How to kill squirrels with rat traps

Updated February 21, 2017

There are several species of squirrels ranging from the large fox squirrel to the small red squirrel. The larger squirrels will raid bird feeders and move into attics. The small squirrels often nest under car bonnets, filling the engine compartments with seeds and litter and chewing the electrical wiring, causing great damage. They also dig into walls and damage insulation. Squirrels can be live trapped and relocated, but they often return to the home area they were removed from and begin causing damage again. Squirrels can be caught with wooden rat traps, which eliminates the problem altogether.

Prepare the trap by drilling a 1.5 mm (1/8 inch) hole through the wooden base on the end opposite the trap bait pan. Run a 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 inch) strand of rebar wire through the hole and twist the wire closed, locking it onto the trap.

Smear a penny-size chunk of peanut butter on the trap’s bait pan and push two sunflower seeds into the top of the peanut butter. Do this before setting the trap.

Set the trap by holding the wooden base and pulling the square trap jaw back towards you until it lies flat on the base. Hold it down at one corner with your thumb. Lift the trigger bar and lay it over the jaw. Hold the very end of the trigger bar where it connects to the base and slip the opposite end under the extended side of the trap bait pan. Hold the bar in place as you gently release the jaw. The bar will hold the trap pan up and in the set position.

Place the trap where squirrels are active such as under a car, against a wall, in a shed or attic or near holes they are using to enter buildings. Tie the end of the wire off to a solid object so the trapped squirrel cannot make off with the trap. Fill a spoon with several sunflower seeds and dribble them under and around the trap pan. Be careful not to set off the trap by hitting the bait pan.

Leave the trap as it is until a squirrel is caught or the bait dries up. If a squirrel has not been caught after two days, move the trap to another location until the squirrels are caught. Replace the bait when it dries up or a squirrel is caught.


Sunflower seeds can be substituted with whatever seeds the squirrels are feeding on in the area. Place the back of the trap against a solid object so the squirrel has to approach the bait pan directly and not climb over the trap to reach the bait. If you don’t know how to set the trap, buy it at a hardware shop and ask an employee to show you how to set it.


Some species of squirrels are protected and cannot be killed. Check all local regulations before killing squirrels. Wooden rat traps are powerful and can break your fingers, set the trap carefully. Do not put your fingers or hands anywhere near the trap bait pan after the trap is set. Rat traps kill whatever they catch, so do not set them where non-target animals such as cats or protected wildlife can be caught in them. Keep traps away from areas where children are present.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden rat traps
  • Rebar wire
  • Power drill
  • Peanut butter
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Spoon


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About the Author

Dave P. Fisher is an internationally published and award-winning Western novelist and short-story writer. His work has appeared in several anthologies and his nonfiction articles in outdoor magazines. An avid outdoorsman, Fisher has more than 40 years of experience as a hunter, trapper, fisherman, taxidermist, professional fly-tyer, horsepacker and guide.