25 February 2021

PestWatch: Rodents and glue boards


You’ve probably recently seen images on Facebook and Twitter of non-target species caught on glueboards. You may have closely followed the Scottish Parliament petition for a complete ban last year.

Defra is now also asking questions around the potential for restricting glue boards. With all eyes now on these control measures, we’ve asked Technical Officer Natalie Bungay to give us a glue board refresher.


It’s fair to say the vast majority of glue board misuse is perpetrated by amateur users and not professionals. However, everyone can make mistakes. And the more we refresh our knowledge, the greater potential we have to protect non-target species and our toolkits.

Although glue boards are not designed to harm the rodent physically, just to hold them in place, their use can raise valid concerns from customers and the public.

They should only be used by technicians who’ve been given the correct training and have a good knowledge of using a risk assessment. Everyone using a glue board should be adhering to the PMA Code of Best Practice on Glue Boards.

This will enable professionals to use their judgement when selecting a glue board safely and, in turn, help us protect the glue board as a tool for pest professionals.

Practical implementation

The CoBP that PMA developed consists of the critical items needed to ensure legal and professional use. You should read the full Code – but here is a refresher:

Consider the risk hierarchy

Glue boards should be a last resort in an ongoing rodent control programme. However, they may also be used to immediately reduce rodent numbers in heavily infested premises with a high risk to public health.

Trained and competent

It’s a good idea for all possible users of glue boards to have a toolbox talk as to their safe, legal and effective use. BPCA members can access an example at bpca.org.uk/toolbox-talks

Check frequently

Glue boards should be checked every 12 hours – you should plan this into your schedule accordingly. You must not ask customers to check these glue boards for you unless rigorous training and competency has been delivered to them. Always keep records of this.

Contingency plan

Always have a backup person who can check the glue boards in the event you cannot attend.

Size matters

Use the correct size rodent glue board (species-specific). Your suppliers will be able to help you select the right size. Always use a reputable supplier of professional pest control products.

Count them out, count them in

Number your glue boards and have a map of their locations available on-site so that (a) they can be located in the event of your absence and (b) you can be sure that all have been retrieved at the end of the treatment by counting them in.

Dispatch humanely as per your training

We all know this. Dispatching a rodent humanely in a private environment is pivotal professional pest management. Never underestimate how distressing this might be to a client.

Protect non-target animals

The boards must be placed to prevent any possible catches of non-target animals. It’s best to have a suitable emollient in the event of a non-target capture.

Remove glue boards at the end of the treatment

As described above.

Dispose of used glue boards safely

Accidental trapping could occur if the glue is not appropriately covered at the time of disposal.

For all of you reading this article, the very fact that you are here is testament to the commitment you have to carry out your work as professionally as you can, with all legal and safety measures in mind.

The recent history of glue boards, summarised

...most of you will have heard about recent high-level discussions and petitions about banning the use of glue boards, professionally or otherwise.

January 2017
The industry saw the relaunch of the Pest Management Alliance (PMA) Code of Best Practice (CoBP) for the Humane Use of Rodent Glue Boards.

The Code had been revisited by BPCA and its fellow Alliance members, plus Natural EnglandDefra and the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Mid 2019
In the last four years, not too much has changed (technically). However, most of you will have heard about recent high-level discussions and petitions about banning the use of glue boards, professionally or otherwise.

In 2019, the campaign group ‘Let’s Get MAD for Wildlife’ started an ongoing petition in Scotland to ban the sale and use of glue traps because of their likeliness to cause suffering to trapped rodents.

20 June 2019
The PMA was invited to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee. As members of the PMA, BPCA and its members were represented by the Association’s Technical Manager, Dee Ward-Thompson. Tom Bell of the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland and John Hope of the National Pest Technicians Association represented the sector.

When addressing the committee, our general proposal was that, as an industry, we understand the potential for the distress caused by glue boards. However, we argued that an informed and sensible decision had to be reached about how public health could still be protected if glue boards were banned.

The industry representatives addressed the committee on the training received by professionals via the RSPH Level 2 in Pest Management qualification and the CoBP developed by PMA.

A big concern for the committee was that the CoBP was only applicable to BPCA and NPTA (PMA members) and that these guidelines would not necessarily be followed, even by members.

The committee was assured that although the proactive policing of glue boards is impracticable; each association has auditing and complaints procedures to deal with any misuse.

Lastly, the committee was reminded that if the use of glue boards were to be banned in Scotland, then there would be a very high risk to public health in areas where they are needed to control problem rodent populations.

September 2020
At a Scottish Parliament petitions committee meeting on 17 September, the committee agreed that the petition to ban glue boards in Scotland was closed. Hurrah, I hear you say!

However, the conversation about the efficacy and humaneness of glue boards is far from over.

The petitions committee recommended that restrictions on glue boards be looked at by the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC), as they agreed the matter was deserving of further discussion.

Late 2020 and the future
Although parliamentary procedures were based in Scotland, in England there are already whispers that Defra will soon begin to look at how humane is the use of glue boards.
Whatever happens in one nation is likely to prick up the ears of the rest.

With news stories and social media posts of non-targets captured, all eyes are on glue boards.

BPCA has already submitted evidence on the use of glue traps for pest management to SAWC and we’re in communication with Defra on the importance of these tools for professionals.

To help keep you, your team, your company and your sector compliant, it’s vital to follow the PMA Code of Best Practice to the letter, and be extra vigilant with any glue board you choose to use.


If you’re a BPCA member and want to discuss this topic further, get in touch with the team and we’ll be happy to help.


Source: PPC102

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