Squirrels are cute and can be very entertaining. They can also become quite friendly and tame when generous and well-meaning humans provide them with their favorite foods. However, these prolific little rodents can also be quite destructive to the home and garden and it may become necessary at some point to remove them from the premises.
If a squirrel family finds its way into a house or other structure, the damage can be costly. They will chew through siding and under eaves to gain access to attics and crawlspaces, which are ideal and safe places for them to make their nests and raise their families. Once inside, they may continue causing damage by chewing into insulation and through electrical wiring.
Even if squirrels behave themselves and stay outside where they belong, they can still cause damage to landscaping and gardens. They can damage lawns while digging for nuts and seeds, eat seeds and small plants in the garden, and destroy bark on valuable trees and shrubbery. Because of their natural climbing abilities, it is difficult to restrict their access to bird feeders.
There are non-toxic and non-lethal ways to remove a problem squirrel, but that entails catching the offender or offenders – not as simple as it may sound for these wily and intelligent animals.
Homemade Squirrel Traps
For tree-climbing squirrels, a simple homemade squirrel trap can be made using a two foot length of stove pipe and wire mesh screen, both available at most hardware stores.
Fold the screen piece over one end of the stove pipe, making sure the screen is big enough to fold over the sides. Using duct tape, wrap the tape several times around the screen and pipe. It is important that the screen is securely attached to the pipe. A hole can then be drilled into the stove pipe, an inch or two from the open end. Hammer a nail into a tree where the squirrels are the most active and slip the drilled hole over the nail, attaching the trap to the tree. Sprinkle the squirrels’ favorite food on the screen bottom of the trap. The squirrel will enter the trap through the top and be unable to climb up the slippery sides of the pipe and escape.
Store Bought Squirrel Traps
For the less than handy person, purchasing an already manufactured trap from a retailer is another option. These can be purchased fairly inexpensively on-line but can also be found locally at stores such as ones dealing in livestock feed and supplies and some hardware stores.
Baiting the Trap
Baiting a live trap should be fairly simple. Any type of nut should attract both tree and ground squirrels. Grains, dried corn, and sunflower seeds all work well. Peanut butter on a piece of bread should be effective, as well as being easy to handle and set up in the trap.
Once a squirrel is caught, then the decision has to be made as to what to do with the culprit. Some areas are not amenable to relocating problem animals and it may even be illegal to do so. However, many people do it anyway, especially those living in rural areas. If relocation is chosen, every attempt should be made to not transfer the problem to another neighborhood.
If relocation is not possible, then the responsible individual will choose a quick and humane method with which to dispatch the squirrel.