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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 thic

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

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

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.

We can hardly recommend the addition of the stone as being an

improvement. The rat is a most notoriously shrewd and cunning animal,

and the despairing cries of his comrades must rather tend to excite

his caution and suspicion. By the first method the drowning is soon

accomplished and the rat utters no sound whereby to attract and

warn his fellows. This contrivance has been thoroughly tested and

has proved its efficacy in many households by completely ridding

the premises of the vermin.

Another excellent form of Barrel Trap is that embodying the principle

described in page (131). A circular platform should be first constructed

and hinged in the opening of the barrel This may be done by driving

a couple of small nails through the sides of the barrel into a

couple of staples inserted near the opposite edges of the platform.

The latter should be delicately weighted, as described on the above

mentioned page, and previously to setting, should be baited in a

stationary position for several days to gain the confidence of

the rats. The bait should at last be secured to the platform with

gum, and the bottom of the barrel of course filled with water, as

already described. This trap possesses the same advantages as the

foregoing. It is self-setting, and unfailing in its action.

Another method consists in half-filling the barrel with oats, and

allowing the rats to enjoy their repast there for several days.

When thus attracted to the spot, remove the oats, and pour the same

bulk of water into the barrel, sprinkling the surface thickly with

the grain. The delusion is almost perfect, as will be effectually

proven when the first rat visits the spot for his accustomed free

lunch. Down he goes with a splash, is soon drowned, and sinks to

the bottom. The next shares the same fate, and several more are

likely to be added to the list of misguided victims.

Many of the devices described throughout this work may be adapted

for domestic use to good purpose. The box-trap page 103, box-snare,

page 55, figure-four, page 107, are all suitable for the capture

of the rat; also, the examples given on pages 106, 109, 110, and


The steel-trap is often used, but should always be concealed from

view. It is a good plan to set it in a pan covered with meal, and

placed in the haunts of the rats. The trap may also be set at the

mouth of the rats' hole, and covered with a piece of dark-colored

cloth or paper. The runways between boxes, boards, and the like

offer excellent situations for the trap, which should be covered,

as before directed.

Without one precaution, however, the trap may be set in vain. Much

of the so-called shrewdness of the rat is nothing more than an

instinctive caution, through the acute sense of smell which the

animal possesses; and a trap which has secured one victim will

seldom extend its list, unless all traces of its first occupant

are thoroughly eradicated. This may be accomplished by smoking

the trap over burning paper, hens' feathers or chips, taking care

to avoid a heat so extreme as to affect the temper of the steel

springs. All rat-traps should be treated the same way, in order to

insure success, and the position and localities of setting should

be frequently changed.