When a snake gets into your basement or other part of your home, snake traps may seem like the right solution. Unfortunately, not all “solutions” for getting rid of an unwanted snake are equally safe, humane, or appropriate. Glue traps, in particular, are especially inhumane, as we’ll explain below. Even if you don’t plan to use one, it is worth learning how cruel they are, so you can steer others clear of using them. Then, read on for how to solve your snake problem safely and humanely.
What’s wrong with glue traps?
Glue traps immobilize animals with a substance comprised of mineral oils, resins, and synthetic rubber, with food flavoring added sometimes as an attractant. Think about what can happen with these indiscriminate and cruel traps:
- Pets can become stuck in glue traps, requiring veterinary assistance or even surgery to be freed from the trap.
- Non-target wildlife, especially snake prey such as squirrels, chipmunks and other small mammals and protected birds can become stuck in glue traps damaging feathers and even bones beyond repair.
- All animals caught in glue traps suffer fear, pain, and injury as they desperately try to disengage themselves from the sticky substance.
- Some break bones or even try to chew off limbs to free themselves.
- Animals can suffocate if the glue gets into their nostrils as they struggle.
- Traps that are not checked frequently may cause an animal’s agony to go on for hours, even days, before the animal dies of exhaustion, suffocation, dehydration, or starvation.
- Traps set outdoors can expose trapped animals to extreme weather conditions with no escape, causing death from excessive heat or cold.
- Trapped animals have no way to escape from would-be predators taking advantage of their predicament.
- Glue trap manufacturers claim that snakes caught in glue traps can be safely removed from traps for release, but fail to acknowledge that in many cases this is not possible. Skin damage from the sticky substance can be severe, and oiling a snake to free it from glue can interfere with its ability to thermo-regulate, meaning that the snake will likely die even if it is released.
What’s a better way to trap a snake?
Advertisements for glue traps are everywhere, exploiting people’s fear of snakes. But there’s no need to resort to this dangerous and cruel type of trap. You can solve your problem without causing harm to the snake, nor robbing your local ecosystem of the helpful role that the snake can play if returned unharmed into the nearby natural habitat.
If you are unsure of whether a snake is venomous, assume that it is and contact your local animal control, for help in capturing and removing the snake from your home. If you are certain that the snake in your home is non-venomous, you can help with the process by safely and humanely capturing the snake and just contacting those with training to remove it. Keep a phone number handy of someone who could come remove the snake so you can call the person as soon as you have captured the snake.
Here are three typical scenarios for safely capturing a non-venomous snake:
- If you know a snake is in the house, but you don’t know where: place a heating pad set on low on the floor of the basement or crawlspace. Place an old pillow case on the heating pad with the open-end fashioned so it is obvious to the snake, and easy to enter. The warmth and opportunity for cover will attract the snake, making capturing the snake easier for whoever comes to help. If you are capable and so desire, once the snake is in the bag, twist it closed and take the snake outdoors for release.
- If the snake is small or coiled: gently place a waste basket or bucket over the snake and put something heavy on top to keep the snake there until someone from your local animal control can come to remove and release it.
- If the snake is large or not coiled: try to confine the animal to one room or to a corner of a room using boards or boxes until someone can come to help.
Following up so another snake doesn’t get in…
Once you have had a snake removed from your home, you’ll want to quickly identify both the things that attracted the snake to your property and the openings in your home that enabled the snake to get inside. Then, quickly make changes and repairs to prevent a recurrence. See “How to Get Rid of Snakes” to learn about reducing what attracts to your home and how to take the necessary steps to keep them out.
Centers for Disease Control and Pervention info on avoiding and dealing with venomous snakebites: