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Do traps work? Yes. But it has to be the right type of trap, and it has to be used in the right way. There are dozens of types of squirrel traps, including some live traps and some lethal traps. I’ll quickly discuss the various types of traps, but before I do, I must point out the single most important thing to keep in mind regarding squirrels in the attic, and the reason a squirrel in the attic is not such a simple matter.

Single Animal Live Cage Trap: This is, by far, the most common type of trap used by NYC wildlife control companies and do-it-yourself homeowners. There are many different makes and models of cage traps. Cage traps are generally metal cages into which the squirrel enters, lured in by food. Near the back of the cage is a trip pan. When the squirrel steps on the pan, it triggers the trap door shut and the animal is trapped inside, alive. Some of these traps are made from different materials, such as solid-walled plastic or other materials. Most are made from steel bars. A cage trap needs to be large enough to hold the squirrel and most squirrel-size cage traps are at least 16 inches long and 5 inches high and wide. If it’s too small, the animal won’t fit inside or may trigger the trip pan but not allow clearance for the door to shut all the way. If it’s too large, the squirrel may run around and smash itself against the cage walls and hurt itself. The most commonly sold brand in the United States is the Havahart brand, which is sometimes sold in large hardware stores. The fact that it’s readily sold to the public often leads people to believe that they can just go out and trap animals. However, there are many very important considerations when squirrel trapping that one should consider before just buying a trap and setting it.

Racoon Capture

James with Raccoon

Repeating Live Cage Trap: A great trapping option used by professionals. Mount this trap on the hole that the squirrels are using to enter and exit the house. If all alternative routes of escape are sealed off, the squirrels have no choice but to enter this trap on their way outside to get food and water. This trap has a one-way door that allows the squirrels into the trap, but not back out. These traps can hold many squirrels (I’ve caught up to six at once).

One-Way Exclusion Door: Even better than the repeater, in my opinion. This may be the best method for removing squirrels from attics. The one-way squirrel door is like the repeater trap, but it is simply open on the end. The squirrels are able to leave the attic, and push their way through the spring loaded one-way door, but then they can’t get back in. They are all blocked outside, and the problem is solved! The only drawback is if the home has much wood or is in a bad state of disrepair. In such a case, the squirrels will simply chew their way back in elsewhere, or do a lot of damage chewing all over the place. If this is a concern or if you don’t want the animals acclimated to your attic on your property anymore, then cage trapping and relocation is the better option. The below photo is of a similar device, a one-way funnel. Squirrels slip out through them like butter, but they have to be the correct size to work properly.

1) How Do I Target The Correct Animal? One problem amateurs encounter is that they set a trap and catch non-target animals instead of the animal that is causing the problem. This isn’t often the case with squirrels, however, as they are often territorial. Still, the best way to get the squirrels you want is to set the traps on the roof, near the entry points. Traps set in the attic will not catch the squirrels. They do not enter traps in attics, ever, for whatever reason. Of course, setting a repeater trap on the exit hole ensures complete capture of the target squirrels.

2) What if I Can’t Catch it at All? Failure to catch the animal commonly arises amongst people who don’t know much about trapping. So many important and subtle nuances go into successful trapping. The right type of traps must be set, they must have no defects, and they must have the correct pan tension. It must be flush with the roof or bolted to fascia boards with no wobble. It must be set in the animal’s path of travel or exploration. If it’s a repeater trap, there must be no other alternative areas of exit, the spring must be the right tension with no blockage, etc.

3) What Type of Bait Should I Use? This factor isn’t nearly as important as other factors in terms of success. Squirrels are gluttons, and they are curious. They are easy to trap. The best bait is peanut butter smeared on the pan, and whole peanuts, in the shell, on the pan, behind the pan, and leading into the trap. If the squirrel is dehydrated, oranges make a great squirrel bait, because they want the water in the fruit.

4) What Types Of Accidents Can Occur With Trapping? With squirrel trapping, this isn’t much of a concern. But if you are working on the roof, which is pretty much the only way to go for successful squirrel trapping, then there are ladder and roof safety concerns. I would never advocate an inexperienced person to work on a roof or with ladders.

All of Predator Pest Control nuisance wildlife operators are licensed by the New York State Department Of Environmental Conservation. All of our technicians are licensed to remove, trap and transport nuisance wildlife. Our nuisance wildlife operators are all very experienced in trapping squirrels, raccoons, fox, rabbit, opossums, snakes and any other wildlife that may be doing harm to you or being destructive to your property. Please feel free to contact our wildlife control office for a free inspection and or estimate.

Wildlife Trapping A Raccoon