Squirrels in the Attic

How to Kill Squirrels

Killing them is a difficult and inefficient method. Why not go with an easier, more effective plan, and do a proper exclusion with home repairs?

How to Kill Squirrels in the Attic - Does Poison Work?

"Squirrels are just rats with furry tails! I know how to solve the problem, just kill 'em!" Possibly, but killing squirrels is actually much more difficult than exclusion or trapping, and less effective. You could set lethal traps by the squirrel holes, but these traps are very difficult to set, not to mention dangerous. And they only get one squirrel at a time, so they are ineffecient. What about poison then? There are no registered rodenticides for squirrels. Squirrels never eat food in an attic, so unlike with rats, they will not consume rat poison. And rat poison is not designed for squirrels, so if they did eat it, they may not die. Also, if you do manage to kill one with poison, the smell of a rotting squirrel is terrible. Any of these attempts are inhumane of course, if you care, which you might not if your top interest is killing them. I understand if you may hate the squirrels, or think that killing them is the logical approach and so on, but seriously, it's a lot more challenging to kill squirrels than to install a one-way exclusion door or a repeater trap.

Is Killing Squirrels the Best Approach to Solve the Problem?

Body Grip Trap

You can set this type of trap at a squirrel entry/exit hole, but it's hard and dangerous to set, and it only catches one squirrel at a time.

Snap Trap

These rarely work, and you're more likely to end up with an escaped squirrel (maybe injured) than a dead squirrel. These traps are meant for rats.

3 - A Repeater Trap Is Easier

Just mount this trap on the main squirrel entry/exit hole, and you can trap all of them as they come out. After that, it's easier to release them than kill them.

4 - Exclusion is Even Easier

This one-way door, like the trap in the photo to the left, lets them all get out, but not back in. It's a lot easier to install this than deal with killing them!

Information About Killing Squirrels in the Attic

HOW TO KILL A SQUIRREL - There is more than a few ways to kill a problematic squirrel, or a bunch of them for that matter. Killing should really be a last resort when you have a squirrel infestation as it could lead to its own consequences, depending on how you go about it. I do not advocate killing squirrels for any reason, there's simply no reason for it, and it's a lot harder than an exclusion. But if and when you do exhaust your options in your specific situation or for whatever reason you decide to kill them, here are some methods to use:

1. Shooting
Shooting is more suited to a low population squirrel infestation, as squirrels grow gun shy after some tie. Use an air rifle, a .22 rifle, or a .410 shotgun loaded with birdshot, and be sure you’ve got a good aim.

2. Trap and kill
The most humane way to kill a squirrel is to trap it with a baited, live cage trap and then euthanize it using a Co2 chamber, or injection. You may also fire a shot to its head at this close range. The animal dies quickly without suffering much. Of course, you could also transport a trapped squirrel several miles away from your area and release it back into the wild.

3. Lethal traps
A lot of people use rat traps to trap and kill squirrels, and while it may be effective in some cases, it only maims the squirrel in most other cases. The best type of trap to use is the body grip trap as this is better suited for the squirrel’s body size. An example is the Connibear 55. You may place the trap over the entrance of your squirrel’s nest so it gets caught up on its way out.

4. Poison Bait Traps
Anticoagulant baits (chlorophacinone or diphacinone) are commonly used in some areas, even though ineffective and illegal. These are NEVER suited to an outside infestation, like in the garden or a field. They might work in those periods that squirrels’ desired food is scarce, usually right after hibernation. At any other time, they would barely go near those baits. In order to be effective, squirrel should ideally feed on these baits for about 5 days with no longer than 48 hours gap per time. This is somewhat of a tall order, and the reason that poison baits rarely produce the desired result.

5. Poisoning
Apart from being an inhumane way of getting rid of animals, laying poison out for your squirrel pest puts neighborhood pets and even children at risk. Moreso, squirrels are very mobile and in many cases do not get to eat those poisons (even if they see them). This especially refers to rat poison, which a lot of people erroneously believe in. In the event that it does kill the squirrel, if it is an indoors pest, it will likely crawl into some dark corner to die and raise an odor issue. Common poisons include:
  - Anticoagulants - the effects are gradual, developing over 2-3 days during which the animal will likely move around looking for comfort. After this time, the rodent suffers severe anemia or hypovolemic circulatory shock and die.
  - Strychnine: this works faster and is rather dangerous to leave around the house. Strychnine is rapidly absorbed from the pest’s stomach and produces clinical signs within two hours of intake. Clinical signs include, but are not limited to drooling, anxiety, tremors, severe seizures, nervousness and finaly, acute death.
Other rodent poisons include Chloralose, Aesenic, White Posphorus, Bromethalin, Barium, Crimidine, Thallium, Scilliroside, Fluoroacetamide or Strychnine. Read about How To Find a Dead Squirrel in the House.

6. Fumigants
Acrolein (Magnacide) is the most effective fumigant currently available to control ground animals, though not really eastern gray squirrels. These methods of killing squirrels are sometimes very effective, and at other times, may backfire with severe consequences. Poison especially should be used with utmost caution when the infestation is indoors. Killing of squirrels and indeed other wildlife is both inhumane and unnecessary because there are other ways for homeowners to rid themselves of these pests. Killing should be treated as a last resort and it should be carried out in a humane manner.

It is of utmost importance that you familiarize yourself with the animal control rules of your locality before going ahead with any of these control measures. Getting arrested for it would clearly give your squirrel the last laugh!

The Bottom Line

How to kill squirrels in the attic - no matter how much you may hate squirrels, it's a heck of a lot easier and more effective to just do a proper squirrel exclusion. You have the added benefit of not having to deal with squirrel carcasses or rotting squirrel odor in your house.