Foremost in the list of domestic pests the rat stands pre-eminent, and his proverbial shrewdness and cunning render his capture often a very difficult, if not an impossible task. We subjoin, however, a few hints and suggestions of practical value, together with some perfected ideas in the shape of traps, by which the average rat may be easily outwitted and led to his destruction.
First on the list is
THE BARREL TRAP.
This most ingenious device possesses great advantages in its capabilities of securing an almost unlimited number of the vermin in quick succession. It also takes care of itself, requires no re-baiting or setting after once put in working order, and is sure death to its prisoners.
A water-tight barrel is the first thing required. Into this pour water to the depth of a foot. Next dampen a piece of very thick paper, and stretch it over the top of the barrel, tying it securely below the upper hoops. When the paper dries it will become thoroughly flat and tightened. Its surface should then be strewn with bits of cheese, etc., and the barrel so placed [Page 126] that the rats may jump upon it from some neighboring surface. As soon as the bait is gone, a fresh supply should be spread on the paper and the same operation repeated for several days, until the rats get accustomed to visit the place for their regular rations, fearlessly and without suspicion. This is “half the battle,” and the capture of the greedy victims of misplaced confidence is now an easy matter. The bait should again be spread as before and a few pieces of the cheese should be attached to the paper with gum. It is a good plan to smear parts of the paper with gum arabic, sprinkling the bait upon it. When dry, cut a cross in the middle of the paper, as seen in the illustration, and leave the barrel to take care of itself and the rats. The first one comes along, spies the tempting morsels, and with his accustomed confidence, jumps upon the paper. He suddenly finds himself in the water at the bottom of the barrel, and the paper above has closed and is ready to practice its deception on the next comer. There is not long to wait. A second victim soon tumbles in to keep company with the first. A third and a fourth soon follow, and a dozen or more [Page 127] are sometimes thus entrapped in a very short space of time. It is a most excellent and simple trap, and if properly managed, will most effectually curtail the number of rats in any pestered neighborhood.
By some, it is considered an improvement to place in the bottom of the barrel a large stone, which shall project above the water sufficiently to offer a foothold for one rat. The first victim, of course, takes possession of this retreat and on the precipitate arrival of the second a contest ensues for its occupancy. The hubbub which follows is said to attract all the rats in the neighborhood to the spot, and many are thus captured.