How to trap grey squirrels

The History

The American Grey Squirrel was introduced to Great Britain in the late 1800’s and spread rapidly from there on. The 11th duke of Bedford was said to of aided their spread throughout Great Britain with there release from Woburn Park.

American Grey squirrels can be clearly identified by their distinct grey coloration and lack of ear tufts unlike their red cousins. The american grey squirrel is approximately 24-29cm in length with an overall weight of 400-650 grams and live on average up to 5 years.

It is believed the average population of American Grey Squirrels throughout the United Kingdom is 2.7 million.


The War on Greys

The ongoing war between conservationists and the American grey squirrel was prompted by the deadly Parapox Virus they carry. The parapox virus is a virus effecting both red and grey squirrels, however The American Grey squirrel shows no sign of detrimental effect and in turn acts as a carrier for the virus.

The parapox virus effects red squirrels, developing skin lesions, scabs and ulcers that effect the red squirrels eyesight, ability to swallow and finally ability their breathe. Almost all red squirrels who contract the parapox virus will die, normally a very slow and painful death.

In addition to the devastating effects the Grey squirrel has had upon Britain’s native Red squirrels, it also contributes to over £14 million pounds worth of damage to the forestry and Agricultural industry via tree bark stripping.


Trapping American Grey Squirrels

When deciding to Trap Grey squirrels you have two options available, these are Live catch Traps or Spring Traps.

The main differences between Live catch Traps and Spring Traps can be clearly understood from the title:

A live catch trap will only catch a targeted species alive, without any injury or harm.

A spring trap will normally dispatch the targeted species via means of a high powered spring being activated to sever or crush the spine and/or cranium.

When choosing your method of capture, you must first decide on what the positives and benefits of using each are.

The Positives

Live catch Traps

  1. You are able to release any non target species unharmed, particular attention should be drawn to this when trapping in Red squirrel areas.
  2. You are able to catch more than 1 squirrel per activation, especially when using Multi Catch Traps.
  3. You are able to offer more of a visible bait attractant.
  4. Squirrels are able to watch activity of bird feeding, squirrel entry without any cause for concern, increasing catch rates.

Spring Traps

  1. Quick to set
  2. Lightweight
  3. Do not require the same level of monitoring as live traps, especially during acclimate weather where water can be a huge factor for animal welfare when live trapping
  4. Provide a quick humane dispatch on entry

The Negatives

Live catch Traps

  1. Require consistent monitoring for animal welfare at a minimum of every 24 hours
  2. Heavier than many spring traps on the market
  3. Bulky and cumbersome to carry in large quantities

Spring Traps

  1. Unlike live catch traps, there is no way to release non target species unharmed! As a inanimate object traps do not have the capability of thinking for themselves and will do what they are designed to do, regardless whether the target species or non target species enters!
  2.  They can be non user friendly to new or inexperienced trappers as a mistake when setting and operating spring traps has the capability to cause the user serious damage
  3. Although any welfare conscious trapper will try to ensure a clean kill every time, accidents can and do happen and there is always a possibility of maiming rather than dispatching the target species
  4. Spring traps are a single fire mechanism, meaning you are limited to only 1 catch or firing per user reset


Setting a live catch Trap

Picture of Multi-catch Compact Squirrel Trap by Katch-it
Picture of Multi-catch Compact Squirrel Trap by Katch-it

When setting a live catch trap, you have two options to consider. A gravity operated door or treadle plate mechanism.

The easiest and safest trap is a gravity operated system as seen in our multi catch traps, where the trapper requires no experience or knowledge to set a trap and simply has to bait it with a suitable bait such as whole maize, peanuts or monkey nuts.

The second option is to use a treadle plate mechanism as seen in our single catch squirrel trap, where a floor plate is operated by the target species to allow a door to close behind it.

For arguments sake we are going to take the multi-catch trap as an example.

Choosing the right spot

When looking for a suitable spot for your live catch trap, first a bit of reconnaissance is required. The inexperienced trapper should be looking for areas where squirrel damage or activity is easily spotted or identifiable such as tree bark stripping or where de-shelled nuts and grains can be seen on the floor.

When you have chosen your spot,clear a small area of dirt from leaf debris and organic material, the size of your trap and place your trap on top of the clearing, upside down! (THIS WILL MAKE SENSE SOON)

Use a set of trapping pegs to secure your trap to the floor.

Place a generous handful of bait at the rear of the trap and 1/4 of a handful throughout the entirety of the trap all the way to the doors entrance.

Leave this trap unset for 24 hours and recheck the bait.

Should the bait be taken, repeat this step for 2-5 days until heavy feeding is occuring.

The reasoning for pre-baiting is to build confidence in a squirrel population to enter the trap without fear, thus in the long run meaning higher numbers of squirrels can be caught over a shorter time scale. This step requires patience, however will pay off!

After your pre-baiting stage, remove your anchor pegs and turn the trap the right way up.

Secure the trap with your anchor pegs and check the smooth operation of each door.

Replace bait, but this time emit the 1/4 handful of bait as previously used.

Check within 24 hours of leaving the baited trap and dispatch any target species inside the trap by either cranial dispatch using a hessian sack or single shot to the head with an airgun.

Should more than 1 squirrel be present in the trap, a trapping comb divider can be used to create barriers for easier dispatch.

trapping comb
A Trapping Comb for a live catch trap made by Katch-it


Bait Selection

When baiting live catch traps, you have a wide array of baits at your disposal, The American Grey squirrel will eat any grain.

Our favourites are a mixture of Whole Maize and Peanuts with a spray of our secret Attraktor bait enhancer to create a high visual, pungent attractant as Grey squirrels rely on their eyesight as much as their noses.

Happy trapping and remember stay safe!

Katch-It Traps Team

The UK’s Premier Trapping Supplier


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: