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 (15)

Martha Stewart Member
February 11, 2019
I recently purchased yellow sticky traps to kill the leafminers who apparently have decided that our hedges are the perfect place to leave their larvae. While the traps are very effective, they have trapped 5 gekos who were enticed to the traps by the trapped bugs. I was able to save two of them but three got stuck on a trap that was not visible to me (and that I had forgotten about). I CRINGED when I read the advice that was given in this article to gently "pry the animal off". Having successfully freed two geckos without using anything but light olive oil and water, I hope that NOBODY FOLLOW THE ADVICE TO PRY OFF the insect or animal; you could tear a limb or worse!! Both times I freed the geckos, I first poured a little water over them to hydrate them and then followed with pouring light olive oil around (not on top of) their body where it was stuck on the tape. Each lizzard took maybe 10-15 minutes to free themselves, without me using any force. The 1st lizzard was bigger and actively worked to free himself as I poured the oil and tilted the sticky tape to make sure it covered the entire tape, with additional oil slowly poured around (not on top of) his body. The 2nd lizzard was smaller and I guess weaker or had given up. When I saw that he not working to free himself, I gently and barely touched his back with a knuckle on my finger which scared him and got him wriggling. I had to do that a couple of times while pouring more oil around him and while gently tilting the card to work the oil under him as he freed different parts of his body. I then gently sprayed water in the hedge, hoping it would help remove the oil. Hopefully the oil is not hurting them. I will need to read up on that. Whatever you do, please do not use force, no matter how gentle.
Martha Stewart Member
December 20, 2018
I hate mice, but when one was actually caught in the trap and was struggling so violently, squeaking the whole time, I felt sorry for it and took it outside. I set it on top of a planter with dirt in it, then looked up how to release a caught animal. I used gloves and a spritzer with olive oil, and a paper towel. I tried to work the oil around its belly (it started licking the oil), and dabbed the paper towel so it wouldn't re-stick itself. It was squeaking piteously. As gently as I could, I tried to free up one leg at a time, and when it was free, I laid it in the dirt and put the paper towel over it, but it was gone in a second. I'll never use glue traps again.
Martha Stewart Member
March 19, 2016
Coconut oil (slightly warmed) worked well. As I was freeing a mouse, he started to eat it. Seemed to like it quite a bit. I used a paint brush to work around the edges of wear the mouse met the glue (gently, of course). Putting a cloth over its head was a suggestion for minimizing fear.
Martha Stewart Member
June 20, 2015
I had a gecko stuck in a glue trap for roaches in the house. There was a live cockroach in the trap that the gecko was probably pursuing for lunch. The oil and water trick worked. I cut the cardboard so the gecko wouldn't get stuck again. I finally freed him outside and he went straight into our pool. The lizard sure had a lot of energy. I fished him out and put him into our garden. He'll definitely find his lunch there!
Martha Stewart Member
June 13, 2015
Great advice here, I had a small lizard trapped in a glue trap for roaches. I cut around the lizard and then placed the piece of cardboard with stuck lizard into water..making sure not to drown the animal. I covered the card in dish soap hoping it would dissolve the glue. When I then found this site, I then used the oil and q tip trick. The lizard is free from the device completely , I am not sure if he is injured, his tail came off before I got to him , but he lives.
Martha Stewart Member
May 7, 2015
I found a live gecko completely stuck in a glue trap today. Between canola oil, a Q-tip, tooth pick, toilet paper to cover the fresh glue, and patience, it worked! I was careful not to get any more oil on the gecko than necessary and was very gentle when separating it from the glue. If I had given it more time, it might have been able to separate itself. After being given some water, it was off and running. The next thing I did was throw all the other glue traps in the garbage! Great tips!
Martha Stewart Member
February 3, 2015
2 lizards- 3 - 4 inches long(geckos) stuck to sticky tape (cellotape) on a window!! They don't have thick skin!! Placed paper on the sticky tape round the geckos so they wouldn't get stuck again, I worked some Olive oil into the cellotape first between and under its mouth and then along the rest of the areas whick were stuck. Took about 5 minutes before it came off! Dropped a single layer of toilet paper on it as it rested and it absorbed all the oil! Perfect!! Thanks!
Martha Stewart Member
May 30, 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.
Martha Stewart Member
May 3, 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!
Martha Stewart Member
May 2, 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.
Martha Stewart Member
July 10, 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!)
Martha Stewart Member
September 16, 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.
Martha Stewart Member
September 16, 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.
Martha Stewart Member
September 16, 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
Martha Stewart Member
June 5, 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.