Wildlife Education - Information, Advice, and Techniques for the Safe Removal of Squirrels from Chimneys

How to Catch Squirrels

The best way to catch squirrels is with single-catch steel cage traps, squirrel sized, or with repeater traps that use spring doors. You can also get squirrels out of buildings with spring door one-way exclusion devices. The three of these are shown below:



Read my squirrel trapping guide for more info. This website has several different articles regarding catching squirrels in many different situations, including squirrels in the attic, in the chimney, and information about squirrel prevention and squirrels damaging trees.

How To Catch Squirrels In a Cage Trap: First, you need a small cage, no more than 18 inches long, and 5 inches tall/wide. Set the trap in a good area where the squirrels go, preferably off the ground. I bolt traps onto trees, fences, and roofs of houses, as seen in the above photograph.  Use a long screwdriver and washers to fix the trap to the surface. Be sure it's secure and doesn't rattle! Be sure the trap is in the shade, or the squirrel may die of heat stroke and dehydration, very quickly. I bait the trap with peanut butter and whole peanuts in shell, but sunflower seeds or bird seed works too.

How To Catch Squirrels In The Attic: Actually, I don't use traps as described above very much. I more often deal with squirrels in attics, and I mount a special repeater trap right on the entry/exit hole, and it catches ALL the squirrels in one shot. Have a professional trapper set one of these. Or, you can set a one-way door that simply lets the squirrels go outside, and locks them out there.  You can see both of these types of traps in action in the above photo.

How To Catch A Squirrel in the House: You mean if it's running around inside? That's hard! You can wait for it to burrow into a tight corner, and it thinks it's safe, and then get a big, thick towel and smother it in the towel and wad it up and then carry it outside and let it go. Or you can open all the windows and doors and wait for it to go out on its own. You can try a trap, but it probably won't work. Or you can call a pro.

How To Catch Squirrels With Your Bare Hands: Lightning reflexes and luck!

NOTE: I have received so many requests for professional help with catching squirrels, that I have made this complete listing of hundreds of (link ->) professional squirrel removal experts who I trust, serving every city in the USA.

Below are several emails I've received from readers of this website:
Please help me. I don't know what to do!! I have been feeding a very young male squirrel for about 3 years now. He came to me when he was a tiny baby. His mother brought him to my patio to eat when she was still nursing him. I couldn't believe how tiny he was... anyway... his mother stopped coming --and then my little guy just comes every morning at 8:10 for breakfast. I did a lot of reading on the internet on what to feed him so he would grow healthy and I spend a lot of $$ to only buy organic and salt free nuts and seeds. I have just purchased a house far away on the other side of town. I am scared to death that if I just leave him here alone he would starve to death. He doesn't know how to find food as it is always available in his bowl every day. Would he adapt if I just left him here alone or should I take him with me? I have needed to catch him before, as he had mange mites earlier this spring and I took him to the vet to get treated then I let him go again so I do have a live trap and I could catch him and take him if you think that would be best. Do squirrels have families? Would I be taking him away from his family if I relocated him with me to my new home? I now realize what I have done may have ruined this little guy as now I don't know that he can care for himself. I live in South Dakota and winter here is bitter cold and I don't want to leave him here to starve to death. PLEASE HELP ME. I feel just terrible about what I have done. I would love to take him with me as I enjoy him so much, but I understand that he is a wild animal not a pet. I don't know what to do. Any advice is GREATLY appreciated!!!

Interesting case. I'm not 100% sure. I guess I'd personally trap the squirrel and bring it with me. Most wildlife advocates would probably admonish you for messing with nature and tell you to leave it where it is, but you're right, it may not fare well without your food. But I'm really not sure. It might be just fine. I think either option is okay. As for families, no, not really. - David


David,
Love your site. I learned a lot from it- I have tried all the things that do not work , Fortunately my squirrel problem is not in our house. These ravenous critters devour all the young fruit on my peach trees , i mean hundreds of peaches - I have even sprayed the peaches with Cayenne Pepper and they still eat them, They must be Mexican Squirrels because they love hot sauce. I have gone as far as filling my wife's pantie hose with my dog's hair and hanging it from my Peach trees thinking the smell would deter them - They play on it !! I invested in an Owl that turns its head and the Squirrels laugh at the Owl as they go around it. After reading your review --I invested in a haveaheart trap and I caught 7 squirrels in a week using ballpark Peanuts there are still 3 huge monsters that somehow get the peanuts and do not get caught in the trap --- The traps spring seems to be very sensitive and i think the squirrels touch it and the doors spring shut but not with them in it. My question to you is two parter --- what is the best Bait to use, i assume something they can smell , somebody told me to use peanut butter - and most importantly how far away do i take the squirrels to release them - i have been taking them to a woods about 2 miles away - but my landscaper says that I must take them at least 5 miles away or they will find there way back and that I should spray paint there tails so i know if the same ones are returning is this true ? He went as far as saying the only thing that really works is to poison them and i refuse to do this other then being a nuisance they are adorable and God's creatures and I wont harm them. In fact I am tempted to fire my landscaper. Any advice you can give is so very very welcome - We have many many large trees in our area but like so many other places in New York City there is a lot of home building going on and i believe that the squirrels are losing there natural habitat . I also have neighbors that have 6 bird feeders so maybe i am fighting a losing battle to begin with as i am sure the Bird feeders attract them to start with. My wife has even suggested that I make a deal with the squirrels and place a pail of peanuts near the trees and maybe they will leave the fruit alone.
With Kind regards, Joe

Joe - Thanks for the fun email, and for not poisoning squirrels. If you really don't want them in the area eating your peaches, you can simply become a better trapper and get better traps. Peanut butter and whole peanuts in the shell are the best bait. I would relocate ate least five miles away. It will probably be a constant battle - you can't stop squirrels from living outside. - David


Hi David, Thanks so much for your write up on squirrels. Really helped me. Actually I live in India - Chennai to be in particular where weather is 11 months hot and 12th month is hotter :). Yeah, a coastal area that is hot in daytime and very pleasant at nights. We stay in a duplex independent home, whereby mangoes/guava/coconut trees of our own are nearby the house. Basically, ideal place for Grey Squirrels.. We actually noticed a month or two back that a squirrel was trying to come to one of our first floor room/thats more of a store room now...I had a hunch that mother (looked fat) was looking to litter. I was warned that I better keep her out so she can look for some other home like place. I did that too...closed all windows I had it opened. Really was a big headache for ventilation, but this was also important. Anyways, yet, me and my husband would often wake up in the morning to see a rather shocked adult Squirrel - mostly in an awkward position - honestly like a thief caught red handed !!!!. But it was always alone. We got suspicious again...and got a guy to check the room and the house in depth as much as possible to find out about the squirrel or the litters - Nothing, not a trace! And then, suddenly 2 days back, I found the adult squirrel again... despite almost all windows closed...I cornered her and closed most of the doors except the bathroom door that had an opened window but meshed! it had found open a crack in it and boldly it went....I was thinking of taping that one too and while deciding to buy a cello tape for that...Behold! I found a baby young "Squeeky!" I almost didn't see it...It is tiny...but has its zebra stripes and walks, curls up the tail for warmth and can See too.... I had no idea what to do, it was too close to the laterine and I was scared it would fall...I almost impulsively grabbed it and cuddled her and even fed some milk out of concern. I DO know that was a mistake a big big one...I won't feed her milk for sure, but I am worried if the mother would take her. I am told she won't...while most websites call it a myth- Amen! Now I don't understand a few things...where was this all this while...I still can't figure out if this is the only one or more are waiting...I feel some hustle bustle very very faint in a box up there...I don't know if I am imagining...and I don't know how it came down...maybe it fell... This is the story of Squeaky so far... Now in India there is no law or at least not for squirrels...hehe I am so scared that it will die... I am also not sure about food Espilac? and rehydrate med...do you have any substitute? I mean in this weather, would you need it to be rehydrated or warmed up? Also how old do you think, the baby is? While I am excited to see Squeaky, my instant worry is to hope and pray it joins its mom or else just survives...seems like not an easy call.... Tips to toe...please yhelp! Suj

Suj - I have to admit, I personally do not know anything about raising baby squirrels. Also, I don't know how old that squirrel might be. I'm sorry that I'm not of much help. - David


Hi David, nice article on the internet, it is one of the most descriptive I could find on the web :) The reason I decided to contact you and ask for a help because after I called local humane society and wild animal control division, they told me that they are not willing to help with my issue and I should contact “professionals.” However, after I called several advertised wild animal control companies, they did not sound as experienced as you are, and they wanted HUGE money, which I can’t afford at this moment, without any guaranties of success. Here is my story: Several months ago, I heard some scratching noise outside of my house, and discovered that the RED squirrel is chewing the area where the steel gutter and wood are attached together (I just repainted that area last summer, and now I have a damage, bummer), however this attempt to get inside was unsuccessful, the squirrel never get all the way through the wood. So I disregarded this incident until I started to hear noise coming from the attic and constantly see the same red squirrel jumping on the roof (quite distance) from surrounding trees and bushes. This squirrel is very territorial and all grey squirrels leaving in this area before her invasion all suddenly disappeared L To make the story short, every night, I can hear her (them) chewing the wood mostly in the same area. Following directions from internet (unfortunately not from your site), I purchased a trap with two doors, and instaledl it in the area outside of my house where I see that squirrel the most often. For two days the squirrel was able to eat all peanut butter, nuts etc. and not get cut, however, this morning I found her trapped in it. To my surprise, after I finished reading your article to find out what to do next, I realized that the squirrel is no longer trapped—both doors were securely closed, and I have no clue how did she get out. Anyway, now, after I read YOUR article and realized extend of the issue I am facing, I had no choice but to get into the attic (the whole house has cathedral ceilings and the area is very small and hard to move) and start the hunt. Here are results of my trip to the attic: I found 3 out of 6 screens on the vents have huge holes in them, and looks like they were done by the squirrel not by the normal aging of the material. I found one circular hole about 4 inches in diameter on the lower part of the attic where it is connected to the ceiling, but there is no open area behind that hole, so I do not understand the reason why to spend so much time to chew this hole going to nowhere(unless it was designed as a nest first). And most importantly, I discovered another huge hole chewed through the wall's plywood all the way on the top of the attic. While investigating this particular hole, I heard her (them) running inside the wall and screaming in fear. However, that particular wall is approximately 30 feet high and 50 feet wide, so I was not able to locate exact place where the noise is coming from, nor I was able to see IF there are little ones, or just one red squirrel going nuts. (if there are babies, why I do not see them running around considering time of the year, and the amount of time that squirrel is residing in my attic). Anyway, now I know the location of the nest, I know likely method of house access through the vents, but I have no idea if I am dealing with one squirrel or the whole family (my wife just told me that when she saw squirrel on the tree, her nipples were very visible and swollen). Should I wait for the little babies (if there are any) to grow?? Are the babies already grown, but still leaving in the attic?? Should I start cutting plywood and try to find exact location and manually deal with the relocation issue?? Should I try to trap the mom, seal all access points and HOPE there are no babies suffering and dying?? Please help, if you can with advice or maybe you know any real professionals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin area who actually know how to deal with my issue.(most of ones that I called advised me with using smell, poison or live traps, that you think are NOT effective solutions) Thanks a lot in advance for any help, and looking forward hearing from you soon. PS Sorry for grammatical mistakes. Sincerely, Vladimir

Vladmir - Sounds like a typical squirrel case. There shouldn't be any young in June. I'd just try to trap the squirrel again, relocate it 5 miles away, and seal all the entry points shut with steel flashing. If you can't trap the animal, try a one-way door. But she will just chew next year. So your best bet is to work hard to trap her, and try a different trap if you must. - David


Hi David, Thanks for your website about the humane removal of squirrels in the attic. Just today I realized (witnessed) that I have a squirrel in my attic. Here is the back story. I've been feeding the birds in my yard for years. Over time, after the squirrels were eating so much of the food, I started deliberately feeding the squirrels. I find them cute and entertaining and they've never caused any significant damage to my home or yard before. Over a month ago, I noticed I had a mama squirrel coming to my feeders and eating the peanuts I put out for them. She became used to me enough that she'd stay very close by when I'd bring food out--almost as if she were waiting for me. Just recently, it seems she now has two slightly smaller squirrels (who are very playful) hanging around with her. I even took video of all three of them rolling around and tackling each other the other day. It even looked like the mama was grooming them at various points. So now that puts us to today. I have a walk-in attic off my second floor landing. I was scared silly around 7:30 a.m. with noises that sounded like someone trying to open my attic door (or bumping against it). After a couple minutes (and me running around with my pepper spray and throwing open all the doors in my house so people would hear me scream if my burglar attacked me), the noise sounded like it was actually on my roof and I figured I had just heard wrong--I had squirrels just running around on the roof. Then about an hour ago at 7 p.m., I heard the noise again. This time, it was definitely someone jiggling the door of my attic from the inside! Gathering my courage, I peeked around and looked up the stairs and I started to hear loud scratching/gnawing on the door. I walked up the stairs and saw a squirrel eyeball staring at me from under the door. She/he had one paw under the door holding onto it from the outside while she chewed the inside bottom edge of the door (hollow-core). I said loudly, "What are you doing, little one?" and she pulled her arm back in but didn't run away. Since I often talk to my squirrels, I'm sure it's one that has been coexisting with me and wasn't scared by my voice. When I pretended to open the door, she must have run out or hid. Okay, so here's my bottom line. I can't tell where she is getting in. I never had a problem with squirrels in my attic back when I had a cat (he died this past October, so this is the first spring without him). Do you think it would work to borrow a friend's cat or dog to live with me for a few days to scare the squirrel off if I know the mama doesn't have helpless infants anymore? I don't want to hurt the squirrels. They have become like little friends. But I also can't have them in my home. ( Jeepers! I just heard the scratching again on the door. She is really going to town trying to get into the house from the attic!) My neighbors have a havahart trap, but I don't know what I would do if I trapped the squirrel. Drive it somewhere miles away? I don't know what I think of that idea. That's why I was thinking of borrowing a friend's pet to spread its scent around and possibly run the squirrel off. What do you think? Please feel free to call me if that's easier than emailing. I could call you right back if long distance fees or minutes are an issue. I'm in Virginia Beach, VA. Thank you in advance for any advice you can give. I'm going to go upstairs and try to see if I can chase the squirrel out to see how she leaves. With gratitude, Cindy

Baby squirrels are no longer in attics at this time of year. It is safe to either trap or use a one-way exclusion door, if you know the entry point. If not, sit outside your house until you see it go in. A cat or other pet won't help. If you do use the Havahart trap, bait it with peanut butter and peanuts, and relocate it at least 5 miles away. But you must find and seal the entry hole, or you'll have the same problem again later. - David


Hello David, You've probably received thousands of emails with the subject line "squirrels in my attic" or some variation. I guess I'll be 100,001. Great site! Lot's of info, humane and very cool. I'm writing from St. Paul, Minnesota. Two and a half years ago I moved in to a house that is still owned by my in-laws who have used the place as storage and the attic has been undisturbed for maybe a good 10 years. It's jam-packed with desks and pieces of furniture, construction projects, plastic storage tubs and layers of dust that might have fossilized by now. Before today I'd never gone up into the crawl space attic - it's accessed by a removable panel in the ceiling and given the state of neglect of the rest of the place I knew it would be a massive chore. While working out in the yard I've noticed the squirrel door (see pictures). There were at least 4 squirrels coming in and out or maybe 2 squirrels coming in and out many times... I'm not sure, truthfully. I remember hearing squirrel tumbling competitions in February so I'm guessing they're mature squirrels and I'm not disturbing a too young litter. You said the squirrels are out and about during the day. If I put a one way trap on the door won't that just block them from coming inside? In order to assure capture should I attach the trap at night? I guess I wouldn't mind it if they still lived in the area but I'm a little wary that by not relocating the squirrels who know what a great attic I have would just tempt them to do it again. Is that an issue? So I've put a radio in the attic and turned on a light. I guess the next step is to patch the hole but I want the critters gone first. Does time of day matter for trapping? Um - Will the squirrels attack me to defend their home? Will they bite? Besides falling off ladders, what other safety issue should I consider? I noticed some hefty gloves in one of your pictures - I'm guessing they'll scratch at the very least? Any other advice? How will I know if there are out of season babies around? Thank you for your help, Sincerely, Clarissa

Clarissa - There should be no babies at this time of year. Yes, if you set a one-way trap and they're outside, they won't get caught - that's the whole point of a one-way door, to get them out of the attic without the need to trap and relocate. If you want them away from your property, then you will have to trap them. The most important thing is to seal up the entry points once they are out. - David


Please be kind to squirrels! They are intelligent animals, and believe it or not, they definitely have emotions!
If you have any questions about squirrels in attics, just email me at david@squirrel-attic.com