Trapping Squirrels

Squirrels are common and a relatively easily trapped mammal.

Almost no matter where you are in a survival situation, you probably have access to small game of some type. Squirrels are among the most common and widely distributed species of mammals in the world. They are members of a family of rodents that includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots (including woodchucks), flying squirrels, and prairie dogs amongst other rodents. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa, and were introduced by humans to Australia.
Squirrels can be caught several different ways.

Squirrel Pole

You have probably seen the “squirrel pole” many times since it is featured in so many survival manuals. Below is an illustration from the “US Army Survival Manual.”

Squirrels are used to pushing their way through tight cover so this pole snare set will not put them off.

You can see from the above image that there is nothing complicated about this setup. Snare wire is typically 20-gauge in either brass or stainless steel. The legality of using snares, the material used and the gauge of snare wire required varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If you intend to try snaring methods out, check your local requirements.

Rat Traps for Squirrels

It is also a simple matter to catch squirrels in a rat trap, particularly the smaller red squirrels. Find a location with a population of squirrels. Nail the rat trap to the trunk of a tree, high enough that it cannot be reached by dogs. Smear peanut butter onto the bait trigger. Use multiple traps.

For the larger varieties of squirrel, like the grey, some modifications may be necessary. Take a look at the image below. You can see the common mouse trap, made by Victor, and the less frequently seen rat trap.

The rat trap is obvious by it’s larger size. Notice the enhancements possible to improve it’s killing power.

Notice the two brace ends of the trap springs? One way to increase the power of the trap is to pry these ends up and wedge something underneath them, thereby tightening the coil. This imparts additional power to the kill bar when it snaps shut.

Additionally, a small piece of wood or a wooden dowel can be screwed to the trap at the indicated spot in the image. This helps ensure a killing blow by helping the kill bar deliver greater trauma to the neck.

Rat traps are discussed in greater detail in the Kindle book “More Than Just a Rat Trap” by Blake Alma. He discusses camouflage methods, how to remove the human and manufacturing scent from the trap by burying it, adding teeth to the trap and using the rat trap on different target species. The book is under $5.00, so it’s tough to go wrong.

Squirrel Snares and Bait Station

While looking for squirrel trapping info online I ran across an article discussing squirrel snaring at

The article suggested setting a pole up between two trees and mounting a bait station in the center. Multiple snares were set up at the ends  of the pole closest to the tree, so the squirrels had to pass by the snares twice. The baiting station was constructed from a 4″ grey plastic pipe with a couple of wooden half plugs screwed onto either end.

                   The bait station forces the squirrels to run a gauntlet of snares for food

Check Your Local Trapping Regulations

I have tried to keep this as simple as possible. Of course, there are any number of snares or deadfalls that could be made to trap squirrels, but the three methods I have shown here take the capture methods right to the squirrels habitat; the trees it lives in. This helps make any of these methods more effective.

Observation is important to success in any trapping or hunting effort. The traps need to go where the squirrels are.  Pre-baiting will make all of these traps more effective. The pole snare put in place with wires attached but no loops, and kernels of corn spread strategically around will help the local squirrels become accustomed to the object. Same suggestion goes for the baiting station. And a few days of peanut butter served up on the trigger of a rat trap that hasn’t been set will likely ensure a higher level of success.

As always I am not advising you to try any of these methods of catching squirrels without checking exactly what your local laws allow. I am presenting methods of acquiring food that you may need in a survival situation. I don’t believe any court would charge you with a penalty if you were in a survival situation and used these techniques to feed yourself. But I’m no lawyer. Before trying any of this in a non-survival circumstance, do your due diligence and understand your local trapping and small game regulations.

Nothing like fresh food cooked over an open fire

Author: Paul

I was brought up in a family where respect for the outdoors and personal independence were strong values. Early life experience on the small farms of my extended family, in home vegetable gardens and canning and freezing of family grown produce made having a large pantry a commonplace. A career in the nuclear industry and positions in emergency response within that field inculcated a philosophy of preparedness. My personal experience of multi-day power outages only reinforced the possibility of infrastructure breakdown. A growing awareness of possible threats to the electrical grid from pandemic, economic breakdown, cyber-attack, solar storms and EMP attack lead to an interest in the preparedness field with regards to society and the individual family. I continue to research and learn in the prepping field and look forward to assembling additional books in the near future to complement my first, "Survival Fish Harvesting.". I may be contacted at