The Best (and Safest) Squirrel Bait Options, Plus Trapping Tips

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated February 14, 2022
Squirrel eating nuts
Photo: mark stein / EyeEm / Adobe Stock


  • Peanuts are some of the best squirrel baits.

  • Never use poison bait to catch a squirrel.

  • There are two types of humane squirrel traps: One-door and two-door cages.

  • Place squirrel traps on flat surfaces where you can check on them twice daily.

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They’re cute, they’re funny, but they’re making a mess of your yard. The squirrels have got to go. With the right bait, squirrel trap, and release strategy, you can successfully keep these critters out of your yard. Here’s how you can catch and release squirrels safely and humanely.

What Is the Best Squirrel Bait for Traps?

First thing’s first: finding the best bait for squirrel traps. You’ve probably already noticed that squirrels will eat many different foods, but that doesn’t mean you should feed them unhealthy foods to trap them. 

There are many healthy bait options to choose from, including:

  • Nuts and nut-based foods

  • Grains and seeds

  • Oranges and apples

  • Bread

Here’s a guide on how you can use each bait to attract squirrels:

Nuts/Peanut Butter

A peanut and peanut butter combo is popular squirrel bait. After all, squirrels gather nuts and seeds from your yard (though they will try to eat just about anything). You can bait a humane trap with peanuts to entice a hungry squirrel by smearing the pan with peanut butter and embedding a few unsalted, in-the-shell peanuts in the peanut butter.

Since just about any unsalted nut will grab a squirrel’s attention, the particular nut is less important than finding a way to keep it in the bait pan. So, if you don't have peanuts or peanut butter—or you're allergic to them—consider alternatives such as walnuts or acorns.

Grains and Seeds

There’s a reason squirrels like to dig into those bird feeders of yours. They love grains and seeds, and unfortunately for the birds, this means major competition. On the bright side, that same birdseed works wonders as bait.


If you face a scurry of squirrels (more than one), you need to catch and relocate the group quickly to prevent damage to your home. Double the temptation with the next best bait for squirrel traps: fruit. Second to nuts, grains, and seeds, citrus and apples are the most effective. Oranges are sweet and juicy and have a strong, pleasant aroma, which is very tempting to thirsty squirrels on a hot summer day.


You can also use bread in the bait pan. Simply smear peanut butter or even gooey marshmallow onto some soft bread as an edible glue in the bait pan.

Nix the Poison Baits

You should strive to prevent squirrels from getting in your home, but once they're in, poisoning rather than trapping them could have unintended consequences. For example, a squirrel may die in your attic, within a wall, or in a location you can't reach. 

Not only will it smell, but it will create a disease risk and may attract other pests. There’s also a chance that your household pet will get ahold of a poisoned squirrel if one escapes to the yard, poisoning your cat or dog.

How to Place a Squirrel Trap

A squirrel on the top of a roof
Photo: John / Adobe Stock

The best squirrel trap in the world won't be effective if it’s not baited and placed correctly. By combining the right squirrel bait with intelligent trap placement, you will increase your chances of success.

Follow these three steps on how to set up and place your squirrel trap to increase your chances of catching one:

1. Choose the Right Trap for the Job

Make sure you pick a live trap. There are two types of cages available for catching squirrels humanely: one- or two-door traps. 

One-door traps have a door with a trigger plate in the back for putting the bait. This setup makes it less likely for squirrels to take the bait without setting off the trap. Two-door traps have a dual entry that allows squirrels to enter from both sides, increasing your chances of catching one. 

2. Place the Trap Where You Can Check It Regularly

This could be in front of an entry point, next to a tree, close to a bird feeder, or even on a flat part of your roof. Squirrels enter your home through openings in the exterior, so look for dislodged soffit screens, loose flashing around chimneys, or holes in gable-end louvered panels. Put the trap at the opening and be sure to check it twice a day.

3. Avoid Using Attic Traps

If you want to stop squirrels from nesting in your attic, DIY attic traps are seldom effective. For one, most people are unlikely to climb into the attic two or three times a day. 

Not to mention, it’s inhumane to let a trapped squirrel suffer in the attic heat, especially during the summer. Plus, it endangers your own health by encouraging disease and other pests like insects and bacteria.

What to Do With a Trapped Squirrel

You’ve caught a squirrel! Now what? Relocating a trapped squirrel is easy, but there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Don't release a squirrel into a neighbor's yard. Squirrels tend to be territorial and unwelcoming to an uninvited guest. Plus, it’ll probably come right back!

  • Pick a large, wooded area for the release. This will give the squirrel food, water, and shelter. The larger the area, the easier the squirrel can become part of the local population.

  • Release at least five miles away, preferably at night. The distance and darkness will disorient the squirrel, discouraging it from returning.

  • Don't relocate during the winter. According to The Humane Society, the squirrel will starve if you release it in the winter. Instead, contact pest control or a humane squirrel removal professional in your area.


What is the best squirrel bait?

Squirrels love nuts, so peanut butter is one of the best baits to use to humanely trap them. Most importantly, they won’t be able to dine and dash with peanut butter like they can with whole nuts, so they’ll spend more time in the trap, increasing your odds of success.

What food attracts squirrels the most?

Squirrels eat nuts in the wild, so they will be very attracted to peanuts and other nuts placed in a trap.

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