Trappings of success in rat-catching quest

Shooting Times & Country|June 24, 2020

Trappings of success in rat-catching quest
Designing and making your own rat traps can be a puzzling game of ‘cat and mouse’, but Soldier Palmer relishes the lockdown challenge

Fiddling away with lockdown friendly hobbies, it has been fun to learn a little of flytying and handloading rifle ammunition. As the days dribbled past in a socially-distanced blur, I soon started to ponder the practicalities of designing and building my own traps.

Rats came into the sheds over the course of last winter and, while many of them dispersed into the countryside with the coming of spring, I was left with a residual population around the yard where chicken feed is always on offer.

To keep their numbers down, I shoot a few of them now and again with an air rifle and I always run a trap or two below my bird feeders. Finding myself with a few hours to spare, I began to explore the idea of building rat traps out of some old scrap timber and a few lengths of wire.

It was straightforward to find some plans on the internet. Many of these had been adapted from old-fashioned designs that went out of style with the arrival of steel traps, and I was encouraged to realize that some of them looked beautifully simple.

Brilliant idea

My first experiment was in building a see-saw trap. This is essentially a long wooden box that has one end slightly bigger than the other. By balancing a wooden ramp on a peg inside the box, it looks like a simple wooden tunnel with mesh nailed across one end.

If you fling some corn or breadcrumbs into the mesh end, rats climb in and trot up the ramp, little realizing that there is a pivot under their feet. As the ramp tilts like a see-saw, a catch drops down from underneath and prevents it from swinging back to its original position. Hey, presto! Your rat is caught in the mesh end and has no way of escaping.

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June 24, 2020