Glue Traps: FAQs

Humane Society International

  • Needlessly made to suffer. David Illig

Q: What are glue traps?

A: Glue traps, also known as glue boards, are trays coated with an extremely strong adhesive. Any animal who touches one becomes stuck and unable to escape.

Q: Do glue traps kill the animals?

A: No. The animal is immobilised but not killed outright.

Q: What happens to animals caught by a glue trap?

A: Depending on how frequently the trap is checked, animals can be stuck anywhere from a hours to days. They may be trapped on their side, or face down, by all legs or just one, and will often cry out in distress. Trapped animals struggle to free themselves and may become more and more embedded in the glue. Some rodents break bones and tear off, or even bite through, their own limbs in an attempt to free themselves. After a fruitless struggle, they may succumb to exhaustion, collapse face down in the glue, and die of suffocation when the glue lodges in their nasal passages. Most often death comes from a combination of exhaustion, dehydration, and starvation. This can take anywhere from three to 24 hours, or more.

Q: What are you supposed to do once you have caught an animal on a glue board?

A: It is the legal responsibility of the person who laid the trap to kill the animal ‘quickly and humanely’, but glue trap packets do not make this clear nor carry any instructions for how to do it. In fact, our research found that fifty per cent of people wouldn’t know what to do with a live animal attached to a trap, or would deal with it in such a way as to risk committing an offence under the UK’s Animal Welfare Act (2006) .

Q: What legislation covers the use of glue traps?

A: In the UK, the Animal Welfare Act states any animal becomes a ‘protected animal’ when it is ‘under the control of man, whether on a permanent or temporary basis’. This clearly applies to animals caught on glue traps. If a trapped animal suffers unnecessarily as a result of poor practice in the use of the trap, or through a failure to release or kill the animal in an appropriate manner, an offence of causing ‘unnecessary suffering’ may have been committed under Section 4 of the Act.

Q: How are you supposed to kill animals caught in glue traps?

A: The only method of killing an animal on a glue trap that is regarded as ‘humane’ is with one sharp blow to the head. Killing an animal with a strong blow to the head, however, requires a firm, unwavering resolve. When faced with having to do the deed, many people may find themselves too frightened, squeamish or upset to be able to do it. Forum users report divulging details of what they have done with glue-trapped animals list leaving the animal to die on the trap, drowning the animal or throwing the trap away with a live animal still attached as methods of dispatch, all of which could constitute an offence under the Animal Welfare Act.

Q: Is drowning a quick and easy option?

A: No. The government, the professional pest control industry, and scientists all agree that drowning is not humane. One experiment found the average time it takes for a rat to drown is 2.6 minutes . Setting an important legal precedent, in 2010 a man was convicted under the Animal Welfare Act of causing unnecessary suffering after he drowned a squirrel in a water butt.

Q: Do glue boards pose a risk to other animals?

A: Yes. It is an offence under the UK’s Wildlife and Countryside Act to set such glue boards in a place where wild birds could be caught, however glue traps have been known to catch non-target animals including birds and even cats.

Q: Are glue boards a risk to humans?

A: Through no fault of their own, rodents are vectors for certain diseases, which are transmitted through their urine and faeces. Panicked animals will defecate and urinate out of stress and fear, meaning anyone handling a glue board with an animal stuck to it could potentially be exposed to disease organisms. Picking up a trap with a live animal stuck to it may also lead to the person being bitten.

Q: Are glue boards an effective long-term method of rodent control?

A: These devices may be effective at catching individual, or even a few, animals but they do not provide a long-term solution. Unless the conditions that encouraged the animals to take up residence in the first place are addressed and animals humanely evacuated and prevented from returning, it is highly likely that, over time, others will simply move into the vacated territory.

Q: Can anyone buy and use glue traps?

A: Yes. They are widely available online as well as in corner shops, DIY and garden centres, hardware stores, and even some chemists and pet shops.

Q: Are glue boards legal in the UK?

A: Currently, yes. In June 2015, a YouGov poll was carried out on behalf of HSI UK, which found that 68 per cent of the public agrees they should be banned. They have already been outlawed in Ireland, New Zealand and the Australian state of Victoria. Support our call for a UK ban on the sale and use of glue traps.

Q: What should you do if you have mice in the house or rats in the garden?

A: There are non-lethal ways of dealing with unwanted rodent visitors that are not only more humane, but also far more effective in the long-term, too. Read more about humane rodent solutiions.

Q: What should you do if you find an animal stuck to a glue board?

A: It is 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. Once unstuck, even if an animal appears unharmed, s/he could be injured in ways that aren’t immediately visible, or could need treatment for dehydration or extreme exhaustion.

In all cases, please treat an animal caught on a glue board as an emergency. Here are instructions on how to help an animal caught in a glue trap.

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