Victoria, Australia, is getting the new year off to a great start. The government’s updated Prevention of Cruelty to Animals regulations, issued in mid-December, ban individuals from using glue traps, those horrible adhesive-coated cardboard devices that are designed to trap, torture and eventually kill rats and mice. According to the new rules, glue traps may be used only by commercial pest-control operators and only with the approval of Victoria’s agriculture minister.
I wish lawmakers here would follow suit. Glue traps are one of the slowest, cruelest methods of killing animals that exist today and they should have been banned a long time ago.
People who live with mouse or rat companions know that these friendly and inquisitive animals are filled with personality. They love to play with one another, standing on their back legs and mock-wrestling until they wear themselves out. Both mice and rats can recognize their names and respond when called, and they quickly become attached to their human guardians. Many rats will “groom” their human companions’ hands or climb onto their shoulders to snuggle. One PETA staffer lived with a rat who liked to sleep with her in bed, tucked under the covers.
But even if you’d rather not have a mouse in your house—or a rat in your bed—please remember that these tiny beings feel joy and pain, just as we do, and deserve to be treated with compassion.
Animals who are caught in glue traps suffer immeasurably—sometimes for days. As the panicked animals struggle to free themselves, the sticky glue rips patches of fur and skin off their bodies. One New York City pest control manager told The New York Times that he had seen rats chew off their own feet to escape from glue traps. “Lucky” animals get their noses and mouths stuck in the glue and suffocate, but that, too, can stretch over many agonizing hours. Glue-trap manufacturers generally instruct consumers to just toss out trapped animals along with the traps—regardless of whether the animals are alive or dead.
Glue traps also do not discriminate. PETA regularly receives calls from distraught people who have found birds, squirrels, snakes and even their own animal companions hopelessly stuck in these traps. They often try in vain to release the animals, but it’s difficult and sometimes impossible, and their efforts can cause even more pain and distress.
Not only is trapping and killing animals cruel, it’s also ineffective. When a portion of their population is killed off, more mice and rats from surrounding areas will simply move in to occupy the vacant habitat. Effective methods of rodent control do not target the animals themselves but rather the conditions that attract animals to certain areas in the first place.
Start by putting out cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, which you can find at any health food store (rodents are not fans of peppermint), and by ensuring that your home isn’t a rodent buffet. Keep food sealed in chew-proof containers and do the same with garbage, pet food and birdseed. Then seal up cracks in walls, holes in foundations and spaces around doors and windows. Mice can squeeze through holes as small as a dime. Once your house is rodent-proofed, use a humane live trap, available at most hardware stores, to catch any remaining mice or rats and escort them to a field or wooded area away from your home.
Even if your hometown doesn’t follow Victoria’s progressive lead by banning glue traps, you can make a difference. Simply resolve to use humane methods of evicting unwanted houseguests whenever a problem arises. Remember, for every conflict, there is always a kind solution—you just have to seek it out.
Daphna Nachminovitch is the vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) Cruelty Investigations Department, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.HelpingAnimals.com.