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Freeing an Animal from a Glue Trap

Glue traps are a cruel and inefficient way to handle a rodent pest problem. If you ever find a wild animal stuck on a glue trap, Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates recommends calling a wildlife rehabilitator, who would be best equipped to handle the situation. If one is not available, she suggests the following procedure.

Tools and Materials

  • Heavy garden gloves
  • Vegetable oil 
  • Plastic spoon 
  • Dish soap
  • Deep plastic container or pet carrier

Glue Trap Rescue How-To 
1. Wear heavy gloves to protect yourself from bites.

2. Working in an enclosed space to prevent the freed animal from running off, put the vegetable oil on the body part stuck to the glue trap.

3. Very gently use the plastic spoon to pry the animal off. Remember: When he's free, he'll try to run away, but you're not done with him yet!

4. After you get the animal off the trap, use dish soap to remove as much of the oil as possible.

5. Rinse well, and let the animal dry in a safe place such as a deep plastic container or pet carrier. Note: If the animal's head can fit through the bars of a pet carrier, he can easily get out of it. 

6. Make sure the animal is warm, hydrated, and has had some food before releasing. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator for tips on how and where to re-release. 

7. Most importantly, get rid of any remaining glue traps. It is illegal to put glue traps where non-target wildlife could access them, and it is illegal to harm protected wildlife such as tree squirrels and birds.

Comments (8)

  • DogFather 30 May, 2014

    I caught a giant lizard (Godzilla) at my office with one of those traps. I didn't want it to die, and didn't have any kind of cooking oil on hand--but we did have a bottle of lemon oil for polishing furniture. It didn't take but a teaspoon of oil and 30 seconds to set it free. It probably worked better than cooking oil because it was so thin. The lizard didn't seem to mind it at all.

  • Creaturelover 3 May, 2014

    The vegetable oil works! Apply gently with a Q-tip around all stuck- down body parts and over the remaining exposed glue board.( Do not apply to the back of the lizard or get on the face.) No need to apply sand to glue board- lizard will not stick to oiled part. After about 5 minutes, the glue softens, and you can use the oiled Q-tip to gently help unstick the lizard. No need to wash off oil either. Let him walk on a paper towel. Works great!

  • Michael Howell 2 May, 2014

    If the glue trap is at 60 degrees cool it will be much harder to release the animal then if it is at 80 degrees warm. The trick is to heat up the glue without injury to the animal. Also, I like to put fine sand around the animal so that they don't reattach themselves during the process. I then use a smooth instrument to slowly, and I mean painfully slowly lift up and the glue will slowly began to pull loose. I used oil the first time, but I've never used it after I learned to heat it up.

  • Taterdog 10 Jul, 2013

    Hey, Ms Stewart I just want Thank YOU for the info on how to free a lizard from a glue trap. I t work just like you said, UNTILL IT CAME TO THE SOAP WATER! After about 4 minutes of fighting with this 6 inch lizard and 2 gallons of soapy water in 5 gallon bucket,He or she decided enough was enough and take off like he or she was on fire! OVERALL I think it went well. Next time I'll set up a camera!)

  • Wahoo96 16 Sep, 2012

    settle it the box and let it sleep for a couple hours. Generally at that point it will be recovered enough to release. I hope this helps if you should find yourself in this situation. It really does work.

  • Wahoo96 16 Sep, 2012

    Also, once it is free it will be very weak from all the stress and effort to get loose depending on how long it was stuck. For Anoles or small lizards, try to get them to settle on a paper towel or your hand. They usually will very quickly since their exhauted. I've had them go to sleep on my finger for ones stuck for a day. Soak a paper towl in water and slowly let it drip on the lizard. This well help rehaydrate it. Judge out weak it is. I will often get a small box and stuff it tissue.

  • Wahoo96 16 Sep, 2012

    Vegetable oil does work. I have done it several times for neighbors where Anoles have gotten stuck. You just have to go very slow. It takes about an hour to get it loose. The faster you go the more chance you have of something going wrong. Also make sure you work the head (if stuck) loose first to keep it from drowning in the oil. Tooth picks are very helpful. Slide them under it as it gets free. Be care to not puncture it. If their stuck they will not get loose on their own and death is certain

  • bbarron 5 Jun, 2012

    A small lizard got stuck on a glue trap that the exterminators put in our garage. I tried to free it by using vegetable oil on the glue trap, and it was squirming and trying to get away. I felt positive that it would be able to squirm free. Until I poured the vegetable oil onto the lizard's back. That is when it began to gasp for air. It died shortly thereafter. So please do not pour the vegetable oil onto the lizard's skin. This was heartbreaking for me to witness.