glue trap cat Image RSPCA

Figures highlight the indiscriminate and deadly nature of glue traps

The RSPCA has revealed that 243 glue trap incidents were reported to its cruelty line in the last five years (2015-2019). These reports included incidents with cats, garden birds, hedgehogs, squirrels and even a parrot.

Glue traps, also known as ‘glue boards’ or ‘sticky boards’, consist of a sheet of plastic, cardboard or wood coated with non-drying adhesive designed to trap rodents such as mice and rats as they cross the board.

The RSPCA opposes the manufacture, sale and use of glue-traps because of the unnecessary suffering they cause to animals.

It said that the traps are indiscriminate in which animals they trap. So they pose a danger not only to the rodents they are intended to catch, but to pets and other wildlife too.

Less than 27% of animals involved in these glue traps incidents were rodents. Emma Horton, RSPCA scientific officer, said:

“Glue traps are extremely cruel and cause unnecessary suffering to animals caught in them, whether they are the target species, like rats or mice, or a beloved pet or wild animal. Animals caught in glue traps in attempting to get free may rip out patches of fur or feathers, break bones and even gnaw through their own limbs to escape, which is just awful.

“After three to five hours animals have been reported as covered in their own faeces and urine. However, trapped animals may be left for much longer periods than that, during which time they will experience pain, distress and unacceptable suffering.

“The harsh reality is that if trapped animals are left unattended they will die slowly from dehydration, starvation or exhaustion. Unfortunately, despite all of this, the use of glue traps is not illegal and there is currently no prospect for legislation to ban them.

“However, the RSPCA urges people never to use glue traps, and to opt for humane deterrence of rats and mice which is often the only long-term solution for rodent control.

“Essential measures include limiting food availability, rodent-proof food containers and bins, decluttering, keeping storage areas tidy and blocking access holes using sealant or mouse mesh.”

Trap victims suffer “horrendous injuries”

The RSPCA received 13 reports in which cats had become stuck to a glue trap and seven incidents involving exotic pet snakes. Victims of these traps have suffered horrendous injuries, many of which have been fatal.

Around 5% of incidents involved non-target mammal species including hedgehogs, bats, squirrels and rabbits. Nearly 55% of incidents involved wild birds, amounting to 133 incidents, with the remaining incidents involving wild British snakes.

Sadly, many victims of glue traps, especially birds, have to be euthanised because the damage done is just too great. Emma said:

“Despite a code of practice which states that the distributors of these traps should not supply them to people who are not properly trained to use them, this is having little effect as these traps are still openly available to the public through hardware stores, garden centres and other retailers. The instructions accompanying the traps are often inadequate or poorly written too.”

As part of the RSPCA’s ‘Wild animals and glue traps project’ it is asking that anyone who sees glue traps on sale to the general public gets in contact at wildlife@rspca.org.uk with:

  • Name and address of the store where the traps are being sold (include postcode where possible)
  • The name of the manager or owner of the store concerned (if known) and the address if different to above
  • The date you saw the traps on sale

It will then write to the retailer and ask them to stop selling glue traps, remove all glue traps from their stock and avoid re-stocking them – to prevent the problem recurring. The project has been very successful and many stockists have taken these traps off their shelves.

For more information on humane deterrence consult the ‘living with mice and rats’ factsheet available on the RSPCA website.