How to Catch a Ground Squirrel

ground squirrel
What You'll Need
No-kill squirrel traps, available at sporting goods, outdoor and hardware stores
Bait of your choice. Things like apples, sunflower seeds, peanuts, cereal, grains, peanut butter and jelly, and dog food work well
Permit or license to trap or capture squirrels if required in your area
Gas stick, electrocution pad, poison or other kill option if you chose to destroy rather than capture the squirrel
Anti-coagulant bait (chlorophacinone or diphacinone)
Permit or license to trap or kill squirrels if required in your area

Catching a ground squirrel is a labor and time intensive process, requiring patience and good traps. Killing squirrels to be rid of them is another option with its own pros and cons.

How to Catch Ground Squirrels

Step 1 - Determine Where Your Squirrels Live

Unlike their tree dwelling cousins, ground squirrels live in burrows in the ground, among rocks or in brush. Look for burrows, holes around foundations in concrete slabs, and around rocks.

Step 2 - Bait Your Traps


Use a small dish or plate to bait your trap. Set your bait on the plate and place it at the end of the trap where the animal will have to cross the trip plate to get to the food. Set the trap spring (as detailed in the trap's instructions).

Step 3 - Set Your Trap Out

Set the trap near any burrows, holes, or apparent tunnels squirrels are using. Check it at least once every 24 hours. When the squirrel crosses the trip plate to get to the food it will release the trap's door, which will slam shut, trapping the animal inside. You may hear a yowling, chattering, or noise as the animal tries to escape. They are not harmed, just angry.

Step 4 - Release Your Animal

Once live trapped, your animal will need to be transported at least five miles away if you don't want them returning. It is illegal in some states to release ground squirrels on someone else's property. Where it is legal, transport and release your squirrel.

How to Kill Ground Squirrels

Step 1 - Determine What Method to Use

There are several methods you can use to kill your squirrels. The most popular and effective kill methods are poisons, particularly anticoagulant baits (chlorophacinone or diphacinone). Other methods, such as gas sticks, electrocution pads, and kill traps are also options. Check with your local hardware store for particulars on each method. You can also purchase traps which kill the squirrel on contact.

Step 2 - Set Out Your Bait Station

Grain baits can't be broadcast or spread out on fields. You must use bait stations. Place your bait in the station and set out the stations around your yard or field, using a spacing of no more than 100 feet between stations. Squirrels hibernate and will not feed early in the season. Don't set out your bait until after the month of May. Baits must remain out at least five to eight days, since squirrels must feed on the grain for at least five days for the bait to be effective. Squirrels will return to their burrows and eventually die.