The best form of squirrel control is prevention!
Proper sanitation and property maintenance will prevent most problems. Most
urban squirrels owe their existence to humans. We supply both food, and shelter without thinking. A house is just another funny looking tree to the squirrel. Why should the squirrel spend days cutting and hauling twigs up a tree to build a nest, when there is a
perfectly good attic to sleep in. Its warm, out of the weather, and they don't have to worry about predators coming in. Just add a few leaves, a bit of fluff, and call it home.
Now what's for dinner? A dish of pet food left unattended, an open garbage can, or a full
bird feeder is a free meal to a hungry squirrel. Their common sense says "this sure
beats foraging" and it's a lot easier. Wow...these humans are really great!
If you read this far, then you probably have some of these problems already. So, remove
the food supply. If it is a bird feeder, move it twenty or more feet from the house. Close
or cover garbage cans, and if possible make them inaccessible. If you have a barbecue near
the house, keep it clean and covered. Squirrels have been know to eat the drippings and
sometimes build a nest if they can get inside. It doesn't take very long, sometimes just
Maybe the squirrels are digging in your garden, or flower pots. While you can't stop a
squirrel from digging, you can discourage it. Use hardware cloth, a heavy metal screening
with a half inch square grid, to place in the flower pot. Cut it to fit around the stem of
the plant, and extend it to the edges of the pot. Place it just below the soil. Put
some small rocks near the edge to hold it in place. This same approach can be used in a
If the squirrels are eating your fruit as it ripens, about the only way to stop them is to
cage the entire plant. Most times this is not practical, and allowing them to have a
little may be a small price to pay. I know they can be wasteful, try to accept it as food
Other devices, such as high frequency sound emitters and animal scents may be effective
for a short period of time. Once the squirrel gets use to them, and they will. They become
ineffective, and you're out a lot of money.
The use of "Squirrel Away" or "Hot Pepper Spray" are also ineffective
as deterrents. They can actually do harm to both squirrels, and other animals, especially
when these products get into their eyes. Then how do you deal with a blind squirrel?
The use of "moth balls" as a deterrent does work. But again, only temporarily. A
determined squirrel will get used to the smell, or simply push the "smelly
stuff" out of its way. So if you do try this method, wrap them in a piece of metal
screening to form a bag. Then tie the bag to a solid object, make it as difficult as
possible for the squirrel to move. You will have to replace the contents every few
days for it to be truly effective.
Another problem area can be exposed wires or rubber hose's. Most common are those on gas
grills, and stored motor vehicles. But,
low voltage lighting can be a tempting target for squirrels. What the most squirrels are
trying to do, is clean and sharpen their teeth. They do this by biting through some
material, (normally wood) then they pull their head back so the fibers slide between the
teeth. I guess you could call it the squirrel version of dental floss. Most squirrels
stick with small tree branches, but some have found the plastic coated wire or rubber hose
does a much better job. The only way to stop this problem is to trap
and relocate the offending squirrel. Once the squirrel is removed, the problem
Once a squirrel has chewed its way into an attic or crawl space, again the only practical
way to remove it is by trapping (see section below). Of course repairs
should be made immediately to close the entrance hole. It is also important to cut off the
access route to the attic or crawl space. This may require trimming tree branches that
overhang the roof. Remove firewood that may be stacked against the building. Fill cracks
in foundation walls. Even a one inch hole or crack can make a suitable entrance hole for a
determined squirrel. When patching wood, use metal plates or flashing where ever possible.
On foundations walls use concrete. Avoid plastic or PVC vents when ever possible.
If your only alternative is to trap, and remove an unwanted squirrel, you should first check with your local government agency. Your City, County, or State may require you to obtain a permit. There may be certain circumstances when a professional trapper is needed to capture and relocate the animal. A phone call can save you a lot of trouble.
The other very important part of trapping concerns the time of year. The female squirrel will give birth to a litter of three or four, in the early spring and possibly again in the fall. If you trap and relocate the mother squirrel, you will surely kill her babies since they can not leave the nest on their own. While this alone would be heart breaking, consider what will become of those baby squirrels. They can cause quite a smell. Please give this some careful thought before you proceed. If you're not sure, please ask for help. That's what we're here for.
If you are allowed to trap, your next step will be to find a suitable trap. Most large sporting goods stores will have a selection of live animal traps to choose from. Live traps sell for about $30, for a small "five by five by eighteen inch Havahart Trap and can go up to $90 for larger sizes. Tomahawk Live trap also carries a complete line of traps and supplies.
You can also rent traps from some Rental Service Stores. One store in Minnesota rents the small Havahart 1025 trap for $15 per day.
Be sure to find one that is the proper size for the squirrel you wish to trap. Too small of a trap may not completely enclose the squirrel and one too large may not be sensitive enough for a one pound squirrel.
Traps should come with instructions to bait and set them, be sure you under- stand and follow the directions. Peanut butter (Skippy crunchy) is considered the best bait for a squirrel. Placing a spoonful on the trip lever usually does the trick.
Your first step is to do a little detective work. Find the path that the squirrel is using to your attic, crawl space or where ever it should not be. To find this path, you must first observe your squirrel's routine. Normally, a squirrel will leave the nest at dawn or shortly after in search of food. This would be the best time to watch and wait. Find a place where you can view your house and the entrance hole. Be very still, and watch how it gets to or from the house. E.g. climbing, jumping or both. Once you discover this path, you should place the trap accordingly. Always set the trap on a stable surface, such as the ground, on a porch or deck. Never hang the trap!
If you have the time, leave the trap opened and without bait for several days, so the squirrel will accept it as part of the landscape. You should also consider what if any other animals might be in the area of the trap. Since a cat, dog, or even a bird may be tempted into your trap.
You must be able to see or hear the trap operate, so it would be best to set it only when you have the time to watch or listen for it to operate. Once a squirrel is trapped it must be removed as quickly as possible to prevent stress to the animal. Be sure you are wearing heavy work gloves while handling the trap. Be prepared to listen to a lot of complaining. This squirrel is going to voice its displeasure non-stop!
You must relocate the squirrel at least a three miles from your location, even further if you are in a heavily wooded area. An ideal location would have a natural barrier, such as a river or lake. If you're moving the squirrel within an urban area, try to place it across several highways or other busy streets. You should give some thought to where you are going to relocate the squirrel before capture. A place where it can find food, water and shelter would be in your best interest. Don't give this squirrel a reason to return!
It may be necessary to repeat this process if more than one squirrel is involved. Please remember that if there are babies in the nest, they can "not" be trapped and must be removed by hand.
Then be sure to correct the problem that led to the squirrel moving in, as quickly as possible. Be sure to wash the entrance area, with a strong solution of ammonia and water, or a household cleaner to remove any scent the squirrel's may have left.
If you have problems, concerns, or questions about live trapping. Many local government agencies have people that are knowledgeable in this area and may be able to offer you additional advice.
If you do not have the time or are not sure you can accomplish this task. There are professional animal or pest control companies that can remove squirrels for you. If you consider the time and effort involved, it may be best to contact a local company for an estimate. Generally, you can expect to pay between one and two hundred dollars for this service.
If you live in the Minneapolis area, "Trapper Jim" The Critter Gitter. . . is one of the best in the State, at removing squirrels. Call him at. . . 651-456-9495
If you've in the Orlando area, call David at... 407-538-1694 He can help you, with all your squirrel issues.