Monday, 10 November 2014

Do Not Try This at Home

This little hilltop village is plagued with rats again. When there weren’t many about I used to catch the odd one using a Ξυλόγατο, a ‘wooden cat’, which catches them live in a little cage; then I would deport them to some remote spot from which they were unlikely to come back to the village. ‘It’s not their fault they were born rats,’ I reasoned. (Unless of course you take the doctrines of Karma and reincarnation very seriously.)

But now it’s no more Mr Nice Guy, and I have invented an electric trap which will, I hope, kill them quickly and fairly painlessly. Here is a photograph:


(The clothes peg is there just to give an idea of scale.) I will explain how it’s made and works (if it does) so that — er… you will not try this at home:

A large-ish tin lid (I used the lid of a Feta tin) is drilled through the centre and a large-ish nail, fitted with a thick plastic sleeve to insulate it near the head, is passed through the hole. One conductor of a piece of mains cable is soldered to the head of the nail, and the other to the tin lid, which is then glued to a dry wooden base. The other end of the mains cable ends in a plug; I have kept the cable short so that one can see at once if the thing is plugged in or not; one doesn’t want to handle it when live.

To use it, you fix something-tasty-for-rats (here, a sliver of bacon) to the top (pointy end) of the nail and put the apparatus in a place frequented by rats, but making sure that no other creatures can get near it. Then you use an extension cable to plug it in to the mains. The idea is that the rat comes along, smells the bait, and finds that to reach it he must stand on the tin lid. Then, when his nose or front paws contact the vertical nail in trying to nibble the bait, he gets a blast of 220 volt mains electricity, which I hope will be enough to kill him at once. (Might not work in places, like much of America, that have a mere 110 volt supply.)

I set it up in a secluded part of the balcony yesterday evening, but have not found any electrocuted rats beside it, and the bait is intact. However the absence of other evidence suggests there were no rats about last night: they are quite intelligent, and may have seen me out on my balcony workshop making the thing.

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