Will A Rat Trap Kill Squirrels? [Is It Humane?]

will a rat trap kill squirrels

While rats are known to be pests, many people will already have dedicated rat traps in place. However, if you find that it is not just the rats but also squirrels that have become bothersome, you may wonder if the rat trap could double as a squirrel trap.

The short answer is that rat traps are not effective on squirrels. These traps may be effective in some cases, but it is not a good idea as the anatomy of rats and squirrels differ. Furthermore, a rat trap will likely injure or maim the squirrel leaving it to suffer before succumbing to its injuries and making it inhumane and ineffective.

In an ideal world, humans and squirrels would coexist without issue, and in most cases, they do. However, sometimes action needs to be taken as squirrels can cause many problems to your home and garden environment. 

Trapping squirrels with a rat trap may seem like a convenient “kill two birds with one stone” solution. After all, squirrels are often considered to be “rats with bushy tails,” right? 

What Does “Humane” Mean When It Comes To Killing Rodents?

It may surprise you that humane does not necessarily mean that the squirrel is merely trapped and then set free. More often than not, a humane trap will kill the intended rodent. 

However, the killing is intended to be swift and painless, which is what humane traps mean.

A humane trap will ensure no the animal does not endure any suffering or pain on the animal’s behalf. But a humane trap for a rat may not serve the same purpose for a squirrel.

Differences Between A Rat And A Squirrel

In order to lay an effective and humane trap for squirrels, you should understand their anatomy and characteristics. As well as the critical differences between rats and squirrels, these differences could be why a rat trap is ineffective for a squirrel.

Active during the dayNocturnal
Thick fluffy tailThin, hairless tail
More prominent ears and eyes compared to ratsLong and tubular body shape
The average squirrel weighs 1-1.5 lbs.Average body weight of 5 ounces
15-20 inches in body length9-11 inches in body length
The average tail length is 6-9.5 inches longThe average tail length is 7-9 inches
Squirrels can run almost 15 miles per hourCan run up to 8 miles an hour

With all this in mind, it should be obvious why a rat trap is unsuitable for humanely getting rid of a squirrel.

Humane Rat Traps And Its Use On Squirrels

While you could use various DIY methods for expelling rodents, consider the three types of rat traps for their humane qualities. However, they do not have the same desired effect when used on squirrels.

#1 Spring Trap or Snap Trap

Spring traps are designed to be smaller in size so they can be easily concealed and inconspicuous. The bait is loaded on a trigger, and the weight of the rat will cause the spring to snap and clamp down onto the rat, killing it instantly. 

Due to a squirrel’s larger size, the snap trap may not make complete contact with its neck, thus leaving the squirrel injured and suffering.

#2 Live Traps 

These cages allow the rat to enter, and once it hits the trigger point, the door will shut, leaving the rat trapped and unharmed. The idea is that the rodent is kept alive and can be removed from your property and released elsewhere. 

The trap requires a regular check; food and water are left to keep the rat alive. Squirrels being longer in length with a thicker tail, run the risk of having a part of their body trapped in the door, causing injury. 

The squirrel will do further bodily harm by attempting to escape. Once again, leaving the squirrel in pain or left to die.

#3 Automatic Traps

Automatic traps make use of C02 instead of poisons. This trap is cylindrical and almost L-shaped. When the rodent stands at the base of the trap and has its head inside, a sensitive trigger releases a powerful spurt of condensed air, killing the rat—leaving it to fall to the ground outside the trap. 

An automatic trap eliminates many rats at once since the rodents can escape without being trapped inside. However, if a squirrel were to encounter this trap, it would likely become stuck inside the opening once it has been killed. Therefore, leaving the trap susceptible to scavengers and damage caused by decomposition, attracting more rodents and pests to your home.

Humane Ways To Trap Or Deter Squirrels

Like rat traps, squirrel traps come in all shapes and sizes and will perform effectively and humanely.

Flat Traps For Squirrels

Similar to the automatic rat traps and snap traps, they are better suited to the anatomy of a squirrel. People with children or pets are cautioned against using these as they can cause serious bodily harm to unsuspecting loved ones.

Box Traps For Squirrels

Just like live traps, these are the most humane traps. It functions and serves the same purpose but works perfectly for trapping squirrels.

Tube Traps

While these are more costly than all the traps, they are safest to use if you have larger domestic animals. Tube traps act like snap traps, but a cylindrical tube traps the squirrels.

The squirrel’s neck will be broken by a spring-loaded mechanism when it attempts to retrieve the bait.

If you prefer not to harm, kill or even trap a squirrel, you could opt for several deterrents or repellent hacks.

Safe And Humane Ways To Repel Squirrels:

  • Plant flowers that deter squirrels
  • Utilize rodent repellent mechanisms that emit a high-frequency sound
  • Sprinkler systems that are motion activated
  • Natural and eco-friendly repellent sprays
  • Remove any food or water source for other animals or place them in squirrel-proof feeders.

Final Word

Rat Traps were designed for rats and won’t work on squirrels. However, there are a plethora of humane options when it comes to squirrel and rodent control. You just need to choose the one that best suits your lifestyle, conscience, and budget.

However, should an infestation occur, be it rats or squirrels, it’s best to seek out expert help regarding removal or extermination.

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