Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Glue traps

Rat snake on a glue trap.
Wood rats and mice are all part of country living and so are glue traps and rat snakes.  Unfortunately occasionally a glue trap and a snake become intimately acquainted.  If the snake is found within a few days, it can usually be released without harm.

Our first experience was with a five foot rat snake curled tightly on two glue traps.  Freeing it required 15 minutes of careful peeling (tail first) while inserting little pieces of newspaper to keep it from sticking again.  Once it was free, the belly was very sticky so we powdered it with flour.  It was probably certain it was headed to the frying pan.  It didn't learn anything from this as 2 weeks later it had climbed back into the second story crawl space of our house.

Red-bellied snake- note thin collar ring
We now know a better method of freeing a snake.  This weekend we had two snakes on our glue traps.  The first was a red-bellied snake, a small snake with an impressive name, Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata.   We discussed this snake and its hot lips in a previous blog.  There was a thin ring around this specimen's neck, made up of three unconnected segments, unlike the thicker collar of a ring-neck snake.

Note the stretched skin of the neck
Three days later Barb found a black rat snake stuck to another glue trap.  It has been renamed a Texas rat snake (don't get me started on renaming) and we commonly find their skin sheds around the upstairs or in the well house of the creek house.  Their intact skin is very stretchy as you can see in the picture above.  When I picked up the trap he gaped his mouth impressively, closing it just before I got the camera focused.

The method for releasing an animal from a glue trap is quite simple.  Lay the trap on a flat surface out of doors and pour vegetable oil on the trap.  It slowly dissolves the glue as seen in this video, and the snake pulls itself off.  Ours got free before I could get the camera on it again and took off, probably expecting the flour to come next before a hot skillet.

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