The Barrel Trap
Categories: HOUSEHOLD TRAPS.
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.