I Saved a Lizard from a Sticky Wrapper
Even when we don’t mean to, glue trap accidents can still happen from the most unlikely of sources, as I was to learn today.
Glue Traps aren’t the only hazard for animals. Any sticky paper is.
Even if we don’t mean to, glue accidents can still happen from the most unlikely of sources though, as I was to learn today.
I’d gone to the kitchen to get some water when I saw two plastic labels from food containers on the ground with a little house lizard stuck on one.
When we recycle, we remove the labels and for some reason, these ones fell sticky face up onto the ground from the bin.
Any sticky paper with its adhesive face up is a hazard.
This is especially so in the kitchen and especially so, next to the bin where lizards like to rummage.
The lizard wasn’t moving but the sticky paper wasn’t there on the ground a couple of hours ago. I gingerly picked up the wrapper. It was mildly sticky but not glue trap sticky.
First, I raced to Google for a solution. None were very consoling, written from the points of view of people not terribly afraid of lizards. I like them in the home and respect them but I confess I’m a little scared of touching them.
So I called our local wildlife rescue ACRES which has a 24-hour rescue number. The man who picked up the phone was patient and kind.
He understood the issue and walked me through the steps of freeing the lizard very gently and kindly in a soothing voice which he said works even for glue traps. I was confident and reassured. Much more so than after reading solutions online.
He told me to call him back if I had any problems but said that any cooking oil, even extra virgin olive oil would help, along with a non-sharp object to gently push the lizard off the sticky wrapper.
Gently push the lizard off the sticky wrapper!!
I had to get that close??
Okay, I could do this. I couldn’t let this little lizard die.
I thanked the nice man and set to work.
First, I took an open bottle of olive oil and found a long-handled plastic spoon (important if you’re scared, which I was).
Then I placed the sticky paper with the lizard over a clean bin with a plastic bag lining it, angling it so its head wouldn’t get oil on it.
I began to pour the olive oil (thank goodness for extendable nozzles) around the lizard, avoiding its face. It moved.
And I screamed.
Okay, it is alive.
Let’s try again.
I poured more and I saw the little guy’s hands start to move. It realized it could escape. But its legs and torso were still stuck. It had long let go of its tail.
I kept pouring and used the spoon to give it something to pull itself out of. It scrambled onto the spoon but realized it was still stuck. I kept pouring on this side and the other side, around its body.
We repeated this cycle over and over.
Suddenly, its legs started to move and it wiggled its belly. We were almost there.
Now I was cheering it on. Come on, little guy, you can do this! I kept saying. You’re almost there!
I offered my spoon again, bending closer and no longer afraid. We were in this together and we both wanted it to live.
Now I could see an end game. Only its torso was stuck.
Then the paper slipped and my spoon lifted, dropping the lizard back onto the oily paper. It looked a little stunned but lifted its head to try again.
I moved the paper higher onto the plastic bag in the bin where I could have a better handle of the spoon and the oil bottle.
The lizard wiggled, knowing it was almost free.
I poured more oil around its torso: left, right, under, and swirled the paper around a bit.
Then, I placed the spoon under it again to let it climb on. It climbed on. So cute, I thought. What a will it had to live. I would not stop until it was free.
It wiggled its torso again, working with me. And suddenly it was loose, still lying on the now-oily paper.
It looked left as if to head that way.
Quickly, I poured oil over that part so that it wouldn’t get stuck again if it crawled there. But it didn’t. It was tired.
I offered the spoon and balanced the paper on the rim of the bin where the plastic bag offered a ledge of sorts.
It clambered off and so quickly down onto the ground, resting there for a minute while I took a quick photo.
For a moment, I wondered if it was too exhausted to move but it raced under the table where it stopped for a minute again. I snapped another photo, happy it was running!
Then it scurried into the darkness and let out a lizard squawk. Maybe that was its way of saying thank you.
From outside, another lizard with a deeper voice responded with a squawk. Could it be it was saying, “I am free!” And its friend responded, “That’s awesome!”
I felt exhausted but happy and relieved. I looked at the clock. It was 20 minutes and half a bottle of olive oil. I saved a life today. It was a good feeling.
Hoping it wasn’t too late, I texted the man from ACRES to tell him the little guy was free and thanked him for his help. He said Anytime :).
I came back to my room and typed out this story, also as a reminder of 3 things:
1. Animals can get stuck on ANY sticky surface.
2. You don’t need food on that surface for them to wander onto it and get stuck.
3. If you have any sticky paper or labels, fold the sticky sides together then throw them in the bin so animals don’t get accidentally stuck in them.
And very quickly as a recap:
How to remove an animal stuck on glue paper
- Gather a bottle of vegetable oil, an unsharp tool like a spoon or butter knife, and about 20–30 minutes of your time.
- Place the sticky paper on a surface you don’t mind getting oily.
- Start pouring oil, little bit by little bit around the trapped animal.
- Use the tool to very gently push it free. Very gently.
- Keep pouring and pushing.
- It will get free.
If you are scared, like I was, know that the feeling will go away. You’re saving a life here. Your fear will take a backseat as mine did and your energy will be focused on freeing the trapped animal.
That thank you was everything to me.