1. ITV Report

Tawny owl gets stuck in 'lethal' glue trap meant to trap rat

Photo: RSPCA

One of Dorset's tawny owls is the latest victim of a 'lethal' glue trap which was meant to solve a resident's rat problem.

The owl became trapped in the device, which was bought off the internet, after a woman from Wareham planted it to get rid of rats.

The woman was distraught to find the owl and called the animal charity, the RSPCA, for help.

An officer drove the owl to the West Hatch wildlife centre for treatment, but due to the extensive damage he had suffered, vets felt the most humane option was to put him to sleep.

The traps, also called 'glue boards' or 'sticky boards' are however legal.

They're made of either a sheet of plastic, cardboard or wood coated with non-drying adhesive.

The RSPCA says that according to industry codes of practice, only trained operators should use them, so retailers should not be selling them to the general public.

The charity is now urging the public to report sellers of these 'inhumane and indiscriminate' traps which can kill or severely injure small animals.


  • Never try to free an animal from a trap as there is a risk of injury to both the person and the animal
  • Instead, stay back to avoid stressing the animal
  • Call the RSPCA's emergency line on 0300 1234 999
This robin is another victim of a glue trap Credit: RSPCA

Report sellers of glue traps

  • Contact and include:
  • Name and address of the store where the traps are being sold
  • The manager or owner of the store concerned
  • The date the traps were seen on sale

“The poor tawny owl didn’t have a chance. As this sad incident demonstrates, these inhumane devices don’t discriminate between species and it’s not just wild birds that get caught. I’ve even heard of snakes and kittens getting stuck to them."

“Sadly, many animals, especially birds, have to be euthanised because the damage done by a glue trap is just too great. It is not a humane trap for any animal as they are not killed outright and they undergo prolonged periods of distress and suffering."

“We feel that the public should be made aware of the risk these horrific devices pose to animals and particularly non-target species such as birds and bats.”

– Sue Brooks, RSPCA Animal Collection Officer

“We’re opposed to the manufacture, sale and use of all glue traps because they cause unacceptable suffering and are totally indiscriminate in what they catch."

“Glue traps may seem like an effective way to catch rodents without killing them, but they come with very serious welfare issues and subject those animals unfortunate enough to get caught to horrific suffering. Even the way they’re designed to catch animals – by sticking their limbs to the board as they cross it – inflicts pain and distress."

“Once the poor animal is stuck, it will struggle to free itself, and in doing so, more and more parts of its body become trapped in the glue. In their increasing panic and desperation to escape, rats and mice have been found to tear patches of their fur out, break bones, and even gnaw their own limbs off in a bid to be free.” “After only three to five hours, trapped animals have been found exhausted and covered in their own faeces and urine. Many animals die within the first 24 hours from starvation, dehydration, exhaustion, or even suffocation – caused by the glue blocking their nasal passages. But many continue to suffer for long after that. If the animal is found while still alive many people may then try to kill them, perhaps by drowning or some other method that then causes further suffering. Other people may just dump the live animal and the trap in a rubbish bin, or they might not even check on the trap at all."

– Llewelyn Lowen, RSPCA’s scientific information officer