Glue traps result in animal cruelty


Juvenile red squirrel submitted to the AVC Wildlife Service after being caught in a glue trap.

Earlier this summer three, 6 week old red squirrels were brought to the Atlantic Veterinary College Wildlife Service in PEI. They had all been found stuck on a single glue trap. The finder had tried to remove the squirrels from the glue, and as a result, the squirrels were stuck to paper towel and disposable gloves. They were coated in glue along their flanks, head, tail, and legs. Their legs were glued together therefore, they were unable to move and they appeared weak and exhausted. After providing supportive care and stabilizing the squirrels, they were cleaned with mineral oil and then washed with Dawn dish soap to remove the oil. This was done once an hour with a break in between to reduce stress until all glue and oil was safely removed. One of the squirrels needed part of its tail amputated due to trauma from the glue trap. Unfortunately, another squirrels died the next day. The squirrel that died was exhibiting neurologic signs before it died, which included: seizure-like behaviour, spasming and muscle rigidity. A necropsy was done on the squirrel by CWHC-Atlantic to determine the cause of death. After ruling out a possible infectious cause for the neurologic signs and not seeing any other obvious lesions, it was determined that the squirrel likely died from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. The squirrels would have been unable to eat or drink while stuck in the glue trap, and the stomach of the squirrel that died was found empty. Fortunately, the two surviving squirrels are still doing well.

Why glue traps are not a humane choice

Glue traps are harmful to all wildlife that are small enough to get stuck in a glue trap, not just the intended target “pest” species, such as mice. Glue traps commonly trap non-target species of wildlife such as small birds, snakes, and bats. When any animal is caught in a glue trap, it will struggle against the glue in an attempt to free itself. The death of the animal will be slow, extremely distressing, and painful. The animal will have no access to food or water and will die from dehydration or starvation. This is not considered a humane method of killing an animal due to the prolonged suffering.

A little brown myotis, an endangered bat species that was found dead as bycatch on a glue trap.

Often glue traps are left in a place for an extended period of time without checking on the traps. When the glue trap is eventually checked the animal may already have been dead for a long time, at which point the entire trap with the remains of the animal is simply thrown in the garbage. The user might be unaware of the severe suffering that took place after the animal was caught due to the prolonged death.

What are the alternatives?

Using a snap trap (recommended):

Tips for setting snap traps effectively:

Tip 1: The bait should only be placed within the marked bait area and the rest of the trap should be kept clean of any food matter. This will reduce the likelihood of the trap closing and injuring the animal, rather than instantly killing it. Baits may include peanut butter, fruit, dry cat kibble, cheese or fresh bread. If the traps are not being triggered, then changing the type of bait may entice the animal and result in success.

Tip 2: If catching mice, place snap traps at a right angle to the wall, with the trigger end almost touching the wall. Alternatively, if the traps are set parallel to the wall, set them back-to-back in pairs so that they can intercept mice coming from either direction.

Tip 3: Use a higher number of traps for a larger population.

Using a live trap

Benefits of live traps: if used correctly, the animal can be captured safely in a way that does not cause any trauma or injury.

Issues with live traps: if they are not monitored regularly, they can be harmful to the animals captured (the animals will be exposed to the elements or can experience dehydration or starvation). Additionally, relocating wildlife is often dangerous for an animal. There can be a lack of resources within the new environment, disputes with existing wildlife in the area, or the animal may be taken away from their food stores that they have worked hard to stash away before the winter.

There are still too many hardware and agri-food stores that sell glue traps when we know that there are more humane options. Please spread the word and encourage these stores to remove glue traps from store shelves to prevent further animal suffering and the death of non-target -species. Thank-you!

Submitted by Fiep de Bie and Tessa McBurney


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