How to increase your catch rate
Once a well-placed Goodnature A18 trap is introduced to an area, it’s often only a matter of days until it will dispatch its first grey squirrel. This is always a great start to your trapping campaign and is often followed by more strikes a day or two later. However, it’s been a few months since it was installed, and you aren’t seeing the number on the counter climb like it used to, why? It could be down to a few variables but below are the most common reasons.
An A18 that worked well in summer may no longer work as well in winter, and this can be down to a few different reasons. For example – The A18 trap was first set on a walnut tree that was near to producing its crop. At this time squirrels will regularly visit the tree checking if the walnuts are ready for them to eat. As they visit the tree, they come across the A18 and are dispatched. Now it’s spring and the squirrels aren’t going in the trap. It’s most likely that this is because there are no longer any walnuts, and the squirrels aren’t used to feeding from the walnut tree at this time of year, and feeding from it is unnatural. This will make the squirrels become suspicious of the attractant in the trap and they will normally give the A18 a wide berth. In the spring try placing the trap near younger trees where the squirrels will be actively feeding on the floam under the bark of a young tree. Squirrels chew the bark of the tree to get to the floam as it contains a high amount of natural sugar that the squirrels consume to help them get into breeding condition.
Depending on the area that the trap is in, the lack of strikes could simply be down to a lack of squirrels. If this is the case, then great news! However, if you’re still seeing grey squirrels in the area, and they’re not going in the trap it could be down to the trap’s location.
Finding a place where grey squirrels naturally travel is the first step, and understanding your woodland is key. Once you understand your woodland; siting the A18 is easy. Squirrels will travel from different blocks of woodland via something called a ‘wildlife corridor’. Wildlife corridors do what they say on the tin, and are used by animals to get from A to B using the shortest distance. This normally consists of a block of woodland that funnels down to a hedge, and the hedge acts as a corridor for wildlife to travel safely to another block of woodland. If an A18 is placed inside a block of woodland as it funnels down to a wildlife corridor, it means squirrels are far more likely to come across the trap, investigate, and go in.
Another scenario may be a new plantation next to established woodland. In this situation grey squirrels will travel from the established woodland where they live, to feed on the new plantation. In this case the Goodnature A18 should be placed just inside the mature woodland before the squirrels get the the new plantation. This placement will see the A18 as the first port of call for food and the squirrels should investigate. A new plantation is high priority, and all trapping efforts should be focused on protecting it.
Squirrels are prey animals and they’re always on edge. If something doesn’t feel right, then they won’t risk it. The squirrel needs to feel comfortable enough that nothing is going to harm it, and if it gets into trouble, it has an easy escape route. Once you’ve found the right area, the ideal location for your A18 is on a mature, hardwood tree, that has a well-connected canopy and clear understory. This creates the perfect escape route for a squirrel as it can run up the tree and escape through the treetops, or it can run down the tree and escape with no obstructions on the ground.
If the Goodnature A18 is going into a garden environment, then these criteria won’t be available to you. However, squirrels that regularly visit gardens become a lot bolder, and will somewhat overcome their natural fight or flight instincts meaning that an easy escape route isn’t as important. In the garden environment the key to success is placing the trap somewhere that squirrels naturally travel. This can be on a tree, outbuilding or fence. This placement ensures the squirrel will come across the trap and should be lured in by your chosen attractant. Avoid placing the A18 next to bird feeders as this will only act as food competition. Removing the bird feeders all together will drastically increase your chances of success, as it will force the squirrel to look for food elsewhere, and they should enter the trap.
The attractant supplied is great at luring squirrels into your Goodnature A18. However, after a few months you may find that you aren’t catching as many squirrels, even though you’ve kept everything the same. This is a common occurrence, and the problem can simply be that the squirrels aren’t as keen on the attractant, and may be in search of a different type of food source. The natural diet of a grey squirrel changes with the seasons and they can be extremely fussy with what they eat; especially when there are multiple food sources available. Changing the attractant from time to time can make all the difference with your trapping success. A squirrel that turned its nose up to the supplied attractant, may instantly go for something else such as peanut butter or nut-based chocolate spreads. After changing the attractant, you should see the counter start to climb again, and after a few months it may slow down. You can then change back to the supplied hazelnut and start a rotation with the attractants that work for you. Trial and error will always be the case when working with wild animals, overtime, you will start to learn the behavioural and dietary habits and be able to meet their needs.
Food competition will always play a part in the success of any trapping campaign, and minimising the amount of other food on offer will help. For example, if you feed the garden birds and the squirrels help themselves, then removing, or at least reducing this food will disrupt their feeding routine; making the squirrels look elsewhere for food. Sometimes food competition is unavoidable e.g., when trees naturally produce fruits or nuts, and this can be tricky. There are two options to combat this problem. You can try to match the natural food that’s on offer, whether it be the actual nut from the tree, or a replica such as a nut spread. Or you can try something completely different to spike the squirrel’s curiosity.
When mounting your Goodnature A18, always mount it vertically as shown in the success guide. This ensures the trap works correctly, and the squirrels interact with the A18 as intended. Try to mount the A18 somewhere that has plenty of space either side of the trap, such as a wide tree trunk or limb. This allows the squirrels to get easy access to the trap, and they can climb around it if they are nervous to enter. Mounting the A18 on a tree trunk where a limb attaches can be a great position for the trap. It creates an area underneath the A18 where a curious squirrel can sit and investigate the trap whilst smelling the attractant inside, instead of clinging onto a vertical tree. If mounted like this try to mount the A18 so the entrance to the trap is eight to ten inches from the protruding limb.
If your catch rate has slowed with the Goodnature A18 then try changing something about your set up. Often a small adjustment can make a big impact with your trapping success, and remember it’s always trial and error until you find something that works for you.