How to Kill Squirrels: Guide to Killing Squirrels

Kill squirrels to prevent infestations

So, you want to know how to kill squirrels? Good. This means your crazy neighbor who keeps squirrels as pets has not fooled you. You know that squirrels are nothing more than rats with bushy tails. However, choosing how to kill squirrels, the vermin that constantly wreak havoc in your life, can depend on many factors—access, temperament, whether or not you possess badass sniper skills. No matter which way is best for you, you need to know how to get rid of squirrels. I am here to explain your options and help you choose which way is your way to kill the squirrels.

Squirrel infestation

But, before we talk about how to kill squirrels, let’s talk about why these vermin should be eradicated. 

Yes, squirrels are much cuter than rats, but they are still pests who can destroy your home, garden, and car engine. You also probably waste time and money filling your bird feeders. Let’s take a closer look at squirrel damage. Then, we will learn how to kill squirrels..

Keep squirrels away from birdfeeders

Squirrels in the attic

Years ago I worked in a building with a drop ceiling. Several times a day something would land on the tile right above my desk. As the months progressed, this creature grew to mythical size as the sound grew louder. A light tap increased to a tile-shaking thud. My imagination grew with it. To my mind, The Princess Bride Rodents of Unusual Size were living just above my head. They pounded on the tiles in an attempt to break free and attack me—sharp, snarled teeth, paws with razors for claws. I wondered, if this thing breaks free of the ceiling, how do I kill a squirrel before it kills me?

The squirrel stuck in the ceiling might as well have been an ROUS.

My coworkers and batshit crazy boss seemed unconcerned. “Probably just a squirrel,” they told me every time I requested that we call an exterminator or demon-collector to address the issue. Just a squirrel? “Don’t worry,” they said as I jumped every time the ceiling shook from another vicious leap. Don’t worry, my ass.

Then, one morning I arrived at work to find the room empty. The ceiling was still. No thuds or crashes sounded to jolt me from my chair. But, the smell sent me running from the room. I found my coworkers and boss in the conference room hiding from the stink and waiting for the dead-animal-removal angel to arrive. It took a full week for the lingering smell of dead rodent to dissipate. 

How to kill squirrels in attic

It required weeks to repair the damage caused by the squirrel.

First, repair crews had to address the hole in the roof—a weak spot that little sucker gnawed and clawed its way through to set up shop above my head. Because of the hole and length of time the attic had been exposed to the elements, we were told to be on the lookout for rats, mice, an onslaught of insects, snakes, and skinks, the most ungodly of ungodly creatures. (Skinks are snakes with legs and feet. That ain’t right!)

Squirrel damage in attic - how to kill squirrels

After the squirrel broke in, he went right to work decorating his newfound castle. He chewed through wiring and cable as he constructed his nest in the insulation. So, now we’re looking at fixing the roof and replacing damaged wire and soiled insulation. Yes, soiled. That squirrel didn’t have indoor plumbing or acceptable hygiene whatsoever during his stay in the rafters. He was more of a go-where-you-are pest. Droppings and urine and all the smells that go with such things were everywhere, so much so that the repair crew suggested we relocate while they attempt—yes, attempt, not complete, not successfully remove every last bit, but attempt—to clean up after that nasty squirrel.

I was over it. Done. Somebody get me a .22 and some bullets. Damn you, Disney and all the squirrel-lovers. Nothing that does that level of damage can ever be called cute in my world. So, if one squirrel can do this damage, imagine an attic after a squirrel infestation, lots and lots of squirrels tucked in for the long haul. Throwing nasty squirrel parties. Eating nasty squirrel feasts. Marking all your Christmas decorations with their nasty squirrel expulsions. Take a wild guess where the squirrel babies will be born! Congrats, you’re a squirrely Grandma!

Will homeowner’s insurance cover squirrel damage?

Yes, most homeowner’s insurance will cover someof the damage, but it will take considerable time to repair all the damage a squirrel infestation will cause. It will also lower your home’s value. Unless you can have all evidence of the infestation removed or repaired, no potential buyer wants to know that a house is susceptible to a squirrel invasion. And, chances are, anyone touring your home will wonder, “What is that smell? It’s faint, but I keep catching a whiff of something. Poop? Piss? Death? Seriously, do you smell that?”

Yuck! Squirrel feces everywhere - squirrels in attic - how to kill squirrels

And, what about disease? Do squirrels carry rabies?

Squirrels do occasional carry rabies, but that is not the disease you most need to worry about when it comes to a squirrel infestation in your home. Squirrels are known to carry salmonella, which can be airborne from fecal matter. They also carry Lyme disease, tularemia, a condition that causes swollen lymph nodes and ulcers, and leptospirosis. With leptospirosis, you can count on enjoying fever, headaches, vomiting, jaundice, and a sanity-challenging rash. Squirrels are looking less and less cute and more like targets now, aren’t they? For your health and the health of your family and pets, you need to get rid of the squirrels living inside your house.

So, what if the squirrels haven’t invaded your home, but are tearing up your garden. Should you keep squirrels out of the garden?

Yes! Ground squirrels’ diets depend largely on grass and plants, so these critters will feast on your garden, plants, and grass without a single thought to you or the fact that you may like to eat the fruits and vegetables you grow. Of course they don’t think about you. Their brains are tiny. They’ve no room for a conscious. 

How to keep squirrels out of garden

A squirrel’s appetite is not the only problem with these vermin. Ground squirrels burrow, especially for hibernation, creating damaging tunnels throughout your yard. These tunnels ruin the appearance of your lawn, dry out tree and shrub roots, and create trip hazards. Ground squirrels also strip bark off trees. That’s just rude.

Should I keep squirrels away from my bird feeders?

Yes. You spent your hard earned money to attract birds to your yard, not squirrels. You want to sit on your deck, sip a cocktail, and watch the birdies do their thing. But, the damn squirrels keep gobbling up every last seed in the birdfeeder. Or they spill it all over the ground. Or they chase all the birds away with their incessant leaping toward the birdfeeder. Poor, terrified birdies. Not only do squirrels do all this, but then, because their bellies are never full and their appetite knows no end, they claw their way up to bird nests and feast on baby birds and bird eggs! This savage crime cannot be tolerated. So, to save the birds, the squirrels must die. 

How to keep squirrels away from bird feeders

Okay, let’s get to it. Here’s what you need to know about getting rid of squirrels. Permanently.

First, research which methods are legal in your area. For example, lethal squirrel traps are illegal in most states. It is also illegal to poison squirrels. For more on poisoning squirrels and why it is illegal, click here.

For my money, the best way to kill squirrels is shoot them.

what gun is best for killing squirrels?

A .22 rifle is perfect if you plan to eat the squirrel. The bullet is small and will not ruin the meat. A shotgun will kill a squirrel, of course, but will also blast that thing to bits, which will make clean up and carcass removal more difficult. If you are more comfortable with a BB gun rather than a real gun, an air rifle or BB gun will kill a squirrel, too. But, before you fire a weapon, make sure it is legal to discharge a firearm in your area. Being arrested for trying to kill a rodent is flat out dumb.

Two important factors to keep in mind if you are considering shooting the condemned squirrel: location and skill level. First, remember that bullets travel through walls and ceilings and shingles, so if the squirrels are in your attic, shooting them will not be the smartest or safest option. Also, if you know of one squirrel in the attic, there are probably more. Unless you are some sort of Rambo, capable of raining hell down on the squirrels with one quick shot after another, eradicating a squirrel infestation with bullets is not your best bet. Find another way to get rid of the squirrels.

How to kill squirrels

Secondly, you really need to have good aim. The best way to shoot a squirrel dead and be able to eat it (okay, that’s the second time I HAD to mention eating squirrels, and I know some people swear by them, but since I believe squirrels to be diseased rodents, I am now nauseated) is to hit the squirrel right in their tiny, little heads so the bullet or bb destroys their tiny, little brains. This is the best way to kill the squirrel instantly. So, if your aim is skewed and you’re pretty sure you will just maim the animal, leaving it to suffer, find another way to kill the squirrel.

For home infestations or for the gun-challenged, trapping squirrels is the best way to get rid of squirrels.

Use either a lethal trap such as a tube trap, if legal in your area. Never use a lethal body grip trap. These traps are used by fur trappers and should not be employed by amateurs. You could kill the wrong animal or seriously injure yourself while setting it. 

Squirrel traps

If you don’t have access to a lethal trap, use a catch-and-release trap. This way you can just get rid of the squirrels. If you need to kill the squirrels rather than relocate the trapped vermin, euthanize the squirrels using carbon dioxide. A local welding supply company or bottle gas supplier should be able to supply the necessary equipment. 

Or, let nature do its thing. Cats, owls, and bears oh my. Nature holds a whole slew of predators will gobble up these furry creatures.

If you want nature to kill the squirrels for you, then wait for one of their many predators to arrive, or import yourself a few. Trust me, a hawk will get rid of squirrels for you. And, although I don’t believe a hawk or bear or fox make good pets, you won’t see many squirrels after their arrival.

squirrel predator

So, there you go. Now that you know how to kill squirrels, how to get rid of squirrels, get to it. I hope you find success before owing a gigantic damage bill or playing the “What’s that smell” game or waking in the middle of the night to scratching and clawing coming through the ceiling right over your head. To my ears, there is no more dreadful sound than that.

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