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Who hasn't ever wanted to rid their apartment of pesky squirrels? They come in when you are gone, drink your beer, eat your peanut butter, and piss on your microwave. All they do is eat and run. This tutorial will show you how to catch your fuzzy-tailed foe using a cheap trap.

What You Need for the Adventure

First, you need some patience. Don't plan on catching a squirrel the first day. They are strong, smart, easily spooked, and quick. They do, however have short memories, so they will come back time and time again even if nearly caught. To lure the critter in, you'll need some bait. My furry friend had a weakness for wheat bread and peanut butter. I would suspect nuts of any kind or any candy would work also. To actually catch the squirrel, you're going to need a trap. If you think that a big rat trap will do the job, THINK AGAIN. Squirrels are too strong for these traps and can easily get out to torment you another day. My squirrel got out of one of these traps two different times. I personally use a "00" size leg-hold trap bought at a local sporting goods/hunting/trapping supply store.

Outsmarting Your Friend

This is the tough part. I went back and forth with my squirrel for almost a month before I caught him. They are much smarter than you think.

I first used bread on a regular rat trap. This was way too easy for the little guy. He simply took the bread off the trap without tripping it, even though the trigger was set VERY lightly.

Next, I tried putting peanut butter and bread mixed together on the rat trap so the squirrel would have to "work" for his food, hopefully setting off the trap and ending his life in the process. Well the trap went off, but he was big/strong/fast enough to escape. As stated earlier, squirrels are smart but have a short memory. He came back the next day to try again. He escaped from the regular rat trap on two different occasions.

I knew I had to go for bigger and better weaponry, so I bought a "00" size leg-hold trap from a local trapping supplier. Yes, this is the typical "bear-trap" style trap you often see on TV, but on a much smaller scale.

These leg-hold style traps are meant to be stepped on by the animal, not eaten off of. Therefore the trigger requires too much pressure for a squirrel eating to set it off. Using a fine file or emery board, polish the trigger mechanism and coat with a thin oil. This will help the action work a little better and make the trigger a lot more sensitive.


The setup that worked for me was putting a spoonful of peanut butter on the trigger pan and then putting a piece of bread into the peanut butter so the squirrel will have to "work" for his lunch, hopefully springing the trap while doing so. Again, be patient...I tried for almost a month before I finally caught mine. Think like a squirrel and eventually you'll catch one.

Alternate Method

I had a similar problem in an older house in the suburbs. What worked for me was a small cage trap, similar to number 1025 on the Havahart.com Cage Trap guide. On the two occasions I have had to use such a trap, both pests were caught within 48 hours - as soon as the animals in question found the trap. These traps are generally available for free or a small rental fee from local animal control officers. Basically it is a rectangular box cage (20x5x5) made of a strong wire mesh, with a swinging panel on each end of the box, and a rocker plate in the middle. When the animal moves over the rocker plate both end panels snap closed and lock into place.

The nice thing about this trap is that it provides you a means of safely removing the critter in question from your premises to another location without you coming into contact with the animal. Once it's trapped, it is inside a mesh cage after all - most of which have nice little handles on the top. Also, no blood, though you may want to lay down some newspaper under the trap as both the small possum and large squirrel I trapped with this device seemed to have had bladder problems. Of course if I were calmly licking a banana with peanut butter and suddenly two doors sprang shut on me with a clang I might have a slight bladder control problem too.