Providing Escape Ladders For Animals
Who likes spiders? Many of us have an irrational fear of these fascinating eight-legged creatures. Arachnids (the spider family) are air-breathing arthropods (an arthropod is an invertebrate animal that has an external skeleton, a segmented body and jointed legs) and are found across the world on every continent except for Antarctica. There are nearly 45,000 different types of spider and, luckily, the ones we have in the UK are relatively harmless. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t shriek with horror when we find one in the bath tub so, as a way of allowing spiders to escape the slippery sides and scuttle off out of sight, some bright spark invented the spider escape ladder.
The spider escape ladder can be bought from several online retail outlets and is a miniature ladder made from high strength polymers that is designed to be hung from one of the bath taps. However, these are hard to track down and you’ll probably pay more in postage costs than the price of this novelty item. If you have a fear of spiders and think that fitting a spider escape ladder to your bath would be a good idea, then they are easy to make yourself.
You’ll need some scissors, a ball of string and three plastic drinking straws. Stack the straws together and cut them into 3cm lengths – these will be the rungs. Cut about 3 metres of string and fold in half until the ends meet – stick the folded bit into a piece of blue tack to keep it steady. Then thread one end of the string through one of the pieces of straw and thread the other end in from the opposite direction. Now do the same with the next piece of straw, then the next and so on until your ‘ladder’ is long enough to reach the bottom of your bath tub. Tie the remaining ends together, leaving a large enough loop to fit over the tap. Voila – you now have a spider escape ladder to let the spiders climb out of your bath.
Another creature that could do with the help of a ladder from time to time is the humble toad. Recent news reports reveal that thousands of amphibians in Scotland die a slow and lingering death in roadside drains every year. A small group of amphibian enthusiasts are installing custom-built ladders at problems drains in Dundee and Carnoustie in a bid to give toads and frogs the opportunity of climbing out – this should help with the decreasing amphibian population in the area.
Pond lovers are probably well aware that a pond can present a danger to small garden mammals such as hedgehogs, especially ponds with steep sides. This means that if you have a pond or swimming pool in the garden, you will need to provide an escape ladder of some sort for these creatures. Either build a small ramp or use a length of chicken wire hung over the edge as a cheap and easy alternative.