Squirrel Traps, Rat Trap, Skunk Traps, Opossum Trap, Marten Traps, Mink Trap, & Other Small Pest Traps - Kania Industries Inc.


A Guide to Controlling Grey Squirrels

Produced by:

The European Squirrel Initiative 4 East Bank House

Tide Mill Way Woodbridge Suffolk IP12 1BY United Kingdom

July 11, 2011 - Version 1.3

 +44 (0)1394 386919



  1. Introduction 3
  2. Control methods 3

  3. Trapping 4

    1. When to trap 4

    2. Trap sites 4

    3. Trap maintenance and storage 5

  4. Types of traps 5

    1. Spring Traps 5

    2. Cage Traps 6

  5. Warfarin 8

    1. Warfarin Poisoning Legislation 8

    2. Bait 9

    3. Hoppers 9

    4. Hopper deployment 10

  6. Dispatching a squirrel (cage traps) 10

    1. Shooting 11

    2. The sack method 11

  7. Disposal of carcasses 11

  8. The Law 12

Appendix A – Trap types 13

Appendix B - Manufacturers and suppliers of equipment for grey squirrel control 16

  1. Introduction

    Why control Grey Squirrels?

    The Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is a native of North America. It was first released in the UK in 1876 and has now spread across most of the country. It is a destructive pest causing serious damage to trees through stripping bark, to songbird populations by predating nests and to our native red squirrel which it has driven from 90% of the British mainland. Unless the advance of grey squirrels is checked, red squirrels will shortly become extinct on mainland Britain and Ireland.

    Grey squirrels are therefore controlled for both conservation and commercial reasons: to prevent or reduce damage to younger trees, to protect wild birds and other wildlife and to prevent the extinction of red squirrels in Britain and Ireland.

  2. Control methods

    Trapping and the use of Warfarin poison are the most effective methods of reducing grey squirrel populations. There are two kinds of traps- live capture cage traps and lethal spring traps. Cage traps require baiting and capture grey squirrels alive which must then be killed. Spring traps are designed to kill instantly and most types of spring trap do not require baiting. The use of spring traps should be avoided within 10 km of a red squirrel population.

    The use of Warfarin poison has been favoured in most commercial woodland situations because it is less time consuming and hence a less expensive operation while being at least as effective as trapping. Like spring traps it may not be used within 10 km of a red squirrel population.

    Drey poking (grey squirrel areas only) in February plays a useful role in grey squirrel management but only if part of a wider systematic control programme.

    Likewise Shooting, either on its own or in conjunction with drey poking is useful only if part of a systematic control programme. Shooting may also be effective for the removal of occasional 'nuisance' squirrels, for example those found ravaging a strawberry bed, hazelnut crop or specimen trees in an amenity area. As the presence of steel shot in timber may cause degrade, non-steel shot should be used.

  3. Trapping

    A successful trapping session can typically remove up to 90% of the resident grey squirrels in a wood or large garden. It is possible to achieve this by simply setting out the traps and visiting them daily to check the catch.

    • Every effort must be made to avoid the capture of non-target

      species. Knowledge of the tracks, trails and signs of both target and non- target species is essential. In the case of spring traps, reduce the entrance size to prevent the death of non-target species.
    • Traps must be firmly anchored.

    • Traps must be inspected daily.

    • Carcasses should be either incinerated or deeply buried. It may be possible to sell the carcasses to butchers or restaurants but a Lantra Level 2 Award Game Meat Hygiene certificate or its equivalent may be required.

    • Avoid siting traps on or near public footpaths, public rights of way, areas of common land used by persons exercising domestic animals, in the vicinity of houses and on grazed pasture.

      When trapping near water, check for any signs of otter activity, such as;

    • Otter tracks (footprints).

    • A regular feeding place such as a rock in midstream, which will be recognised by assorted food remains such as fish bones.

    • Otters have regular sites where they deposit their droppings or spraints.

    • If in doubt do not set a trap.

        1. When to trap

          The best time of year for cage trapping grey squirrels is between February and August when natural food is relatively scarce in broadleaved woodlands. In autumn the high availability of nuts, berries and fruits significantly reduces the success of cage trapping. Spring traps are effective all year round.

        2. Trap sites

          Experience will determine the most productive sites and be far more effective than placing traps to a regular grid. Traps are normally laid out to form a 'trap round' which may use existing tracks, paths or rides for convenience. However, to minimize vandalism, sites should be chosen to ensure traps are invisible from the track in woods with public access.

          Single capture cage traps may be more easily camouflaged by placing them in a bank or tunnel, singly or in pairs. Leaving both ends uncovered encourages squirrels to investigate the 'tunnel'. In areas where it is difficult to draw squirrels down to the

          ground, or where traps are frequently disturbed by badgers, it may be necessary to mount traps on trees.

          The best sites for traps are generally under the largest trees in a wood. Yew and holly or a single conifer in a predominantly broadleaved wood will often provide good sites, as do tree stumps that are regularly used by squirrels to feed on. The presence of stripped cone-cores and the peeled outer skins of large broadleaved seeds identify these locations. The tops of walls, planks across ditches and fallen trees can also work well.

          The ground beneath the chosen tree and around the stumps should be bare so that scattered bait (see section 4.2.3) is visible to squirrels in the canopy. Squirrels avoid dense ground vegetation. Using a longer pre-bait period or placing traps up trees can improve captures in conifer woodlands.

        3. Trap maintenance and storage

      After trapping operations are complete, traps should be washed, thoroughly checked and repaired as required. They should be stored with exit doors removed. Multi-capture traps should be stacked upside down and the mechanism of other traps secured either open or closed to prevent animals and birds being inadvertently captured.

  4. Types of traps

      1. Spring Traps

        Tunnel trapping, also known as spring trapping is effective all year round. When used by a skilled operator they can be useful when a rapid kill is required; for instance, when unexpected bark stripping damage occurs and the squirrels must be removed immediately. Grey squirrels may be caught incidentally in woodlands on game estates where spring traps are routinely used for predator control.

        Spring traps have arms or jaws activated by strong springs which, when triggered, close violently around the squirrel's neck. Death should be instantaneous. Only traps that have been approved under the Spring Traps (Approval) Order 1995 may be used. The Pests Act 1954 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 require the traps to be set in tunnels. Traps must be inspected at least daily.

        Tunnel traps should be sited in places and runs normally used by grey squirrels. Fenn and Springer traps are set in tunnels so that the treadle is level with the tunnel floor. Tunnels may be natural, such as the hollow of the base of a tree, dry drains and holes in banks and walls, or artificial, constructed from turf logs, pipes, bricks, flat stones or wood. The tunnel should be at least 600 mm long and its internal dimensions sufficient (15cm x 13cm high) to allow the arms of the trap to strike. The entrance holes at either end of the tunnel should be no great than 60 mm to deter animals larger than a squirrel from entering.

        Body grip traps (e.g. BMI Magnum) may also be used successfully to take grey squirrels by making a wire mesh tunnel on a branch that squirrels run along and setting the trap inside. Kania traps are also sited up trees.

      2. Cage Traps

    Cage-traps for squirrels are basically a box constructed of wire mesh with one or two open ends. The doors are triggered by a foot plate or hook from which bait may be suspended. Cage traps can be used to take any animal which is not protected.

    Cage traps should be inspected at least once every day, target animals despatched quickly and humanely and the body disposed of responsibly by incineration or burial. Any non-target species must be released unharmed.

    There are two types of cage traps: single-capture and multi-capture.

    Single-capture traps are designed to catch one squirrel at a time so the trap is out of commission until the animal inside is removed and the trap reset. The catching mechanism generally consists of a treadle connected to a wire (strand or rod) that holds the trap door open. The wire is released when an animal puts weight on the treadle and the door closes either under its own weight or by a spring.

    Accidental release of squirrels from this type of trap will occur if the trap rolls over when occupied or during removal of the squirrel for dispatch. Another design has a single lift door with baffle bars. The drawback of this particular trap is that another squirrel lifting the door to gain entry may release a captive squirrel.

    Once set, multi-capture traps catch continuously and, depending on their size, can hold up to seven squirrels although one to three is the norm. They have two lift doors in a tunnel. The second door is fitted to prevent any squirrels in the trap being released by the next incoming squirrel. Traps with mesh doors may be more effective as the squirrels can see the bait behind the door. Behind each door there is a set of vertical and horizontal baffle bars. These bars prevent captive squirrels opening the doors and their shape and position in the trap is crucial.

    As manufacturers occasionally modify their trap design the dimensions of the doors, tunnel and baffle bars should be checked before accepting delivery to ensure they comply with the specifications. These traps have one or two sliding doors through which the captured animals are extracted. Some traps are also termed 'permanently baited' because they have a metal tray that sits beneath the wire mesh trap floor and is filled with maize. The maize in the tray is protected from mice, voles and squirrels by a fine wire mesh above the tray.

    This mesh must not be greater than 6 mm x 6 mm. Single capture traps are recommended for use if there are also red squirrels in the area. However red squirrels are more likely to enter the 'open door' type of cage trap compared to traps with a flap door entrance.

    Cage Trap Deployment

    At the chosen site, level an area of ground. Lay the trap so that the wire mesh floor of the trap is flush with the ground. If possible, use a metal 'bait tray' attached to the bottom of the trap, to minimize the loss of bait to mice. Secure the trap by staking or pegging it down, and leave the trap with the door held open. At this stage the trap should be open but not set.

    Put two handfuls of whole maize in the main body of the trap, and scatter several handfuls on the ground around the trap. Cover the traps with branches and leaves.

    Bait for cage traps

    Many types of bait have been compared, including wheat, rice, peanuts, peanut butter, acorns and hazelnuts but yellow whole maize has proved to be the best all round bait.


    Grey Squirrels will only eat the kernel and is a good activity monitor as well as bait.

    Not only is it a favoured food, but it is readily available in quantity, is relatively cheap, stores well and is very visible to squirrels when scattered on the ground. Uniquely, grey and red squirrels only eat the germ of the maize grain and discard the remainder. This can be used to advantage to show if squirrels have visited a trap site. The maize bait can be supplemented with a small quantity of acorns, peanuts or hazelnuts to increase its attraction at times when squirrels are difficult to trap.


    A period of pre baiting is essential to give squirrels a chance to find cage traps and become used to feeding within them. The presence of grey squirrels feeding at traps will attract others. As traps on pre-bait need only be visited every other day, there is less human disturbance than when traps are set immediately and visited daily.

    Pre-baiting lasts for a minimum of five days after which the traps are set for a period of four to five days. Without a pre-bait period it may take two to three weeks to catch the squirrels with a daily (preferably twice-daily) visit necessary throughout.

    Checking traps

    After the five day pre-baiting period, set the trap. Check that the treadle mechanism is working properly and place a few kernels of maize at the back of the trap and at the entrance. Re-cover the trap. Once a trap has been set, it must be visited at least once a day, twice in highly populated areas and ideally a couple of hours after dawn and at dusk. When you check the trap, dispatch any squirrels as quickly as possible to minimize stress, (see trapping dispatch section for humane methods). Re-set trap as before and bait. After four or five days of trapping in an area, if squirrels are not being caught, remove the trap and if necessary re-site it elsewhere and repeat the procedure.

    Poor cage trapping success

    There are some situations that prevent successful cage trapping. Squirrels are generally most trappable from February to the August, although there may be a short period when they feed on flowers of broadleaved trees and captures will be low. After July, there is normally abundant natural food available and cage trapping may become inefficient.

    Spring traps however will catch all year round.

    Traps that have been visited by a stoat or a weasel, both of which leave a strong musky smell, will need to be lifted and left aside for a few days.

    Very occasionally, and for no apparent reason, a trap site will not be visited. In these circumstances just moving the trap to a new site 10–20 m away is often sufficient and the trap should then catch.

    Trapping programmes and management

    The trapping methodology described above should be used irrespective of the number of traps deployed or the location (e.g. garden, park or woodland). A number of trapping sessions will be required when traps are used in quantity, for example in a forest or series of small woodlands. Traps should be moved sequentially from one trapping area to another and in these situations a rolling programme along the following lines may be employed, starting in this example on a Wednesday, which avoids weekend visits:

    • Day 1 (Wednesday) traps are put out and pre-baited.

    • Day 3 (Friday) traps are visited and rebaited.

    • Day 6 (Monday pm) traps are set.

    • Day 7 (Tuesday) set traps are visited twice.

    • Day 8 (Wednesday) set traps are visited twice and a second batch of traps are put out and pre-baited in a new area.

    • Day 9 (Thursday) set traps are visited twice.

    • Day 10 (Friday) set traps are visited once and lifted and held ready for putting out in the next area to be trapped the following Wednesday. The second batch of traps are visited and pre-baited so that they are ready for setting on the following Monday.

      This sequence is repeated until all the target areas have been trapped. It is possible for one person to manage two batches of around 30–40 traps provided there is reasonable access between the trap sites and the two trapping areas are not too far apart.

      Extending the pre-bait period may increase trapping efficiency in conifer woodlands.

  5. Warfarin

    Warfarin poison may only be deployed out of doors against grey squirrels for tree protection between 15 March and 15 August. A successful poisoning operation will be at least as effective as cage trapping, even though few, if any, dead squirrels will be found. Squirrels may be poisoned in loft spaces all year round but in the autumn it can be difficult to get them eating poison and alternative methods are best used. Only trained operators can buy warfarin bait. Poison formulations for the control of rats and mice must not be used.

      1. Warfarin Poisoning Legislation

        Warfarin is regulated by the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 which permits the use of 0.02% warfarin on wheat to control grey squirrels in specified areas of England, Wales and Scotland where red squirrels are locally absent.

        The Grey Squirrels (Warfarin) Order 1973 permits the poisoning of grey squirrels with the anticoagulant warfarin for the purpose of tree protection. The Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 specifies, on the product label (ref. MAPP 13020_Grey Squirrel Bait) how, where and when it may be deployed. These specifications include the bait, and the design and dimensions of the hopper.

        Operators must be trained before using warfarin. The National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) provides a nationally recognised Certificate of Competence for Vertebrate Pest Control, which includes grey squirrel control. The responsible use of warfarin is vital and every attempt must be made to prevent or reduce risk to other species. Hoppers should hold no more than 4 kg bait and be clearly labelled with a warning that they contain a poison.

        It is a criminal offence to use Warfarin where red squirrels persist, unless an application is made.

      2. Bait

        Only the 0.02% warfarin bait (Grey Squirrel Bait MAPP no. 13020) may be used. The approval for Grey Squirrel Liquid Concentrate MAFF no. 06455 has been revoked.

        Gloves (unlined or flocklined synthetic rubber or PVC to European Standard EN 374) should be worn when handling the bait and the control operation should be covered by a written Risk Assessment. Disposal of contaminated personal protective and other equipment should be through a registered waste contractor

      3. Hoppers

        The image below shows the required dimensions of the hopper, which are set to prevent animals larger than grey squirrels gaining access to the poison. Selective access hoppers should be used. These have a flap door in the tunnel entrance preventing access by smaller animals and reduce bait usage by approximately 50%. There are two types of door: the weighted door which is the most reliable; and the magnetic door that is equally effective when operating correctly, but the magnet may become dislodged or lose power with age or from a coating of debris.


        Ref: Mayle B., Ferryman M. & Pepper H. of Forest Research.

      4. Hopper deployment

    Hopper sites should be spaced approximately 200 m apart and distributed throughout the control area at a density of one hopper to 1–4 ha, depending on intensity of control. At each site a hopper is placed at the base of a tree or stump with the tunnel tilted slightly down to prevent surface water flowing down the tunnel into the bait.

    The entrance may either face into or away from the tree/stump. Placing hoppers facing the tree 20–25 cm away limits access by non-target species, and bait spillage. The hopper is firmly secured with branch- wood or with one or two stakes which must not prevent the lid from closing fully. The hopper is held to the stake with either tying wire or bands made from a car tyre inner tube.

    Branchwood, stone or turf can then be used to camouflage the hopper from the public. An alternative is to dig the hopper into a bank. Occasionally, badgers, muntjac or feral wild boar will persistently disturb hoppers despite being well staked and secured.

    Another site should first be sought, but if this is not possible or it is also disturbed, the hopper must be placed above the ground either in the fork of a tree or on a platform. Hoppers sited above ground are difficult to hide.

    Bark-stripping damage can occur on trees close to a well used hopper due to subordinate animals 'waiting' for a dominant squirrel to finish feeding. The addition of a second hopper 3–5 m away will generally curtail further damage. It is advisable to avoid placing hoppers near to final crop trees

  6. Dispatching a squirrel (cage traps)

    Trapping comb


    A trapping comb will help you with the removal or dispatch of the squirrel. Using one or two combs to persuade the squirrel to move along the trap. The second comb is placed between the first comb and the squirrel as soon as possible. Repeating until the squirrel is held at the far end of the trap. With the squirrel trapped you can easily place the Hessian sack over the end of the trap or dispatch with a gun without the squirrel moving around.

      1. Shooting

        Shooting at close range through the cage trap with an air gun is a humane method of dispatch. However, air rifles may be cumbersome to use but some air pistols are powerful enough to achieve an instant kill. There is a risk of injury to the operator as the wire mesh or the ground may deflect the pellet. Blood in the trap may deter other animals from entering and pose a risk of squirrel pox disease transfer where both red and grey squirrels are present.

      2. The sack method

    A medium weight Hessian sack is used to extract the squirrels from the trap. If the sack is too thin there is a high risk of being bitten or scratched through the fabric, and if too heavy it will be difficult to control the movement of a squirrel inside. Polythene sacks are unsuitable. After first checking that there are no holes in it, the open end of the sack is placed around the trap exit door and the width of the sack rolled up to form a tunnel.

    The exit door is opened and captive squirrels are driven, one at a time, into the sack and the exit door closed. When squirrels are reluctant to leave the trap, e.g. in poor light conditions, they can be encouraged to move into the sack by blowing on the base of their tail. The operator should position themselves so as not to deter the squirrel from entering the sack. The squirrel is then moved into the corner of the sack and with the head positioned carefully within the corner, killed rapidly and humanely by a single blow to the back of the head with a blunt instrument.

  7. Disposal of carcasses

    Where Warfarin is used carcasses should be disposed of as a controlled a waste in a classified landfill site (via your refuse collection). Squirrel carcasses are classified as a non-hazardous waste under EWC code 02 01 02. For further guidance contact the Environment www.environment-agency.gov.uk or your local Scottish Environment Protection Agency office www.sepa.org.uk.

    It may be acceptable to leave carcasses, believed to be free from disease, distributed in suitable locations in the woodland. Alternatively carcasses may be buried provided they are not diseased or poisoned.

    In all cases if a carcasses shows symptoms of squirrelpox virus (scabs around eyes, nose, mouth and feet) should be sent to the State Veterinary Service for investigation. To find your local office visit www.animalhealth.defra.gov.uk

    Carcasses suspected of being infected with diseases communicable to humans or animals cannot be buried and must be sent for incineration or rendering. Advice should be sought from the local office of the State Veterinary Service. To find your local office visit www.animalhealth.defra.gov.uk

    Gloves should be worn when handling potentially infected animals.

  8. The Law

    It is illegal to release a grey squirrel back into the wild!

    Red Squirrels have been protected against intentional acts of damage or disturbance since 1981 under the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act (WACA), Schedule 5. Protection for Red Squirrels and other species was amended by the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act, 2004 to include both intentional and reckless acts (see FCS guidance note 'Forest operations and wildlife in Scottish forests'). Subject to certain exceptions, it is now an offence to 'intentionally or recklessly:

    • Kill, injure or take (capture) a Red Squirrel.

    • Damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place which a Red Squirrel uses for shelter or protection or,

    • Disturb a Red Squirrel while it is occupying a structure or place which it uses for that purpose.

Anyone who carries out, or knowingly causes or permits these acts to occur could be committing an offence.

Under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 Section 11 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 Article 12, if any person uses a decoy, for the purpose of killing or taking any wild mammal, they shall be guilty of an offence.

Under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 and the Welfare of Animals (Northern Ireland) Act 1972 Article 21, it is illegal to: mutilate, kick, beat, nail, impale, stab, burn, stone, crush, drag, drown or asphyxiate any wild mammal with intent to inflict unnecessary suffering.

The Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 does not apply to lawful pest control or humane dispatch of injured mammals. Unlawful use may include trespassing or acting without the consent of the landowner.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 imposes a duty on the trapper not to be cruel to the animal.

Statutory Acts and Orders

  • Abandonment of Animals Act 1960

  • Animal By-Products Regulations 2003

  • Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986

  • Grey Squirrels (Warfarin) Order 1973

  • Pests Act 1954

  • Animal Welfare Act 2006

  • Spring Traps (Approval) Order 1995

  • The Animal By-Products Amendment (Scotland) Order 2001

  • Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981


This guide has been complied with reference to a number of sources including the Forestry Commission, personal communication and others.

Appendix A – Trap types

Elgeeco Cage Trap


The Elgeeco is designed specifically to catch grey squirrels and it does not catch and cause unnecessary distress to non-target species. The Elgeeco does not kill or maim and is safe and simple to use.

The Elgeeco is set up off the ground on a tree trunk, the side of a fence, building or inside a loft. Once captured squirrels are up off the ground away from the attention of predators.

WCS Tube Spring Trap


The WCS Tube Trap is approved for the killing of grey squirrels, mink, rats, stoats and weasels.

The Tube Trap is 4.5 inches in diameter, and is constructed of 21 gauge steel and is treated to stop rusting. The Tube Trap is 15 inches in length and is powered by a modified double torsion spring. The parts are all precision cut by laser so they are no sharp edges to contend with. This trap can be used in both a baited and unbaited manner and can be placed directly on the ground without the need for another tunnel.



The Kania 2000 trap is a self contained unit which allows the trapper an instant set and is widely considered one of the safest setting and most humane traps in the world today. This is a selective trap, very suitable for use by pest controllers in a wide variety of situations and locations. The perfect grey squirrel trap to use in loft spaces, mounted on trees and baited with peanuts, peanut butter or whatever your favourite attractant happens to be.

BMI Magnum 'Bodygrip' traps


BMI MAGNUM 'Bodygrip' traps are the end result of many years continuous development. Lightweight and compact the design suits a wide variety of pest control situations. It is widely accepted in the USA that the MAGNUM series are the fastest humane killing production 'bodygrip' traps.

BMI Bodygrip traps feature a four way trigger which fires the trap when an animal pushes the trigger from any direction, including the side. The shape of the flexible trigger wires can be simply changed, altering the strike area to suit individual circumstances. The more experienced in their use you become the more you will see their potential.

Bodygrip Cubby Tunnel


All spring traps by law have to be placed in a natural or artificial tunnel, also the BMI Bodygrip traps need to be stabilised. The Magnum cubby tunnel offers both cover for the trap as well as stability.

Fenn Traps


The Mark 4 Fenn trap is approved for killing grey squirrels. It must be placed within a tunnel which should measure 600mm long with internal measurements 15cm wide x 13cm high - sufficient to allow the arms of the trap to strike.

The Fenn-Cage


The Fenn-Cage can be used with the entrance to the side, the top or even with bottom entry to cover all trapping situations for rats and grey squirrels

Appendix B - Manufacturers and suppliers of equipment for grey squirrel control

This list is not exhaustive and does not reflect a recommendation from us for a particular supplier or product.

Ref: www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/INFD-756E5R

For a list of pest controllers in your area visit –

British Pest Control Association (BPCA) Ground Floor, Gleneagles House Vernongate, Derby, DE1 1UP

T: 01332 294288

F: 01332 295904

enquiry@bpca.org.uk www.bpca.org.uk


The Kania 2000 Trap is suitable for trapping:
Squirrel (Black Squirrel, Grey Squirrel),
Marten, Mink, Opossum, Rat, Skunk, & Other Small Pests


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