Oak Titmice Caught in Glue Trap

Oak Titmice Caught in Glue Trap

An Oak Titmouse is a small, tufted songbird. Commonly seen at birdfeeders, titmice make birdwatchers smile with their outsized attitudes and fluffed cockades.

No one would ever intend to trap and kill a tiny gray songbird like a titmouse, but this glue trap snagged two of them, pinning the struggling birds to its sticky surface, and causing horrific suffering.

The person who set this sticky trap placed it on the top of a fence in a Novato neighborhood. Undoubtedly, they intended to trap rats or mice that run along the fence, but glue traps are not only incredibly cruel (to both intended and unintended victims!) they are also indiscriminate.

Fortunately, passersby heard the panicked calls from these songbirds, spotted the trap atop the tall fence (too high for them to reach) and called the Marin Humane Officer on duty to rescue the birds and bring them to WildCare's Wildlife Hospital.

NEVER use glue traps!


Upon intake, WildCare's Medical Staff worked quickly to remove the birds from the glue trap. This is a painstaking process that must be done with great care to prevent further damage to the animals' bodies. Animals stuck to sticky traps will have their fur and feathers pulled out, and they often break bones, tear skin and suffer other injuries as they struggle. Always bring glue trap victims to WildCare or your closest wildlife care center where we can safely remove them, and give them necessary medical care as they recover.

One of the titmice had the side of his face glued to the board. The other had pulled out all but one of his tail feathers (see photo) in his frantic attempts to escape.

Once they were free, our team gave the birds medications for pain and stress and placed them in an oxygenated incubator to rest and recover.

The next day, we bathed them gently to help remove the remaining residue from their feathers. You can watch that bathing process in the video below.

Glue traps are horrible and should NEVER be used, under any circumstances!

Not only do they capture and torture nontarget animals like these little songbirds, the traps also inflict immense suffering, and a slow, lingering death on the intended victims (rodents) and nontarget animals alike.

This summer, WildCare partnered with Maya Feldman, a second-year master's student at Unity College. Maya studies Wildlife Conservation and Management, and, as part of her degree requirements, she is required to compete a Capstone Research Project. Maya chose WildCare as her partner for her Capstone Project, and her chosen topic was the impact of glue traps on wildlife.

Maya did a tremendous amount of work to access and analyze glue trap data from WildCare, and from other wildlife care centers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her research helped inform WildCare's presentation to the San Francisco Animal Commission in July, and will help us advocate for a ban on the sale and use of glue traps in San Francisco and beyond.

Maya also created the below infographics to help spread the word about the cruelty of glue traps, and the alternatives to their use.

Please feel free to share these infographics to help inform the public that these "cheap and easy" rodent control products are actually some of the most cruel and inhumane products out there!

Keep scrolling to read more about our Oak Titmouse patients and watch one of these little birds return to the wild!

Infographic PDF

The Dangers
of Using Glue Traps

Infographic PDF

Humane Alternatives to Glue Traps

Infographic PDF

Help Spread the Word Against Glue Traps

These two Oak Titmice would have died on that trap if they hadn't been spotted and rescued. Fortunately, due to their rescue and the quick intervention of our team, they both survived their ordeal.

The bird who lost his tail feathers will remain in care at WildCare in an outside aviary until his feathers regrow, but the other titmouse made a fairly rapid recovery and we released him to his home territory after less than two weeks in care.

Watch and enjoy his release video below!

How Glue Traps Actually Work

WildCare's goal has always been to stop the use of these incredibly inhumane devices by raising public awareness, and working to get them banned in San Francisco, Marin and ultimately California and beyond.

Glue traps may sound like a good idea. Advertising for these products implies that they are clean, non-toxic and effective. Many products feature cute cartoons of stuck rodents. The manufacturers imply that all you have to do is uncover the sticky plate, put it where mice and rats have been seen and somehow the problem is solved. People don't think about what happens next.

What happens next is horrific.

The glue trap doesn’t instantly kill the animal — the glue is not toxic. Instead, the animal stays stuck, dying over the course of several days from starvation, dehydration and suffocation.

WildCare admits a dozen or more animals stuck to glue traps every year, and each one is heartbreaking. Animals stuck to glue traps will rip off their own skin and fur trying to escape. They will even chew off their own limbs in a desperate attempt to get away. They inflict terrible injuries on themselves, even fracturing limbs, trying to get free. Trapped animals suffer for days as they slowly suffocate and starve.

Without exception, every person who has rushed to WildCare’s Wildlife Hospital with an animal stuck in a glue trap that they set has expressed deep regret. Each person says that, had they known how intensely the trapped animal would suffer, no matter how despised that animal may be, they never would have used the product.

What do you do if you find an animal stuck to a glue trap?

NEVER try to remove the animal on your own. Bring him immediately to WildCare or your local wildlife care center.

Call our Hotline for support 415-456-7283.

Keep the animal in a dark box (with air holes) to reduce his vision and stress levels and stop his frantic attempts to escape.

Never cut feathers, skin or limbs, and do not use oil to try to remove the sticky substance. Too often, well-intended rescuers use oil to remove the sticky glue, not realizing that oil ruins a bird's waterproofing and his ability to fly. An oiled bird will likely suffer hypothermia, or die from predation or starvation because he can't fly.

At WildCare, we always give birds ample time to preen and rebuild their waterproofing before we release them

How to Control Rodents Humanely (Click here for a PDF of this information)

People put out glue traps because they see rodents and want them gone. Rodents inside the home should be evicted and excluded, but remember that rodents outside are part of the natural environment. Traps of any variety should never be placed outside.

The best method of rodent control is prevention. Rodents tend to set up camp in our homes when food and space are made available to them. How can you get rid of them?

Remove potential rodent homes like yard debris, trash, construction waste, etc. Rodents also thrive in groundcover like ivy, so removing ivy from the yard, especially around the house, is a good solution too.

Eliminate food sources. Keep bulk food, seed, and dry pet food in metal cans with secure lids. Pick up fallen fruit. Sweep under birdfeeders and take them inside at night.

Exclude rodents from your home. Seal openings 1/4 inch or larger around the outside of your house with metal, concrete, or Stuf-fit Copper Mesh Wool, which can be found online or at hardware stores. If you would like humane, professional assistance with rodent exclusion, contact our WildCare Solutions service at 415-453-1000 x23.

Include natural rodent predators in your solution. A family of five owls can consume up to 3000 rodents in breeding season. Placing a nest box to encourage a family of owls to make your property home can be a great alternative to commercial pest control methods. Please visit The Hungry Owl Project website for more information.

Use catch-and-release traps as a safe, sanitary, and humane solution. Catch-and-release traps will allow you to remove rodents from inside your home, but you must prevent their return by sealing entrance and exit holes and removing attractants (see above).

If you exhaust all the above efforts and as a last resort decide that lethal control of rodents is necessary, please use a rat zapper or snap traps (but only for inside use).