I came across a salamander in the garage over the weekend. No big deal. Although I felt the little ones wasn’t a threat or a danger to anyone, I really preferred if it didn’t make it into the house. Between my wife and my dog, there would be a lot of screaming and barking when it got in the house. I also knew that I would end up spending a large part of my afternoon moving couches, shelves and crawling all over the floor in order to safely capture and release this wily critter.
As I tried to shoo it back outside, the little salamander quickly scrambled into the corner and right into the enclosed glue traps our exterminator set up in our garage. Although we’ve been using them for over a year, I never thought about how those traps indiscriminately capture and kill any insect or animal it comes across. It’s really a horrible and incredibly stressful way to die. Since they are unable to move, many animals will either starve or have a heart attack from the trauma of being trapped. There are many documented cases where mice and other animals frantically chewed their arms and legs off in order to escape their fate…only to bleed to death moments later.
I felt responsible for this little salamander. I got down on my knees and could see this little guy was completely stuck. His head, arms, leg, and tail were all cemented to this trap. No way I could pull it off. I could see his little heart beating and knew that I had to make a decision. Should I just kill it to put it out of its misery? Should I run over the trap to make it quick or use a hammer? What the heck am I thinking? It just didn’t feel right and the idea of a “mercy killing” made me sick to my stomach. I took out my phone and did a quick search for “remove animal from glue trap”. What came up was posts from PETA and other animal rights organizations demonizing the use of these heartless traps (with graphic photos). Hey PETA,thanks for making feel even worse – care to offer a SOLUTION? As I continued my search, I came across a post from a school custodian who used vegetable oil to humanely release animals from their traps. It was worth a shot!
I strolled into the kitchen and grabbed the vegetable oil spray from the cabinet. My wife was in the kitchen cooking so I gave her a smile and turned back towards the garage. At the time, I found it a little humorous that she didn’t think twice and didn’t question me about my need to use vegetable oil in the garage. Marriage is funny like that.
When I got back, I could see that the salamander’s heart rate had doubled in rate. I had to work quickly. I sprayed the vegtable oil all over the trap and waited 30 seconds. I didn’t have any other options and was praying this this would work. With my keys, I was able to carefully pry off one leg, then an arm, and in a flash the salamander was able to scamper away outside.
I was truly thankful and happy that I was able to pull that one off! (pun intended)