March 29, 2012
Cheap, cruel, and indiscriminate
Uninvited guests of the crawling, flying, or scurrying sort are not everyone’s idea of good housemates. But what do you do with these brazen intruders? Poisons are inhumane and dangerous to use. Snap traps are indiscriminate and can close on unwary pets or children. Glue boards (also known as glue traps) might seem like a safe solution—but, in fact, they are one of the cruelest.
What are glue boards?
How do they work?
What happens to animals caught in glue boards?
Are glue boards safe for people and pets?
Can glue boards injure without killing an animal?
Are glue boards really so bad?
Who sells glue boards?
Who makes glue boards?
Should I use glue boards?
Can glue traps ever be used humanely?
Are there any regulations governing the use of glue boards?
Are glue boards used in other countries?
Can other animals get caught in glue boards?
Glue boards, also known as glue traps, are trays coated with an extremely sticky adhesive. Any animal that touches one is immediately caught and immobilized—bodily stuck to the board. Glue boards are a cheap and popular way to get rid of rodents, insects, and sometimes snakes.
The glue that fills these boards is composed of mineral oils, resins, and synthetic rubber. It is often treated with food flavoring that serves as an attractant for the animal the board is intended to catch. Glue boards will snare any animal that comes into contact with them, making them a highly indiscriminate type of trap.
If the board is small, a larger animal may be able to pull the board off, though she may lose fur or skin in the process. A smaller animal has no means to escape. Larger glue boards (models more than two feet across are sold to catch snakes) can entrap medium-sized animals, including pets.
It may take three to five days for an animal to die, perhaps even longer for a reptile. Some animals succumb to exhaustion, collapse face down in the glue, and die of suffocation when the glue lodges in their nasal passages—a process that can take anywhere from three to 24 hours. Most often death comes from a combination of exhaustion, dehydration, and starvation.
Manufacturers claim that glue boards are non-toxic, but there are causes for concern:
- Urine and feces from animals caught in glue boards can be a health concern.
- Handling a glue board in which a live animal is stuck exposes a person to the risk of being bitten.
- Pets can get stuck on glue boards.
- Animals suffer pain and stress and can harm or injure themselves trying to escape from glue boards. Some rodents have been seen biting through their own limbs while attempting to free themselves.
- Panicked animals can end up covered in their own feces and urine.
- Animals can be stuck anywhere from hours to days before being found, and have been known to cry loudly when the boards are collected.
- Animals found and released from glue boards might not survive because of the intense stress, injuries, or effects of the glue.
- Glue boards are responsible for more suffering than virtually any other wildlife control product on the market. Most animals caught in glue boards suffer slow and agonizing deaths. Glue boards are inhumane.
- Few users of glue boards can safely and humanely euthanize animals. Manufacturers generally suggest that boards be thrown in the trash, whether the animal is alive or dead. As a result, the animal continues to suffer and experience a slow death. In some cases, people will beat the animal to death with a shovel or stick.
- Unlike many devices sold to trap wild animals, manufacturers do not claim the boards provide a quick death.
Unfortunately, glue boards are readily available at grocery stores, home improvement and hardware stores, and most major retailers, as well as over the Internet. Major companies that do NOT sell glue boards include Walgreens, Rite-Aid, CVS, most drug stores, and most Supervalu stores.
Many glue boards are made by Motomco (Tomcat brand products), J.T. Eaton (Stick-Em Brand), and Victor.
No. An animal will always suffer if caught in a glue board.
In the United States, there are no regulations for the use of glue boards. There also is very little consumer education about these products, and manufacturers and retailers provide virtually no information to alert purchasers as to the concerns that exist with the use of these devices.
- In the United Kingdom, the use of glue boards is strictly regulated: only professional pest controllers may use them and only to catch rodents. They are not sold over-the-counter at retail stores. The boards must be checked at least every 24 hours and animals caught alive must be humanely killed.
- In Australia, the state of Victoria has banned the use of glue boards.
- In New Zealand, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry are working to address concerns with these traps.
Glue boards don’t discriminate. Any animal attracted by the bait—which is often treated with food flavoring—or able to walk across the glue board can become ensnared.
The glue used is composed of mineral oils, resins and synthetic rubber, so it is extremely sticky, and it will adhere to any animal who comes in contact with it. Even protected animals, such as migratory birds, can be at risk.
There are numerous reports of cats becoming stuck in glue boards and requiring veterinary help, sometimes surgery, to remove the board. Because of their agility, cats are able to access seemingly out-of-the way places, so it is dangerous to assume that a glue board can be placed safely out of the reach of cats.
One form of glue board is marketed as a way to capture snakes, with the promise that vegetable oil can be used to free the snakes once they are removed from the site where they were caught. It’s very questionable that it will be possible to free a snake without injuring it.
Glue boards are widely used to kill rodents, yet they will not eliminate rodent problems. Controlling rodent populations must focus on the removal of the cause and source. Learn about the humane approach to wildlife control and preventive measures you can take to keep wildlife out of your home.
It’s very difficult for untrained individuals to release an animal from a glue board without running the risk of inflicting further injuries, or possibly being injured themselves. Even if an animal appears unharmed, she could be injured in ways that aren’t immediately visible, or she could need treatment for dehydration or extreme exhaustion.
In all cases, please treat an animal caught on a glue board as an emergency and consult a trained professional. The animal should be safely contained and immediately transported to a local wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian.
If you cannot immediately find a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian, this release method isn’t guaranteed, but it has been tried successfully.
Supplies you will need:
- a pair of thick gloves
- a bottle of canola or other cooking oil (baby oil can also be used, though it is not as effective)
- a thick towel
Caution: Please attempt this only in the event that you cannot find a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian. Wild animals can be dangerous at any time when handled, but especially so when they are trapped and defending themselves. Please do not attempt this if you are not comfortable with the procedure described.
- Run hot water over the bottle for a couple of minutes until the oil in the bottle feels warm on your wrist, but is not hot enough to burn. It is not necessary to heat the oil if you do not have the capacity to do so.
- With your gloved hand, gently restrain the animal near the head with a towel. (Place the towel near, but not over, the animal’s head.) Keep a firm but gentle grip on the animal.
- With your other hand, gently massage the heated oil into the animal's fur, feathers or skin at the point where contact is being made with the board. It will take several minutes for the oil to start to soften the glue. Continue the massage until the animal becomes free from the glue board. (This may take some time and a great deal of patience for both of you.)
- Once you’ve removed the board, keep the animal in a warm, dark, and quiet location until a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian is available. The animal should receive treatment for being “oiled,” as oil affects an animal’s ability to regulate his body temperature. If this is not possible, then a holding period until release conditions are appropriate is the next best step.
Here are some ways you can help prevent the spread and use of glue boards:
- If your local hardware, home improvement, or grocery store sells (or uses) glue boards, inform the store manager or owner that these devices are inhumane and explain why.
- If you find a glue board advertised on a website, email the website manager and politely address humane concerns.
- If your property manager/condo association has contracted for rodent control, ask what methods the contractor will use. Raise the debate within your community to replace inhumane methods with more humane ones.