A few ground squirrels around a home garden or small row crop operation can be easily removed using wooden-based rat-sized snap traps, glue boards, or live traps. Snap traps are lethal traps, and glue boards can kill animals caught in them. If it is necessary to restrict access to traps and glue boards by nontarget animals, place the traps under inverted wooden boxes with a 2-inch (5-cm) hole cut in each end. This will, however, reduce trapping success.
Wooden-base rat-sized snap traps are readily available and are the easiest to use for most home gardeners. The biggest mistake most people make when trying to trap nuisance animals is not using enough traps. Set traps in the areas where damage is occurring, next to active burrows, or on active runways.
Peanut butter is one of the most effective baits, and it is difficult for ground squirrels to remove without springing the trap. Pieces of apple or other fruit, vegetable, or a nutmeat can also be used as bait. Securely attach these baits to the trap trigger. You can increase the attractiveness of most baits by scattering about 1/2 teaspoon of rolled oats on and around the trap. Cover the set, leaving enough room for proper operation of the trap. Check the traps every 24 hours and apply fresh bait. If more than two or three days go by without the trap being sprung, freshen your bait and move the trap to a new location. If the bait is taken without the trap being sprung, try using mouse-sized snap traps. Young ground squirrels may not be big enough to spring the rat-sized trap. A very effective trick is to securely hot-glue nutmeats to the trigger, preventing removal of the bait virtually 100 percent of the time.
Glue boards, either commercial or homemade, can be used to capture nuisance ground squirrels in residential areas. Place glue boards in areas where activity or damage is occurring. Bait them with the same type of material used to bait snap traps. Place bait in the center of the board. Once the animal becomes trapped, it can be killed and disposed of. Glue boards do not work well in dusty, dirty environments. Care should be taken when using glue boards outside because they can be attractive to children, pets, and nontarget wildlife.
Live traps are commercially available from a variety of manufacturers (see links to supplies and materials in the “Resources” section below), or they can be homemade. Use live traps with openings that are 3 to 5 inches square and 18 to 20 inches long (8 to 13 cm square and 46 to 51 cm long). The 5 x 5 x 18-inch (13 x 13 x 46 cm) chipmunk-sized trap works well.
Burrow-entrance live traps can be constructed using 0.5-inch (1.3-cm) hardware cloth (see Fig. 3 in the online resource below). The main body of the trap is formed from a 12 x 20-inch (30 x 50-cm) piece bent to form a rectangular box 3 x 3 x 20 inches (8 x 8 x 51 cm). The joining edges can be secured with hog rings. Use hog rings to secure a 3-inch (8-cm) square piece of hardware cloth to one end of the trap. The trap door is made from a piece of hardware cloth 2 3/4 x 8 inches (7 x 20 cm). Attach one end of the door to the top of the trap with hog rings. Recess the point of attachment about 1 inch (2.5 cm) to permit free movement of the door when the trap is placed in the burrow entrance. Bend the opposite end of the door so at least 2 inches (5 cm) of the door is in contact with the trap floor when the door is closed. A wire handle should be attached to the top of the trap (see Fig. 3 in the online resource below).
Before setting the trap, spend some time observing the squirrels to determine which burrows are active. Set the trap by wedging the door end firmly into the entrance of an active burrow. The closed end should be pointing into the air. Prop the trap in position with a block of wood or other suitable object. Gravity will hold the door closed until the squirrel pushes past it to leave its burrow and enters the trap. Dispose of trapped animals in accordance with local regulations.
Snares made of 8-pound (3.6-kg) test monofilament or wire fishing leader are simple and effective. Leghold traps (No. 0 longspring or coil-spring) and Conibear® traps (No. 110) can also be used. However, the effort required to set them, compared to snap traps, glue boards, and burrow-entrance live traps, makes their use questionable.
13 Lined-ground squirrels