wiring or gnawing on foundation structures.
  • Bait the live trap with peanut butter or cereal, making sure it is placed behind the trigger plate of the trap.
  • Check the trap once in the morning and once in the evening. Once a squirrel is caught, check with your local authorities to make sure you safely and correctly release it.
  • Prevent squirrels from entering your property again by removing any potential food sources and trash, as well as sealing any cracks and crevices with Stuf-Fit Copper Mesh and caulk.

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