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First off, there is no registered or effective poison for squirrels. Many people attempt to use rat poison, but squirrels will almost never eat rat poison. And if they do, they don't usually die. And if they do die, then they're going to die in the attic or walls most likely, and cause a terrible odor as they rot. The smell can last almost a month. If you must kill a squirrel, the best methods, in order, are:
1 - SHOOTING: If you're a good shot, all you need is a high-powered air rifle. Just don't clip and maim.
2 - LETHAL TRAPS: This includes body grip traps set right on the squirrel entry hole, like a connibear 55. These are set by professional fur trappers. Never attempt to use a rat snap trap, it won't do the job, but could main.
3 - POISON: Totally ineffective, and in the rare cases it does work, you've got dead squirrel stench in your house.
Click here for my nationwide list of 100's of professional squirrel trappers serving all 50 states.
Seriously you won't find any squirrel poison sold, and squirrels so rarely eat regular rodenticide poison, and their bodies react in different ways to it. Just do the job right, by trapping and removing the squirrels, and sealing shut the entry holes leading into the house or attic.
How to Kill a Squirrel
Sure, they are cute, with fluffy long tails zipping across the roadways and climbing up into trees in your front yard, however, they can also be a huge nuisance. What are we talking about? The cute little squirrel. However, if this little creature is coming into your home or causing destruction around your house, you will not want to have it anywhere around. So, how can one get rid of a squirrel? Well, you can hope that it goes away on its own; however, if the squirrel has what it needs to survive, he or she may stick around for quite a long time.
Take Away Their Comfort
The first thing to do is to take away all the comforts of home. If you have food outside in trash cans, and who doesn’t? take the time to put tight fitting lids on those cans or house them in a shed or other tight container so that the animal cannot get in and have a feast at their paw tips. If you notice that the critter is coming around a lot and you have not taken these precautions it is past time to do so.
It is now spring time around the nation, and many individuals love to have birdfeeders located in their yards, to draw in all kinds of birds for observation. However, squirrels also love to eat bird seed of all different kinds, and any open bird feeder is an open invitation to have some lunch and stay awhile. Have some clear guards installed on your current bird feeders or if buying new ones, make sure there are some type of guards installed on your feeders. These guards will let a bird get to the food, while frustrating the average squirrel. Sure a squirrel will get some of the bird seed but not much, leaving it to perhaps venture on over to your neighbor’s property to live.
If you live in a locale that has fruit trees and nut trees, these items are so inviting to a squirrel. However, try removing all nuts and berries on the lowest branches where squirrels love to hang out the most. If having these trees means nothing to you, consider digging them up, giving them away or cutting them down to the stump.
Of course, if you simply cannot get rid of these pests, no matter what you do, there is always the possibility of killing them once and for all. However, this is usually used as the ultimate last resort, when you have tried everything you can think of doing and there is simply no other way to take care of the problem.
Before trying to kill the squirrel, consider trying to trap it and remove it from your premises. There are various traps that can be used, and most of these will humanely trap the pest so that you can take it out to the wild or hand it over to a game individual. There will be individuals who will want to take their aim and shoot the pest, although within a city limits this is illegal behavior.
Some homeowners have put down poison to take care of the problem once and for all. However, this can be and is dangerous to use around your own home if you have little experience handing these types of chemicals. It is especially dangerous if you have a family pet, such as a cat or dog that is allowed free reign in your yard, and that may eat the poison themselves. Also take into consideration small children. No one wants a tragedy to take place and a child to be killed. Also, consider the fact that you will have the dead bodies of squirrels to get rid of and that can make anyone reconsider their kill methods, and favor trapping instead.
In addition, there are exclusion traps that can be placed over the entry points of your home or business that will allow the animal to get trapped for later release into the countryside. It is also very important to consider your state and local regulations when it comes to the ability to trap and/or kill a squirrel. Act outside those regulations and fines can be levied against you.
Here are my other squirrel guides:
how to get squirrels out of the attic - for advanced tips and advice
squirrel removal page home page with basic information
squirrel trapping tips page, bait, trap types
squirrel repellent analysis of whether it works or not
how to kill squirrels should you use poison?
how to catch squirrels methods to catch them safely
how to keep away squirrels prevention techniques
Although you will need to check the specific laws for your state, it is *usually* legal for you to use snap traps (that are designed for squirrel-sized animals) to kill squirrels that are problematic for your property. At the same time, it is *usually* illegal to use live cage traps to trap and then release squirrels back into the wild. This isn’t always the case, however, and you should definitely make sure that you know what’s allowed and what isn't for where you live.
It does sound as though death using lethal snap traps is the only way out for a homeowner with squirrels in the back yard, but this simply isn't the case. It can actually be more problematic to deal with the problem in this way, especially if you do not use the right method of killing. Shooting isn’t allowed in residential or built up areas, and you’d need to be a pretty good shot to kill a squirrel in one go. Missing it or hitting the animal in the wrong place is going to result in a long and excruciatingly painful death … and that will be on your hands.
Poison isn't a good idea either, regardless of whether you use rodent poison, a homemade combination of ingredients that you read on the internet somewhere, or antifreeze. Poison won’t kill a squirrel, although it might just kill your cat. There is a chance that you could accidentally contaminate soil and water sources with your toxic combination too. You will need to remember that rat and mouse poison is specifically designed to lure these creatures in to a false sense of security. If you put something down that attracts rodents, you’re going to attract rodents. Then you’ll have a squirrel problem AND a rodent problem.
In almost every case, there is simply no need for the outcome of your squirrel removal to be death. There are so many other options that you could rely on, and many of them even end up being cheaper and less time-consuming than using poison or other kill methods. Exclusion traps, for example, have a rather misleading title, but are actually very effective in getting rid of squirrels when used in the right places. It's a trap without an end — the door shuts the animal out once it has left the hole in your building, and once it is out, it’s out. The door is shut. The open-ended part still allows the creature to venture off into the sunset, though. It is free to find a new home, and you are left to seal up the remaining holes, clean up your yard, and remove the exclusion devices.
There actually aren't very many ways you can humanely and lawfully kill a squirrel in your back yard, and it’s something you’ll definitely want to do your research on before you take any action. In most places, for example, it is illegal to use poison to kill squirrels, although, it seems that many homeowners are quick to reach for rodent poison in order to solve their squirrel invasion.
Antifreeze seems to be another weird squirrel killer recommended on the internet, but this is even more inhumane than using rodent poison and, again, probably won't work.
The problem with killing squirrels on your property is this way is that you don't actually know what happens to them. That squirrel might have eaten your antifreeze or poison and curled up somewhere to die. Alternatively, they might not have eaten enough to take any effect and are absolutely fine, still wreaking havoc in your back garden and peeing all over your attic.
Of course, there is another scenario that you need to think about ... What happens if that squirrel actually curls up to die somewhere in your home, and you then can't find it? After a while, the body will decompose, but it'll smell, and it'll take a long time to fully disappear too. All the time the body is there, there are diseases risks present, and when that carcass attracts flies, maggot, and even rodents and other scavengers, it won't be long before you were wishing for your squirrel to come back, just so that you didn't have to put up with all these new problems anymore.
Lethal traps are an approach that you could take but, once again, you'll need to check the legalities of using those traps in your state or area. At least by using lethal traps, you know exactly where the animal will be, but don't think you can get away with using rat traps to kill squirrels. The trap might not be big enough to fully contain or trap the animal, and it also might not be powerful to kill the animal on first snap. You’ll need to finish the job, which still leaves you with the problem of how to kill a squirrel on your property.
Capture traps that come in the form of tubes are often used to capture and then drown squirrels. With live cage traps, all the ‘action’ is right there in front of you, and you don't have a choice but to watch what is happening. Tube-style traps are enclosed and you can't easily see inside, making the job slightly less uncomfortable for you. However, it is wise to remember that this isn't a humane death either, although you might believe it to be. We know of a number of cases where homeowners have tried to drown an animal, believe they have done it, removed the animal from the water and the thing has sprung right back to life again. We know ... you couldn't make this stuff up!
(If you are going to drown a squirrel which we DO NOT recommend, make sure the animal is actually dead. Otherwise, you’ll need to kill it twice.)
In some places, you might get away with using a firearm to dispose of a problematic squirrel, but this is clearly not the kind of behavior you can get away with in built up areas, for fear of scaring everyone. You would also need to be a pretty good shot to hit a squirrel. They're fast animals, and they'll head right for the trees too. This will make your aim somewhat difficult, especially when the critter starts to blend in to its surroundings. There is also no guarantee that you will hit this animal in just the right spot to kill it immediately, which means that you'll still need to find it and then kill i. If you can't find it and the animal is not dead, you will leave it to a long and painful death out in the wild.
If you're going to kill an animal (an approach that isn't always necessary), please make sure that you are doing it in the most humane way possible.
In reality, there aren't any real quick and easy ways to kill squirrels on your property without getting yourself in trouble with the law. In almost all cases, death isn't a necessary outcome. Exclusion devices are really great at removing animals just like squirrels, and live cage traps can stand in where the exclusion traps fail. With wildlife rehabilitators also on your side, and many of them a lot cheaper than what you might think, it's pretty safe to say that killing squirrels isn't exactly the best option ...
If you still have holes in your home, all wild animals, including other squirrels, can still get in. Killing this one animal is a little like trying to empty an entire lake with just a cereal spoon.
Go back to the Squirrel Removal page, or learn tips to do it yourself with my How to Get Rid of Squirrels guide.