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Title: All about Ferrets and Rats - A Complete History of Ferrets, Rats, and Rat Extermination from Personal Experiences and Study. Also a Practical Hand-Book on the Ferret.
Author: Isaacsen, Adolph
Language: English
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ALL ABOUT FERRETS AND RATS

A Complete History of Ferrets, Rats, and Rat Extermination
from Personal Experiences and Study.
Also
A Practical Hand-Book on the Ferret.

by

"SURE POP."
(ADOLPH ISAACSEN.)

Second Edition.



PRICE, TWENTY-FIVE CENTS.

New York:
Adolph Isaacsen, Publisher,
No. 92 Fulton Street.

Entered, according to act of Congress, in the year 1890,
By Adolph Isaacsen,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



CONTENTS.

                                                                 PAGE.

 INTRODUCTORY                                                        5


 THE FERRET.

      I. What a Ferret Is                                            7

     II. Character and Appearance                                    9

    III. Rat Hunting                                                11

     IV. Food                                                       14

      V. Ferret Houses                                              15

     VI. Diseases                                                   16

    VII. Hardiness                                                  17

   VIII. Breeding and Training                                      19

     IX. Strength and Bite                                          20

      X. Handling                                                   21

     XI. With Cats and Dogs                                         21

    XII. Advantages as a Rat Exterminator                           22

   XIII. Miscellaneous                                              23


 THE RAT.

      I. The Rat Family and its Varieties                           27

     II. Rat History                                                27

    III. The King's Own Rat-Catcher                                 29

     IV. Rat Society, Cannibalism, and Friendship                   30

      V. Multiplying Powers                                         33

     VI. Unabridged Bill of Fare                                    34

    VII. Ferocity                                                   35

   VIII. Rats in Breweries, Slaughter Houses, Markets,
           Stables, and Barn-yards                                  36

     IX. Rats as Wine Drinkers                                      38

      X. Destructiveness                                            39

     XI. Rats as Food                                               40

    XII. Rat Nests                                                  43

   XIII. The Rat's Musical Talents and Eyesight                     45

    XVI. Rats as Moralists                                          46

     XV. Rats in the Good Old Days, and the Modern Rat
           Superstitions                                            47

    XVI. Review of the Rat, and Conclusion                          49


 RAT EXTERMINATION.

      I. Traps                                                      51

     II. Poisons                                                    54

    III. Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets                                    56

     IV. Human Rat Catchers                                         56


 THE ORIGIN OF THE FERRET, with hints to Darwin.                    57



INTRODUCTORY.


In the following pages we have given a complete review of the
ever-important rat exterminating subject, from a practical man's point
of view. The essay on the Ferret has been exhaustively treated, is a
special feature of the work, and will be found of great value to the
rat-ridden part of the community, as well as to the fancier and
naturalist. "The Rat" has been handled from a universal point of view,
and the book has been prepared from the writer's practical notes during
his thirty years' study of Rats and Rat Extermination.



THE FERRET.

[Illustration]


I.--WHAT A FERRET IS.

Our dictionaries say that "ferret" as a verb active means to search out
carefully. This is certainly an important function of the animal, but,
as it belongs to the Musteline or flesh-eating weasel family, it has
also inherited these animals' boldness and savageness, though tempered
and exercised in a very useful direction, i. e., of killing off the
most bothersome and numerous of our vermin for us. It is rather a
well-known family, the one to which the ferret belongs, including such
animals as the sable, which furnishes the highly-prized fur, the skunk,
with its not as greatly valued perfume, the ermine, the color of which
is likened to the driven snow and whose dress forms the badge of
royalty, the weasel, from which artists obtain their finest brushes, the
marten, the badger, and the otter. The shape of these animals, the
characteristics being strongly marked in the ferret, is long, slender,
and serpentine (snake-like and winding), their teeth are very sharp, the
muzzle and legs short. Their average food is rats, rabbits, and birds.
Members of this class are found in all climates and parts of the earth.

It is necessary to state, primarily, that there is no such thing as a
wild ferret; it is domesticated in the same degree as a cat or a dog.
The wild animal from which the ferret is bred is the weasel, just as the
dog is originally of wolf extraction, and the cat of the same class as
the tiger or lion. The ferret is also interbred with the different
species of the musteline tribe, such as the mink, marten, polecat, and
fitch. These are nevertheless all weasels in the same way that terriers,
black and tans, Newfoundlands, and poodles all belong to the family of
dogs. The ferret's origin has been traced by some to Spain, by others
again to the northwestern part of Africa, and by still different writers
as far away from us as Egypt, but it was first used authentically for
ratting and rabbiting in Great Britain, where it is most highly prized,
its merits understood, and where almost every one is as familiar with it
as he is with the nature of his house cat. The public here in America is
yet but indifferently acquainted with the ferret. At an exhibition of
ferrets made by the writer at Madison Square Garden there was about one
out of every fifteen persons that knew the name of the animal at all,
and the ferrets were alternately designated as skunks, weasels,
guinea-pigs, raccoons, monkeys, woodchucks, kittens, puppies, squirrels,
rabbits, chipmunks, rats (an animal for which they are commonly
mistaken), hares, martens, otters, small kangaroos, muskrats, beavers,
seals, and, ridiculous as it may seem, small bears. The American race of
ferrets has been bred to a high degree of intelligence, as the proper
medium of wildness in the hunt and docility to its keeper has been
obtained principally through the efforts of the present writer. This,
however, has only been brought about after a great deal of close study
and experiment in cross breeding, until now the American animal is
greatly preferable to its more sluggish and vicious English brother.


II.--CHARACTER AND APPEARANCE.

Every individual ferret has a character and distinct look of its own,
although there are some ugly, scarred, and bony specimens with game legs
and glass eyes, still the ferret, when in good condition, is a pretty
little animal, with soft fur and kittenish ways, and can be handled and
fondled after you have become mutually acquainted, the same as a cat. It
can never be made as trustworthy as a dog, because it does not possess
as much intelligence. The general colors are white, yellow, and a
mixture of black, brown, gray, and tan, varied with gray and white
patches over and under the neck and body. _The tint runs according to
the predominance of either mink, marten, fitch, or polecat blood._ The
ferret is essentially a _useful_ animal, and is not valued for its good
looks, but the purely colored, pink-eyed, white ferret, with its plump
form and beautiful, glossy coat of a creamy shade, does certainly not
present an ungainly appearance. The dark ones are a sprightly company,
too, with their friendly, sparkling black eyes and social nature. There
is no standard size--there are large and small breeds, the age having
nothing to do with its inches. Some ferrets never get to be bigger than
a size beyond a dock rat, while I have had others as large as a full
grown cat. There are ferrets more valuable as hunters than others on
account of their wiry forms, their age, experience, and intelligence. I
have small, homely ferrets, which persons not understanding ferret
peculiarities would pick out as the most miserable and stupid of a lot,
but which in reality are choice hunting stock. There is no preference
for small or large ferrets, as they are both good for different
purposes. Ferrets are cleanly animals both in appearance and in their
habits. Their jumping and climbing powers are limited. There is a
curious thing about the ferret that reminds us of its kinsmanship with
the gentle-tempered skunk, for _when it is teased or aggravated_
(showing this also by bristling up the hair of its tail) it emits a
pungent odor from a gland it has underneath the tail. This only happens
in extreme cases, otherwise it is peaceful enough except toward its
natural prey. _Different lots of ferrets, strangers to each other, will
not agree, and should not be put together, as there is a risk of a
deadly battle._ It is a pleasant enough thing to watch a number of
healthy ferrets at their antics. On the writer's breeding grounds, where
the pens are always kept neatly painted and the sawdust carefully
leveled on the floor, making it look like a lawn in yellow, they
generally huddle up in a snug heap, presenting a confused jumble of
heads, tails, blinking eyes, and indistinguishable masses of fur. This
is during the daytime, after they have been fed. Toward dusk, or when
they are hungry again, they disentangle themselves from the bunch, one
by one, and after they have properly yawned and stretched themselves
they are very lively. They frisk and gambol about like lambs in a
pasture, without the odd, long-legged appearance of the lamb, but they
make up for this by humping up their backs like small dromedaries. They
get to tumbling over one another in a comic, clown-like way, they run,
galop, trot, and hop, and sit erect on their haunches. This latter
action they perform in expectation of a mouse, a special delicacy with
them, though but a mouthful, from the keepers leaning over the pens
above. Upon the whole they seem to be enjoying life immensely,
presenting quite a study of animal contentment and happiness.


III.--RAT HUNTING.

When the word rat is mentioned in connection with the ferret, our
pacific scene is changed to one of war and bloodshed. The savage
instincts of the animal are then aroused, and the rat itself knows, when
it has caught the ferret's scent, that its time has come. There are no
two animals more deadly enemies than these, the ferret being constructed
in such a way that it is best adapted to hunt the rat in the rat's own
haunts. Wherever a rat can go a ferret can go, because the latter's body
is as flexible as rubber, and it can squeeze itself up, draw itself
out, and flatten its limbs into a likeness of a New England buckwheat
cake, as if there wasn't a bone in its body. The weasels, and nearly all
wild animals of this division, after killing the prey suck the blood,
eat the brain, leave the rest of the body untouched, and then proceed to
annihilate the next victim, repeating the operation. Here is where the
difference between the ferret and the other animals of its tribe comes
in, for it does not content itself with brain food and such ethereal
substances, but devours the whole carcass with a fine relish, not even
leaving the tail or the skin. It bolts the bones and everything else
thereto appertaining. It is rather an appalling experience for the first
time to hear the hungry ferret's teeth go crunch, crunch, as they meet
in the neck of some fat rodent. This sound bears a resemblance to a
cowboy chewing radishes. A very hungry ferret would commence to devour
the rat before it had thoroughly made its exit into the sweet
subsequently. In using ferrets to clear a house of rats, they should be
allowed to nose through the building during the night with the same
freedom accorded a domestic animal. During the day they are kept in the
pen. The reason a ferret should be hunted with in the night is that it
sees better then, and that it is instinctively better fitted for
hunting. The rats also become more venturesome at this time. When the
ferrets are to be hunted with, feed them slightly, as feeding blunts
their hunting capabilities and makes them worthless. After a good feed a
ferret will sleep harder than any other domestic animal. Sometimes you
will find a ferret so hard asleep that you can take him up, shake him,
and then put him down again without waking him. If you are inexperienced
in the ways of the ferret, you will imagine you have a corpse on your
hands. But the corpse will in a short time open its eyes, shake itself,
wag its tail, and then trot around with the others. When a ferret sleeps
he will let his companions tramp all over his head and body without
allowing himself to be disturbed in the least. When they have been fed
too well they will sleep and be of no further use. If these over-fed
ferrets are in a pen and you put rats in for them to kill, they will not
wake up even if the rats crawl all over them, although the rodents are
scared into fits and are trying to get away with all their might and
main. A hungry ferret around a house will go scenting around as hunting
dogs do, to discover any trace or hiding-place of his natural prey. This
in itself is enough to drive all the rats to Jericho and make them stay
there as long as the ferrets are kept around, for the rodents have an
acute bodily fear of these prowling detectives. A ferret's being bitten
by a rat happens only in extreme cases, but sometimes in cellars and
other places that are swarming with rats, ferrets that have first been
put in have to contend with great odds, and come out with some bruises.
_Therefore if even a good, old hunting ferret should be bitten by a rat,
he should not be used until the wound is perfectly healed again, even if
it should take two or three weeks._ The ferret is very peculiar in this
respect, and if this rule is not observed he may be spoiled as a hunter
forever afterwards. The ferrets hunt downward, and if put on the upper
or top floors in the evening they will turn up in the morning down in
the cellar driving the rats before them. They should be kept in a dry
place, and they rapidly get to know their pens, returning to them and
waiting to be put in when through hunting. With a moderate amount of
attention they will thrive and prosper in their work of extermination.


IV.--FOOD.

Ferrets should always be anxious for their meals. Rats are good ferret
food; but never feed dead rats, as you run the risk of the rats having
been previously poisoned, this also transmitting itself to the ferrets.
If there are plenty of rats in the place the ferrets will be able to do
their own choice marketing; otherwise, when not hunting, feed them
either crackers and milk or bread and milk, with a pan of water always
at hand in warm weather. Raw meat can be given them two or three times a
week, but never feed liver or salt meat. When milk is not handy use
water instead. For a pair of ferrets use a shallow pan for their food,
the pan to be as large as an ordinary saucer. Once a day is enough to
feed them. When you wish to hunt your ferrets at night feed them in the
morning, and they will be in the proper hunting condition when night
comes. Particular relishes are chicken heads, duck heads, rabbit heads,
and sparrows. Dilute the milk occasionally, and change off with the
bread or crackers soaked in water instead of milk. Besides this you can
feed your ferrets the same as you do your cat, with the exception above
mentioned. Ferrets enjoy their meals heartily--they grunt and smack
their lips with much satisfaction when fed; particularly so when
feasting off a rat, as there is nothing they enjoy more than a good,
big, healthy one--turning the rodent inside out and ploughing out the
interior with great exactness.


V.--FERRET HOUSES.

Ferrets must have plenty of good air, as they cannot stand being boxed
up closely for a great length of time without getting diseased. I have,
since the first edition of this book was printed, invented a model
ferret-cage, in which I keep my stock in perfect health and in prime
condition. I now make a specialty of manufacturing this contrivance, and
have dubbed it "The Sure Pop Ferret Cage." It is of a solid build, but
of a convenient size for expressage to any point. It is divided into two
sections: (A) for sleeping and (B) for exercise and feeding; connected
by an aperture just big enough for a ferret to get through. A
(sleeping-room) is one-fourth the size of B and is kept dark, except
that it has two small wire windows at each side which furnish perfect
ventilation. B (for exercise and feeding) is constructed of wire on the
top and the sides around a solid frame; the same flooring serving the
two apartments. There is a wide door on the end of the larger section
and also one on the roof of the smaller, so that the ferrets can be
conveniently taken out or handled and the cage cleaned at any time. In
winter it is best to keep the smaller division full of hay; it keeps the
ferrets warm and clean. In the larger part you can use sawdust or earth;
and another big advantage I wish to call attention to is the peculiar
manner in which the connecting aperture is placed, so that the ferrets
cannot carry out the hay, but can conveniently get from one apartment to
the other. The price at which I am now disposing of these cages ($5.00)
is merely nominal, but I prefer to have my stock housed in a comfortable
and correct manner, as the ferrets will then do better work and get
attached to their new master a great deal quicker than if their quarters
were neglected. The above cage is, as I have said, of a very convenient
size, and can be stored in the cellar of a house--if the cellar is
dry--or can be placed in a barn or stable, or, if needs be, can be put
into service as an independent out-of-door house. For the latter use the
larger apartment should be boarded up, so that the ferrets are not
completely exposed to the rough weather; it should also be kept three or
four inches above the ground. If sawdust is used, it should be cleaned
out at least every other day and replaced with a fresh supply. The hay
need not be changed for one week.


VI.--DISEASES.

On the topic of ferret diseases, all the advice I can give is of a
preventive, rather than of a curative, nature. My experience has been
that, when a ferret is sick, it is the wisest policy to kill it
immediately, as in all my practice I have never cured a sick ferret yet.
Of course there are numerous remedies advocated by persons who claim to
"know it all"; but experiment with these is simply a waste of time and
material. The common diseases of ferrets are foot-rot, distemper,
diphtheria, and influenza. Foot-rot is caused by dirt and neglect, and
is the most common, dangerous, and devastating. It makes the feet swell
out to twice their natural size, and become spongy; the nose and snout
get dirty; the eyes commence to run, become perceptibly weaker, and
then close. The tail also changes to a sandy and gravelly texture.
Distemper is only a case of foot-rot aggravated. In influenza the nose
runs violently, and there is the same affection of the eyes, accompanied
by incessant sneezing. Diphtheria is a throat trouble, indicated by
swelling of the neck, much heavy coughing, and nearly the same other
accompaniments as the above diseases. To prevent disease, cleanliness
and moderation are the simple antidotes: this is not such a hard thing
to accomplish, as the ferret is a strong animal for its size, and very
cleanly itself. Ferrets are sometimes run down by overwork in hunting,
and get to be dull and sluggish; but they will soon regain their vigor,
by letting them rest for awhile, and giving them plenty of food. Pure
air, fresh, raw, bloody meat, and good milk, will soon bring the ferrets
back to their natural state inside of a week.

Ferrets are sometimes troubled with fleas of a large size, that use the
animals up greatly if they are not checked immediately. A little Sure
Pop Insect Powder rubbed in dry with the hand will settle the insects
effectively in a very short time.


VII.--HARDINESS.

There are numerous remarkable examples of ferret toughness on record.
Not long since, the following came under my notice: A couple of ferrets
were used in a warehouse, and one of them, a handsome, dark-coated,
mink-bred animal, accidently fell through a hatchway from the fourth
story. He was brought to me in a horrible condition, the hinder part of
the body being entirely smashed out of shape, and completely paralyzed.
The poor brute was forced to drag along its useless trunk with the help
of its forefeet only. I thought myself the animal was assuredly done
for; but in a fortnight it had quite recovered the use of its limbs,
which also assumed their natural form and function. It was again enabled
to hop about as well as the rest; in fact, no trace of its former
complete demolition remained. Another noteworthy example was this: A
friend of mine, M---- was out rabbit-hunting with a companion carrying
his ferret, which had been muzzled, in his pocket, a common way of
transporting it. After he had bagged half a dozen rabbits in one place,
he secured his ferret again, and went on walking some distance through a
snowed-over part of the woods, chatting with his friend. He suddenly
felt in his pocket, and found his ferret had got away. They retraced
their steps, carefully searching for two or three hours high and low,
but without success. M---- went home, satisfied his ferret was lost.
Eight days afterwards, coming over the same ground, he saw a shadowy,
thin spot of dirty fur under a ridge, which, after he had more closely
examined, turned out to be the long-lost animal. It was completely
exhausted and reduced to a skeleton, but still showed some signs of
life. It had probably crawled in under some small opening in a ridge at
the time of its being dropped, and so had escaped M----'s attention. As
he found his ferret with the muzzle still on, it could not have procured
either food or drink. The poor brute must have suffered agonies, showing
_what horrible cruelty the practice of muzzling is_. M---- took his
ferret home, fed it well, and inside of a month it was entirely
restored, and just as good a ferret, in every respect, as ever. If
ferrets are together, and are kept strictly without food for a length of
time, they will devour one another quite readily, in lieu of better
fodder.


VIII.--BREEDING AND TRAINING.

Ferrets are rather difficult animals to raise in numbers--it requires a
large amount of patience, great care, and scrupulous neatness, although
when full grown they are very hardy. The writer's ferret breeding
grounds consist of special farms, on which are erected numbers of small
barn-like structures, each furnished inside with a dozen pens, and an
aisle running through the middle. Every pen is as large as a horse's
stall, the boarding and other accessories are kept clean by vigorous
scrubbing, the sawdust on the floor is changed once a day, and the pens
and the ferrets are otherwise attended by experienced ferret men. Here
the ferrets are taught to do their work of killing and hunting by
practical experiment on live rats. Although it is in the nature of
ferrets to hunt and kill rats, the same as it is for a bird to fly, yet
we find a little extra course of training is necessary in both cases.

It will not do to hunt with ferrets until they are at least seven months
old. Ferrets breed but once a year, and have from four to nine at a
litter on the average--it is very rarely they have two litters a year.
They are trained to the whistle by feeding them every time this
instrument is used, so that after awhile they promptly respond. The
ferret is ruled through his stomach. The time of the ferret's getting in
heat is in March, nine weeks after which they breed. The male invariably
takes hold of the female as if he were going to strangle her. The young
are born without hair, and must, therefore, be kept warm. They have
their eyes open in thirty days, and should be fed on as much milk as
they want.[A] The male should be removed from the female before the
littering, the symptoms of which are exactly like a cat or a dog, or
else he will destroy the entire brood. Care should be taken to have the
female well supplied with food during the period of copulation, or else
she may casually munch up the young herself, and the writer has lost
many a pretty litter by this little habit of the unnatural mother. As in
crops, there are years for raising ferrets which are more fortunate than
others, some seasons having a fatal effect on the young ones.

[A] They ought not to be handled before they are one month old.


IX.--STRENGTH AND BITE.

The great strength of the ferret is in the teeth, neck, and forefeet.
One ferret can hold up eight times its own weight with its teeth. Twenty
or thirty ferrets when hungry will fasten their teeth in a piece of meat
and can be picked up in this way and swung around without ever causing
them to think of letting go. They will hang to an object which they have
been provoked against with a persistence which would make a Bill Sykes
bull-dog blush with shame. The only way to loosen their hold is to grasp
them firmly around the neck with the pressure on the skull, and to
shove them _towards_ the object, not _from_ it, for if you try the
latter way you can pull for a day and a night without any perceptible
result on the ferret.

The bite of a ferret is not dangerous; they will only bite a human being
out of mistake, because they don't see well in the daytime. They imagine
you are kindly holding down some bit of meat for them to chew at, and
they don't bite because they are at all viciously inclined towards you.
Of course you don't want to tease, annoy, or step on them, or you may
find them loaded. If a ferret bites you, he will let go immediately, and
you and the ferret both will quickly realize the mistake.


X.--HANDLING.

Ferrets should at first be handled by the back of the neck. The tail is
the natural handle for lifting up a ferret, in the same degree that the
ears are of a rabbit. The ferret should only be _lifted_ by the tail and
should be handled by the back of the neck. After a wild ferret has been
handled this way for some time he will get to be very tame and you can
handle him in any way. He will get so that he will hop up in his pen at
your approach and want you to play with and caress him, although it is
never advisable to give him your perfect confidence, such as putting him
to your face, etc.


XI.--WITH CATS AND DOGS.

Ferrets are easily kept with cats and dogs, and after a little training
and discipline they will hunt together, the ferret being generally used
to drive out the rats from the holes in a barn, etc., and the dog doing
the killing. When they are first introduced to each other there will be
a little sparring, _and the dog's master must strictly forbid his dog to
touch the ferret or else the dog may kill it at the first wrestle_, but
after the novelty of each other's appearance has worn off they will lie
down together in one corner and be the best of friends, as I have
witnessed scores of times. The writer has cats and ferrets on his farm
that regularly feed and play together. Ferrets should not be kept in a
place with sick dogs or cats, as the disease will surely be transmitted
to them.


XII.--THE FERRET'S ADVANTAGES AS A RAT EXTERMINATOR.

Ferrets have been brought forward, chiefly by the labors of the present
writer, to be regarded within the last few years as domestic animals.
There is certainly, yet, a great degree of prejudice against the
ferret--a natural result of ignorance of its ways; but we firmly believe
that the more it comes in contact with man, and is bred in captivity,
the more readily it will be put by him in the division of common
domestic animals, and he will, furthermore, find it his best remedy in
rat extermination, making the latter worthies as scarce as the ordinary
rat has made its black-complexioned cousin.

For this latter purpose the ferret's most apparent advantages are as
follows:

    _First._ There is nothing a rat is more afraid of, by nature, than a
    ferret, so that the rats are driven off by acute bodily fear.

    _Second._ The body of the ferret, and its small head also, is
    remarkably flexible, thus enabling it to get into and drive out the
    vermin from their holes and breeding-places.

    _Third._ When through hunting they do not stray off, but return to
    their pens, and wait there till they are put in.

    _Fourth._ They devour the entire carcass of the rat, after killing
    it, and do not leave the slightest trace of it around.

    _Fifth._ The ferrets can be trained to obey the whistle somewhat
    like a dog, and, by attaching a bell to their necks, they can always
    be traced to whatever part of the building they may stray.

    _Sixth._ After they get acquainted, and have been handled for some
    time, they become affectionate pets, and can be fondled and caressed
    freely.

    _Seventh._ They are very cleanly, peaceful, and nondestructive in
    other ways.


XIII.--MISCELLANEOUS.

Ferrets are extensively used to drive out rabbits from their holes,
although the laws are very stringent against this sport. For this
purpose they are generally muzzled, which is a cruel and unnecessary
practice. All that is required of the ferret is to drive and scare
out--the rabbit being then caught or shot. A bell around the ferret's
neck will scare off the rabbit immediately, because the ferret is slow,
and the rabbit will hear him coming from a distance. A properly trained
and handled ferret needs no harness of any kind. Never muzzle a ferret
for rats, as he may be savagely attacked where the rats are thick, and
then be unable to defend himself. Ferrets are muzzled by tying their
jaws, so that they can not bite, with waxed cords, etc. There are also
muzzles like those made for dogs, only fitted to the ferret's size.

A writer in a certain New York paper has put the ferrets to a peculiar
use, on account of their flexible bodies. The following is quoted from a
supposititious interview with the present writer: "A gentleman purchased
a ferret, and became greatly attached to it. To show me how well he had
trained him since the purchase, he called Pet (as he had dubbed him) to
his side, and, dropping his pencil behind a large immovable desk, where
it would be almost impossible to get it again, he merely said, "Get it!"
In an instant the ferret was off, and soon back again with the pencil in
his mouth. The gentleman said that he had been of great service to him
in that way, and he recommended them to all old ladies who are in the
habit of losing thimbles and spectacles in out-of-the-way nooks and
holes." We can not help remarking, that this certainly imputes a trifle
too much intelligence to the animal.

There seems to be a curious superstition regarding the ferret amongst
the lower classes of people from England, Ireland, and Scotland, to the
effect that the ferret possesses healing properties. I have numbers of
people come to me with pans of milk, part of which they want the ferrets
to lap up, reserving the other half for medicine. They firmly believe
this an infallible cure for whooping-cough in children. On some days so
many people come for this purpose, with milk in all sorts of vessels,
that the ferrets would certainly have burst their buttons, if they had
any, in trying to do justice to all of it. The people wait their turn
patiently, and come any day I appoint to have the ferrets drink some of
the milk. I have heard many miraculous accounts from them of Mrs.
So-and-so's baby who was down "that sick" with the whooping-cough, and
the "doctors givin' her up, and she comin' to directly by a drop o' the
milk the blessed little craythurs had been lappin' at; and it's the only
rale rimedy yer can put intire faith in."

The following is an extract from a Kansas newspaper: "An old Englishman
is now traveling through the country with two pair of ferrets, with
which he is making money by killing prairie-dogs. He has his pets in a
wire cage, and, going to a ranch where there are indications of
prairie-dogs, he offers to clean out the dog-town for 1 cent per dog.
The price appears so very small, that the ranchman does not hesitate to
accept the offer. One ferret will clean out from twenty to fifty dogs
before he tires out, or, rather, before he gets so full of blood of his
victims that he can't work well. When one is tired out, a fresh one is
put into service; and so on until the town is rid of dogs."

[Illustration]



THE RAT.


I.--THE RAT FAMILY AND ITS VARIETIES.

The cynical, and, as he is generally acknowledged, villainous old rat,
is a near kinsman of as innocent and peaceful a community as the
squirrels, rabbits, and hares are, at least the natural histories unite
in telling us that they all belong to the Rodentia or gnawing animal
family. The three great subdivisions of rat are the Black, Brown and
Water varieties. With the latter we have nothing to do, as it is an
innocent field animal that never goes near man or his works, and is not
properly one of the "whiskered vermin race" or rat breed. The dock rats
belong to the Brown brigade.


II.--RAT HISTORY.

Regarding the rat's history and antecedents we are informed in some
books on this subject, very positively, that the common or Brown rat was
brought from Norway, while other naturalists insist with a pertinacity
peculiar to the tribe that the animal originally comes from Persia and
India. We feel justified in believing with the majority that this kind
of vermin has its origin in Asia, that venerable continent of cholera,
Heathen-Chinee, and Old Testament. But again, whatsoever the different
opinions may be, it is certainly found that this species of rodent is
distributed over every country on the face of the earth in a very near
equal way, because every ship that leaves port takes in its cargo of
rats just as regularly as it does its cargo of provisions and
merchandise, and thus it can be readily seen how this delicate tender
blossom is carefully though unwittingly transplanted. In this way the
Brown rat, which is now the strongly predominant rat party, was brought
to New York and America in 1775 from England, which would doubtless give
great pleasure to that part of the population with an Anglo-maniac
tendency and would probably reconcile them much more to this sect of
vermin. In Europe the latter made their appearance in 1730, and then
spread out to every inhabitable country. "For men may come and men may
go, but I go on forever" would at the first glance seem to be the case
with the rat tribe as well as with the musical brooklet of Tennyson, yet
the history of the rat nations is like unto the history of man--one clan
waging a long and bitter war of conquest and extermination against the
other until hardly any trace of the conquered but once mighty and
ambitious race remains. The Black or Indigenous rat had things all its
own way in North America as well as through the rest of the civilized
earth, before the Brown species' sweeping invasion, the former having
been entirely subdued and are now very scarce. It was easy enough for
the brown rats to do this, because they were bigger, bolder, and more
ferocious. Their multiplying powers, too, were sixteen times greater
than the vanquished nation whose origin is shrouded in the darkest and
most complete mystery.

The writer has on several occasions observed a dark colored rat on
vessels coming from Brazil and other States of South and Central America
that was unlike any specimen of this animal he had remembered ever
seeing before. It was of a deep bluish tint, had an abnormally long
tail, very large ears, and sharp, fiery, bead-like eyes, that looked in
the dark like small electric lamps. Its agility and desperate
nervousness was something marvelous, and its bump of destructiveness was
largely developed also. This is probably a stray representative from
some struggling colony of the dethroned black rat nation. Small numbers
of them are occasionally brought to our own shores by these vessels. The
rats generally escape from the ships, whereupon, as soon as the vessel
is about to sail away again, their places are promptly filled by their
brown brethren. Then the desolate black rats stray to the sewers of the
city, where they are speedily overwhelmed and dispatched by members of
the other faction, their inveterate foes and conquerors.


III.--THE KING'S OWN RAT CATCHER.

Although this black rat is inferior to the brown tribe in strength,
size, and breeding powers, yet it must have been formidable also, for it
was formerly thought necessary in England to institute the queer court
position of rat catcher to the King. This was probably the case in other
countries, too, but no records of it have been kept. According to an old
historian this English rat catcher was a very dignified and mysterious
individual, generally with gypsy blood in his veins, as it was thought
necessary for him to know something of the Dark Science to properly
perform his duties. He was attired in a rich manner, wearing a scarlet
coat embroidered with yellow worsted on which were designed figures of
rats and mice destroying wheatsheaves. He was looked at with much awe
by the populace, as he turned out with a stately tread and great pomp,
carrying a heavy staff with the insignia of his exalted office, whenever
he took part in the royal pageants. This he did regularly, and it is
also stated that he had an attendant, who never took part in the
processions but who did the main part of the work, always with as much
mystery as possible, upon the munificent stipend of tuppence a month,
while the gentleman in the red coat superintended the job and received
the glory--differing radically in this respect from the rat catchers of
the present day.


IV.--RAT SOCIETY, CANNIBALISM, AND FRIENDSHIP.

Animals of nearly all kinds are fond of each other's society, and in
their natural wild state are always found in herds. The city rats live
in tribes or colonies of from twenty-five to sixty individuals, in the
winter more and in the summer less. In the cold weather, when they are
idle or at rest, they lie in one heap for the purpose of mutually
heating each other. They change from the bottom to the top and alternate
their positions very frequently, so as to give each one an opportunity
to enjoy the warmer place at the bottom. The warmer the locality the
less individuals there are in a heap. These rats live peacefully enough
amongst themselves when they have enough to eat, but the minute they are
apprised of a slightly vacant feeling in the region of the stomach they
become the most savage of animals.

The mother rat is very careful and fussy about her young until they get
to a certain age. When they have passed this period, however, and the
mother should, on some bright day, feel a trifle hungry, she would as
readily devour her offspring as the children would make a meal of her,
thus returning the compliment neatly. Individual cases of this kind
occur also amongst the canine family, where dog-bitches have dined
royally on a majority of their newly born pups. This tends to show that
man is not the only intelligent animal who occasionally uses his
fellow's carcass for fodder. Cannibalism, in the rat's case, takes place
generally when they are unable to get any other diet, but then they will
devour one another with gusto, skin, tail, bones, feathers, and all; the
stronger killing the weaker and sucking the blood first. Hot blood is
one of their greatest delicacies. The rats are born blind and naked, and
their bodies are at this time of their life in a wobbly and unformed
state. In this condition they would probably not be looked on by
outsiders as things of beauty or delicate morsels, yet they are eagerly
sought after by the old male rat to furnish him with his Sunday dinner
dessert. The male pigs, cats, ferrets, and rabbits also indulge in the
same pastime. This is made still more of a highly prized food for the
old man rat by its rarity, as the mother will fight to protect her young
with the boldness and savageness of a lioness defending her cubs. She
will even go to the pathetic extent of chewing up her young ones herself
rather than let them fall into the hands of her oppressor. The rats have
an arrangement amongst them similar to the old Greek health law of
killing off all sickly infants, that is, they eat their dead and infirm.
This accounts for the fact that rats are never found at large sick,
diseased, or disabled. Although, as a rule, it isn't considered the
correct thing with us to dine or breakfast from our departed
fathers-in-law or uncles, yet in the present case, peculiar as it may
seem, it is the only admirable trait about the rat. It forms a safeguard
to man against their increase, yet we must add, in a hurry, that the
check put upon their growth by their cannibalism is lamentably small
when compared to their enormous multiplying powers, which surpass those
of any other animal.

The writer had a curious experience in regard to the rat's sociability
and companionship. He had once confined in a cage a company of twelve
big slaughter-house rats and happened to neglect feeding them one
evening. The next morning he was rather astonished to find a well
polished backbone, a stubby remnant of tail, and only eleven other rats,
all huddled up together compactly, in the congregation. He then gave
them some food to stop them from further feeding on each other, but they
rudely refused this, and he was again surprised to see ten of the number
make a combined attack, that looked as if agreed upon, upon one
unfortunate but especially large sized rat. The latter tried desperately
enough to hold his own against such fearful odds, with much horrible
squealing and screaming among them and a great deal of severe
scratching, dashing, and tumbling against the tin-lined sides and the
wire roofing of the cage. In a few seconds they were ranged all around
in a circle feeding ravenously on the remains of the brave but ill-fated
warrior. The writer has noticed, in numerous instances where numbers of
rats were kept together in a cage, that they would on some occasions,
just as the humor seemed to strike them, prefer their relatives and
brethren as food to anything else. It did not matter, either, what
other form of diet or delicacy had been set before them.


V.--MULTIPLYING POWERS.

Great quantities of rats are trapped and poisoned and hunted down by all
animals larger than themselves; they are driven out of their homes, and
systematically destroyed by paid vermin-destroyers; still all this seems
to make but very slight impression on their numbers as they constantly
pop up serenely from below just as if "Sure Pop" and rat-traps had only
a mythic existence in fairy tales. They multiply prodigiously, the
female breeding on the average about eight times a year, and having as
many as fourteen at a litter, though in some instances this record has
been badly beaten. A writer on this subject calculates that from a
single pair of New York rats, living in moderately good circumstances,
there will spring in three years' time a snug, happy little family of
650,000 rodents, including mother, father, children, grandchildren,
great-grandchildren, etc., and making due allowance for emergencies,
accidents, and for a few hundred of them having been overpowered and
used for food by the rest of this most worshipful company. He allows an
average of eight young at a litter, half male and half female, the young
ones having a litter at six months old. One cause of their being so
prolific is that they flourish and breed as well on an abundance of
swill, refuse, and garbage, as if they were carefully and tenderly fed
three times a day.


VI.--THE RAT'S UNABRIDGED BILL OF FARE.

Next to the ostrich, the rat possesses the most capacious and
accommodating kind of stomach. He will swallow anything, digestible
or otherwise, although he can appreciate good things with much
intelligence, when he comes across them. His bill of fare ranges all the
way up from tallow-candles and shingles to roast-partridge and old
boots. Rats are broadly omnivorous, and their food varies widely with
their situation. They will eat soap, from the harsh and strong smelling
washerwoman's kind to the richly perfumed and tinted toilet variety.
With a vast and admirable toleration, they will feed upon bacon,
sponges, ham, roots, flour, pork, roast-fowl, from boarding-house
chicken to the microscopic quail; they will consume confectionery,
potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, other vegetables, fruit of every
description, from huckleberries to watermelons, raw, boiled, broiled, or
fried fish, suet, eggs, bread, mutton, cheese, and butter. Also raw,
cooked, boiled, broiled, fried, smoked, or roast-beef, and they swallow
with keen relish wines of all brands and vintages, beer, whisky, gin,
and brandy, and evince a loving fondness for all grades of oil, from the
dirtiest, coarsest whale's blubber to the finest olive. The rat is
verily a most cosmopolitan glutton, and enjoys the favorite dishes of
the various nations with much the same hearty appreciation throughout,
hugely delighting himself with frog's hind-legs in France, pickled
herrings in Holland, potatoes roasted on the hearth in Ireland,
pumpernickel and sourkrout in Germany, anise-seed, garlic, and olla
podrida in Spain, birds'-nest, sharks' fins, and meat furnished by the
rat's own brethren in China, caviare and candles with the Russians,
roast-beef and ale in England, and pork-and-beans and peanuts with the
people of a certain division of North America.

Drawing the line at a particular point in the rats' endeavors to obtain
"belly timber," as Sancho puts it, is an obsolete custom with them, for
they devour putrid carrion, and human flesh, too, comes within this
category, a further account of which will be found in the course of the
next chapter.


VII.--FEROCITY.

The rat is dangerously ferocious when aroused, and is capable of being
wrought up to a pitch of white heat fury. If he should be caught, his
tail cut, his hair burnt, or if he should be wounded in any other way,
but not sufficiently to weaken his system or momentary capacity, and he
is then let loose, he will, through sheer madness and pure "cussedness,"
hunt up, fight, and overpower his brethren individually, or else put
them to flight in a body, without much ado. In fact, when he is worked
up to this state, he wouldn't hesitate for a moment to attack an entire
army of rats, or of other far bigger and more terrible objects. In many
cases like this, rats have often obligingly rid premises of their own
kind. If the tortured or maimed rat is in a weak condition afterwards,
he will be promptly overpowered by the other members of the rat
community upon general principles.

We are often regaled in the newspapers with "brutally frank" accounts of
people leaving their babies alone at home, and, upon returning, finding
them frightfully lacerated by rats, slowly and reluctantly escaping from
the scene. In like manner, they have become bold enough to attack
solitary invalids in houses, who had work enough to defend themselves
from, and to drive off, these ferocious little beasts, driven on by
hunger like the true wolves of the wilderness.

Living or dead, man is bound to furnish food for the rat; and in
church-yards, where, ghoul-like, they choose the night as their time of
appearing, they demolish the skeletons, littering the ground with
remnants of the white, shining bones.


VIII.--RATS IN BREWERIES, SLAUGHTER-HOUSES, MARKETS, STABLES, AND
BARN-YARDS.

The writer, in the course of his many rat-hunting expeditions, has had
occasion to observe the rats in the lower cellars of many large New York
breweries, where beer was about all they could get to live on. The sage
old rodents, I observed, that had become accustomed to this diet--and
had noted scientifically its queer effects in large doses on the rat
system--indulged in a moderate way, and became aged, good-natured, and
fat, like some jovial, bald-headed old merchant of the human type. The
young rats, however, that had been recruited from the neighboring
houses, would proceed immediately to paint a limited part of the town
quite crimson with much hilariousness and quantities of beer, after
which they could be killed or caught without much bother, lying around
through the passage-ways in a beastly intoxicated state. Here they lay,
squealing faintly, and without concern, on their backs. We may find in
this, if we care to look for it, a really valuable temperance lesson;
for, when the rodents imbibed with moderation, they were of a strong and
healthy race, and greatly looked up to in the gnawing community; but,
when they quaffed too heavily, they became poets, and cared not for the
affairs of this small earth, whereupon they were ignobly killed with a
club by some base son of man. In slaughter-houses, they become so
unconscious after having gorged themselves with a hearty dinner of hot
blood and other warm offal, that hundreds of them could be picked up and
massacred with but very faint resistance on the otherwise cautious rat's
part.

In old markets, rats yet do valuable service as sanitary inspectors, by
demolishing the amount of refuse and garbage; but in other channels they
are the very demons of destruction. They are especially fond of cheese;
and in the cheese-dealers' stalls they go at their work of procuring
this in a highly artistic way. They drill holes through the flooring
beneath the largest cheeses, and then work their way up and eat into
them, consuming pounds upon pounds in a single night. The men sometimes
find a large cheese with the interior scooped entirely out, leaving the
rind, in hollow mockery, simply an empty, worthless shell. In the
butchers' shops, the rats are connoisseurs in the quality of meat,
always seeking out the primest portions of the beef in preference to any
others.

Around barn-yards they destroy the grain, oats, and every species of
fowl, from the smallest to the largest specimen. In going at their work
of destruction, they spring upon the neck of the victims, and pierce and
bite it through with their teeth. They then suck the blood first, or
else eat into the flesh as they would into a cheese, often contenting
themselves with the blood and leaving the carcass. In stables the
harness and the axle grease, even, suffice to make a square meal for
them in default of better fodder; they also make the horses frantic by
fiendishly gnawing at their hoofs.


IX.--RATS AS WINE DRINKERS.

In a neat and cleverly written little book on Spain, it is observed that
"in the wine cellars the bungs in the heads of the butts containing
sweet wines had little square pieces of tin nailed over them. This was
to protect them from the rats who otherwise get upon the edge of the
butt, and lick the sweet wine which oozes through, then begin to nibble
the bung, and go on, if they are let alone, till out rushes the wine in
a stream." The effects of the rats' ingenuity seems to bear rather a
kind intention toward his two-legged brother, described in the
following: "This happened not long ago to a large _tonel_ of the finest
Pedro Jimenez, which, was stored with others in the ground-floor of a
house, the owner of which was away in Seville, with the key, which he
would trust to no one, in his pocket. One morning out came the bung,
long nibbled by rats, and, about three hundred gallons of the wine ran
out into the gutter. It was a queer sight, people rushing to dip it up
with any vessel that came to hand, some of them presently using mops,
and the small boys, who had found it was sweet, and lapped up as much as
they could get at, lying around the street in various stages of
intoxication," after the manner of our frisky friends, the joyous rats
of the brewery cellars.


X.--DESTRUCTIVENESS.

The rat's bite, and especially that of old rats, is very poisonous, and
its teeth are finely adapted for severe, quick, sharp, and deep cutting.
It forms an urgent natural necessity for them, owing to the peculiar
structure and growth of their teeth, to keep them incessantly working.
The idea never comes to the rats of a possible breaking off of their
tusks in attacking such flexible objects as bricks or lead, and the
writer has seen cases in which the rats cheerfully went to work gnawing
off corners of bricks and granite, in a persistent manner, so that they
could make an opening large enough for their admission into a house.
Nothing is exempt from their merciless teeth. They mutilate the woodwork
on the valuable drawing-room chair just as readily as they would the
dingiest, most plebeian sort of washtub, and they make sad havoc of
upholstery of all kinds. They seem to have an especially lasting grudge
against the transmission of knowledge, for books are gnawed and
mutilated by them in immense quantities. They gnaw paper, from legal
documents of the highest value (and many an important writing has been
hopelessly destroyed by their agency), to the most worthless treatise on
"Four-Fingered Mike; or, The Terror of Hoboken." Our clothing, shoes,
hat-gear, etc., is turned out by the rats in a pitifully dilapidated
condition. They also eat into lead pipes for the purpose of obtaining
water, which it is hard for them to do without, although we have found
that they can be without food for a much greater length of time. When
the rats are pressed for drink on board ship, they lay low in the
day-time, but in the evening they stealthily come out on the deck from
the hold, in a long row, single file, in order to sip the moisture from
the rigging.

By examining the Fire Marshal's Report of New York City from 1868 to
1882, we learn that rats have been the cause of 79 fires during 12
years, making an average of five fires a year. This is on account of the
rats' strong propensity for nibbling matches. In the same report is a
warning against the loose and careless manner in which matches are left
in pantries and closets infested by rats and mice with a fondness for
this kind of diet. The great attraction for the rodents in the matches
is the phosphorus, which these useful articles contain in abundance, and
which the rats are able to scent out from a great distance.


XI.--RATS AS FOOD.

If you were lunching on something similar in taste to roast partridge,
and some one told you, after you had finished, that it was only domestic
house rat, your interior machinery would probably be disarranged--to
such an extent is the bare mention of the word rat repugnant to our
senses and stomachs.

In the course of an experiment, the writer has cooked and boiled rats,
and has found that their meat is of a very tender quality, and of a
white, inviting appearance, withal, although he never went the length of
partaking of it. Our objection to the rat's serving as food is too
deeply rooted and profound to be removed, although there are a great
many animals whose flesh forms our staple food that have habits much
dirtier, and who do not nearly live upon as cleanly a diet (and this is
a broad statement) as our despised house rat. From this eulogium we
gently but firmly exclude the rat gentry of the sewers. We must give the
Chinese credit for having overcome the effete European prejudice against
the rat as food. Seemingly, it is the most highly prized dish that the
sons of leprosy have in their bill of fare. The crews of the American
and English vessels lying in Canton harbor used to amuse themselves
greatly in catching a rat, and then holding the kicking animal by the
tail so that the Celestials in the junks alongside could get a good view
of it. The Mongolians would then get very much excited, utter
exclamations of a gobbling, clucking sound, and as soon as the
spluttering, frightened rat was flung from the ship an uproarious
scramble followed, that made them look like so many monkeys quarreling
over a cocoanut.

A writer tell us, in a well-written magazine article, that he has lived
fifteen years in China, and has had "experience at public banquets,
social dinners, and ordinary meals, in company with all classes of
people, but was exceedingly surprised at never having seen cat, dog, or
rat served up in any form whatsoever." We are sorry the gentleman
neglects to state _whether he'd know the difference_. The odds are
twenty to one that he wouldn't; because, as he knows himself, the
Chinese are excellent cooks, and can prepare a good meal from what in
other countries would be thought offal. He makes the admission,
however, that "there are some peculiar people in China, as well as
elsewhere--credulous and superstitious--some of whom believe that the
flesh of dogs, cats, and rats, possesses medicinal properties. For
instance, some silly women believe that the flesh of rats restores the
hair; some believe that dog meat and cat meat renews the blood, and
quacks often prescribe it. What the Chinese really do eat does not vary
much from that found on American tables; but there are certain dishes
not on our programmes that are considered delicacies by everybody--such
as edible bird's-nests and sharks' fins." To this we can add
conscientiously, and upon weighty private authority--fried split rat,
stewed dog, and curried cat with rice. In this place it would be
appropriate of us to say something of the peculiarities of Chinese
food--of the way the dogs and cats are carefully bred for the palates of
the Chinese epicures; how these former animals are invitingly exposed
for sale in the marketplaces; and we would willingly describe the
methods of the dog and cat breeders, and the manner of curing and
cooking the rats--but want of space forbids. We will merely state that
there are many cases in which rats were eaten much nearer home than
China; but, as the persons undertaking the experiment were slowly
starving to death, and would have quickly eaten each other rather than
accept the jolly alternative of dying by hunger, these instances are not
of a remarkable nature, and are consequently unworthy of note in the
present annals.


XII.--RAT NESTS.

Rats are impartial in their building sites--they have contentedly built
their nests in the wretched and filthy peasant's hovel and in the most
palatial and luxurious residences of kings, and a human habitation must
indeed be in the extreme of squalor, dirt and decay where they are not
found sprawling. Shakespeare pithily expresses this in the "Tempest:"

        "In few they hurried us aboard a bark,
    Bore us some leagues to sea, where they prepar'd
    A rotten carcass of a boat, not rigg'd,
    Nor tackle, sail nor mast--_the very rats_
    Instinctively had quit it."

The rat living in a house prefers warm, soft quarters, and invariably
gets within comfortable distances of stoves, ranges, heaters,
steam-pipes, etc. This is a very dangerous habit, because his nest is
always constructed of inflammable materials. At times he also lugs
matches into it, and then if the steam-pipes should become overheated,
the matches blaze up and spread the flames. We have read in the
newspapers of a great many fires afterwards found to have been caused in
this way. The rat's nest is made of black and colored silk, of linen,
woolen and cotton materials, bits of canvas, dirty rags, fur, silk
stockings, and antique lace of much value jumbled together with string
and crumpled paper. In one instance we knew of a rat to make use of a
building material more out of the ordinary run than these, as it
consisted simply of fifteen hundred dollars in greenbacks that had been
put under the carpet of a room for safe keeping, and which was
afterwards found in mutilated fragments, thatched together, forming this
queer old mercenary rat's abode. The rat uses his nest too as a
storehouse, and here he lays by quantities of edibles for a rainy day.
The writer came across a nest, once upon a time, the sole building
materials of which were those undergarments, both masculine and
feminine, fashioned so slenderly, but which we dare not mention. This
nest contained a peck or so of beans, though in the house where it was
built beans had not been stored nor used, the writer found out, for at
least three months. Out of doors or in fields the rats' nests are built
of hay, leaves, shavings, and wool. The rat is, besides his other
praiseworthy qualities, an inveterate old thief, and in decorating his
dwelling picturesquely he becomes quite lavish, as gold rings, diamonds,
jewels of every value, and gold and silver watches, that had been
missed, were found in rat nests. Here they were generally discovered set
off with much taste by a piece of salt bag. In one rat's nest I found a
set of false teeth in perfect condition. The rat could not have wanted
to use them himself, because they were several sizes too big for him. He
probably wanted them for a tool-box or jewel-case or some other equally
useful object. The writer remembers reading in some odd book of a
good-natured person who had discovered a family of young rats in a piano
that stood in a room for some time unfrequented. They had made
themselves so much at home in the interior of the instrument that the
owner was unwilling to disturb them by playing upon it. The female rat
probably wanted to get her young to some safe place away from her liege
lord, and had succeeded in gnawing up through the leg of the piano. She
had brought with her, in which to build a nest, a dirty striped
stocking big enough to have belonged to some distinguished Dime Museum
fat lady.


XIII.--THE RAT'S MUSICAL TALENTS AND EYESIGHT.

Rats love sweet, soft, melodious tones, and a great many experiments
have been made in taming rats thereby, but only with indifferent success
upon the sharp-witted rodents, in spite of all the pretty stories to
the contrary in the reading-books. So high is the rat's musical
understanding rated, that there is a proverb among the people that rats
immediately disappear from the house as soon as a young lady begins
taking lessons on the piano. A mouth-harmonica seems to be the rat's
favorite musical instrument, and its gentle strains exert the most power
over him, far more than the tones of any other instrument. If the music
be soft, mild, and pathetic, the rat will listen and come very near, for
he is a very susceptible sort of beast, and, if closely observed, tears
of sorrow, or of sad and tender reminiscence, will be seen coursing
slowly down his cheeks. But if, on the contrary, the music be harsh,
shrill, and discordant, such as would most likely be ground out by
beginners, or if it proceed from a brass instrument, or drum, or if it
be occasioned by a shotgun report, or explosion, it may drive the
impressionable animals from places where they had been used to frequent.
If, however, one is unsuccessful in trying to scare off the rats by
noise at the first inning, a repetition will be of no avail.

The rat will take up his nest in all and any out-of-the way places, as
he shuns the light and lives wholly in the dark and gloom. This is the
cause of his poor sight; he can hardly see at all in the daytime, and in
the night a little better. If you should meet with a rat by day, looking
square in your face, depend upon it he isn't able to see you at all, in
spite of the pretty gleam in his black eyes. His minutely acute ears,
however, do him good service instead of eyes, so that he has very little
occasion to miss the latter at all.

The rat is generally very timid, and extremely nervous, the slightest
disturbance repelling him and making him shrink into obscurity and
shadow. Yet it is his great peculiarity that he can adapt himself to any
extremity of climate or description of place; he is found making himself
at home in hotels, factories, public gardens, and other haunts of loud
and constant noise, bustle, and confusion.


XIV.--RATS AS MORALISTS.

The Lord in making the rats is imputed to have done so to have them
serve as scavengers for his wandering, wasteful tribes of children. But
in our own day, as the majority of us do not wander, nor have wandered
continually for the last two or three thousand years or so, and have
slapped up many supposedly permanent villages like London, New York, or
Paris, the restless, ambitious rat took into his head not to limit
himself to such dirty kind of work exclusively. He then formed the
resolution, and further carried out the purposes of his creator by
taking upon himself the philosophic office of keeping man's pride in
check. This he did by literally chipping a large proportion of the gilt
off man's earthy grandeur, and by destroying his works and belongings at
every possible opportunity, with right hearty good-will and much
perseverance. "Therefore," says a writer, "whatever man does, rat always
takes a share in the proceedings. Whether it be building a ship,
erecting a church, digging a grave, plowing a field, storing a pantry,
taking a journey, or planting a distant colony, rat is sure to have
something to do in the matter; man and his gear can no more get
transplanted from place to place without him, than without the ghost in
the wagon that 'flitted too'."


XV.--RATS IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS, AND THE MODERN RAT SUPERSTITIONS.

In the merry days of old, rats were regarded as undisputed signs of
witchcraft, and even scholars acknowledged this--at least they were
compelled to, by the help of a blazing pile of faggots, or similar mild
means known only to the good old times. What caused this belief among
the people was, that an animal appearing to them so small should be the
cause of such intense and continual annoyance to them. There was no
barrier through which the rat could not effect its way to get at a
certain object, thanks to its wonderful powers of gnawing. It was so
omnivorous, ferocious, and destructive, that the people endowed the rat
with superhuman qualities, and regarded it as a true child of the Devil,
put upon this earth to be always pestering them. In regard to the rat's
superhuman qualities, it appears to have certainly displayed more
reason and acuteness, fighting in the daily battle of life, than any one
of these thick-skulled humans could lay claim to. It was looked on with
a great and most unreasonable aversion and loathing, born of
superstition and fear, and which we find vehemently expressed in all the
ancient books on the subject. This feeling, we cannot help believing, is
not dead yet, according to the astounding anecdotes brought forth and
widely copied in a great many of our American newspapers. The facts and
data given in these learned articles about the rat's size, weight, and
habits, in general, would make his hair stand on end with horror if he
were to read them. As a matter of fact, the ordinary brown rat, which we
find everywhere near man, is a pretty black-eyed, softly robed, and
delicately constructed little animal; and although his fur may be
plainly colored, like the plumage of the sparrow amongst birds, yet it
is of the finest texture, and, when possible, is always kept
scrupulously clean. In solitary captivity he is continually sitting on
his haunches, cleaning his fur like a cat; and the writer has found, by
actual experiment, the weight of twelve full-grown, well-fed New York
city rats to amount to exactly twelve and a half pounds.

Formerly, in European countries, there was a general belief in the
existence of strange and mysterious relations between this great slimy
monster and the high-priests of witchcraft and sorcery. It was thought
that this was the animal best adapted to carry out the diabolical plots
of his Satanic majesty. In one part of Norway, the peasants used
devoutly to hold a fast day once a year, trusting thereby to get rid of
the pests of rats and mice. They had a Latin exorcism which they used
on these occasions, beginning with the words, "Exerciso nos pestiferos,
vermes mures," etc. Anything a rat left its trace upon was an omen of
ill to the owner; and when by any chance a rat was ever seen on a cow's
back the poor animal was doomed to pine slowly to death in consequence.
In Ireland it was believed that premises could be rid of rats by
reciting a rhyme over their holes, which was commonly called "rhyming
rats to death."


XVI.--REVIEW OF THE RAT, AND CONCLUSION.

But since these times the people have succeeded in getting rid of a
great quantity of superstition attached to the subject. It has also been
learned gradually that the actions of the rat are prompted much more by
natural than by diabolical instinct. However timorous and innocent
looking we have found the rat to be upon impartial observation, yet his
is a case of wolf in sheep's clothing, for he is the one of the whole
brute creation that does the most undermining damage in every way to the
homes, workshops, counting-rooms, store-houses and cultivated fields and
acres of man. The rat is also at times his very ferocious personal
enemy. The rat's code of morals will be found rather deficient, as we
have tried to explain in the preceding rambling remarks. In fact, there
are condensed in this small animal all the vices of the animal world. We
have shown him in the pleasant light of a cannibal briefly making an end
of all family ties by transferring his relatives down his stomach. We
have traced a faint outline of his great food greediness and his
intemperance in strong drink, which is pretty near up to the human
standard. We have pictured his strong liking for the hot blood of man
and his utterly lacking an organ of veneration, digging up man's bones
from their final resting-place to have them serve as food.

The strongest weapon the rats have against man, ranking even above their
wonderfully constructed teeth, are their prodigious multiplying powers,
"and," says Richardson, "if the rats were suffered to increase in
numbers, unchecked, the time would not be far distant when the entire
globe would but suffice to furnish food for their rapacious appetites to
the exclusion of the human race." The only way man can hold his own
against their mighty ravages and prevent his whole social organization
from being undermined by them, is to wage a steady and unrelenting war,
by the help of his own arts and the animals specially assigned by nature
to do service for him as police, against the most bloodthirsty, cruel,
and acute of enemies.



RAT EXTERMINATION.


There are four distinct methods of rat extermination, viz.: 1. Traps. 2.
Poisons. 3. Cats, Dogs, and Ferrets. 4. Human Rat-catchers. We will
first give some practical hints on


I.--TRAPS.

The rat is by no means one of the least intelligent of quadrupeds, and
there is one thing we feel solid about--when he knows you really want to
trap him he'll do his level best to avoid your kind intentions. There
are shoals of ingenious rat-traps with plenty of mechanism in them which
are certainly good as long as you don't plainly advertise them to the
rats, which is about equal to saying "Look out, rats, this is a trap for
you, with a bait!" After you have put out this charitable notice nary a
rodent will you catch. We will now show how most simple people, after
catching a lone specimen, give themselves "dead away," to speak
classically, to all the rats there are in the neighborhood. Get a trap,
no matter of what shape, material or brand--but by all means get one
that doesn't let the rat out again after he has been once caught. Bait
it with anything nice and tempting, and put it near the rat-hole, just
where they come out, any time before you go to bed. In the morning you
probably find you have caught a rat--maybe a big, grizzled old
fellow with a scabby tail, or else a young one, half frightened to
death--anyway it _is_ a rat, and a real live one at that, and you can
forthwith proceed to kill him. Now clean your trap and smoke it out.
Bait it again with the same care and, hundred to one, you find--_no
rat_. The mystery of it is this: The first rat that came out of the hole
on the first night saw you had put down something for him, so he sniffed
the dainty bait and remarked under his breath that he was a devilish
lucky dog and that he had struck a superior sort of a free lunch all to
himself. With that he entered--the trap snapped harshly and cruelly, and
the nervous little animal became frightened and sought to escape from
his seeming abode of luxury. He couldn't get out, squealed long and
plaintively, and worked hard against the sides of his prison. Bye and
bye all the other rats came out to see the cause of all the racket.
After investigating they find their young friend has been dolefully
sold, and together make and keep a vow to steer clear of your traps ever
afterwards. This is why you catch but one rat and no more; for a much
more stupid and less nervous animal than a rat is would keep away from a
similar arrangement in the future. We shall now try the experiment over
again, but in a different fashion. Suppose we select a big round trap
with falling doors at the sides and a hole on top. First be sure that
the doors lift up and fall down very easily. If the bottom of the trap
is of wire place it on sawdust, so that the rats are comfortable in it.
Put the trap _away_ from the hole, near the wall of the cellar, if in
winter near the warmest place, always in a dark spot. As our friend
likes comfort so much, put a bag over the trap, so that he can find the
falling doors easily. Get some rags scented with about fifteen drops of
either oil of rhodium, oil of carraway, oil of aniseed, or a mixture of
these oils. First tie a string around them and swab them around the
rat-holes, then drag them on the ground near the wall, to the place
where the rat-trap is and rub the rags well over it, then put them in.
Have some nice tempting bait in the trap, either carrots, meat, broiled
bacon, or cheese--anything fresh will do--but be careful to put in
enough of it. If the trap is placed as we have above directed the rat
will get in and not try to escape. _Make the trap as much unlike a trap
and as much like a natural hiding-place as possible._ If this is done,
it is highly probable you will have your cage chock-full of rats the
next morning. It is very seldom this fails, but if it should not succeed
the first night proceed as follows: Put the trap exactly as I have told
you, with the exception to tie up the sliding doors. Let it stand there
until the rats have eaten it out several times, replacing the bait.
After the rats get used to frequent the place and think they have a
"soft snap" on you, let down your falling doors again and you have them
all!

After all is said and done, the most practical of all rat-traps is my
little "Special Steel Trap," which catches one rat at a time, but its
cost is so reasonable that you can have a dozen of them for the price of
one of the big wire ones. It is an utter impossibility for the rats to
avoid being caught if the traps are properly placed, and it can, with
ease, be so nicely adjusted that the gentlest touch of a rat's paw will
insure his immediate capture. And when Mister Rat has put down that
little paw of his he is as securely held as if he were nailed to
the floor. I have over ten thousand of these traps in use in my
professional rat-exterminating operations and sell barrels of them. The
larger the space to be covered the more traps are required, and, where
it is possible, remove your rat as soon as caught. Place the traps in
the natural run of the rats; around swill-barrels, along the walls, etc.
Its chief practical beauty is its innocent appearance, as there is
nothing about its placid surface which tells the rats of its unerring
aim. With every trap we furnish a chain-attachment and fastener; the
latter is for the purpose of securing it to the flooring and prevents
the rats from dragging the trap. As this Special Steel Trap is a boon to
large institutions, ships, shops, factories, stores, hotels,
office-buildings, flat-houses, warehouses, private dwellings,
slaughter-houses, etc., etc., I quote the following prices on it, which
are net:

    Per dozen                 $3.00
    Per hundred               20.00


II.--POISONS.

The common rat poisons are Arsenic, Strychnine and Paris-green. These
are put up by enterprising people under a multitude of suggestive names,
without specifying the kind of poisons used, however, or even a warning
of their being poisonous, as the law implicitly directs. There is,
indeed, a great deal of criminal negligence in the way these poisons are
put upon the market, as in some the proportion of poison is so great
that it would kill an elephant--whereas it should be exactly
graded to the rat's capacity. The proportion of arsenic in one
very-much-advertised rat-poison now in use, as analyzed by Dr. Otto
Grothe, a Brooklyn chemist, consists of 98.19 per cent. pure arsenic
and 1.81 per cent. admixtures (coal, etc.). Would-be suicides and
murderers have made use of these poisons extensively. Poisons in powdery
form--such as arsenic and strychnine--are liable, very easily, indeed,
to get mixed up with food, and have in that way been a powerful
death-dealing agency. Their peculiar effect on the rats is to allow them
to get over-doses, causing violent vomiting, followed by complete
failure to kill or drive out. The Phosphoric Paste, the "Sure Pop" brand
of which is very carefully manufactured by the present writer, is free
from all of these objections, as it is in salve form and very hard to be
accidentally mixed up with edibles of any kind. It is impossible for the
rats to receive overdoses of it; and the phosphorus has the effect of
burning and irritating them internally and forcing them to run for fresh
air. Arsenic and strychnine rat-poisons are usually prepared in such
heavy quantities that the rats prematurely die in the holes. On the
other hand, the amount of actual poisonous matter in this "Sure Pop"
Phosphoric Paste has been exactly proportioned to the rat's system,
making the amount of poison very slight. There is no secret at all in
the compounding of this preparation, but it requires much experience and
study of the rat's nature, preferences and habits to make it so that it
will work with proper effect. The utmost daintiness is also required in
the handling of all its ingredients. We have practically shown on page
40 how the smell of phosphorus is the most powerful of attractions known
to the rat, and how it will operate when everything else fails.


III.--DOGS, CATS AND FERRETS.

The claims of cats as one of the rat remedies we shall have to dismiss
in very short order, as the exceptional cases in which they do good work
are altogether too few and far between. The only domestic animal which
really possesses value in _hunting_ rats is the ferret, as, by reason of
its india-rubber joints, it can pursue its prey home. Any terrier--no
matter what variety--having a fair amount of intelligence can be broken
in with ferrets, so that your ferret can do the hunting out and the
dog--at the proper moment--can do the killing. The fox-terrier is by far
the best ratting-terrier. He is quick, understands and remembers what is
taught him, is full of ambition, and readily learns to regard the
ferrets as his partners in the rat-hunt.


IV.--HUMAN RAT-CATCHERS.

The directions given with each of the remedies advocated by me are so
plain that anyone can successfully put them into use. Where the rats
have got altogether too thick, or where they hold possession of a place
in such a way that there appears no clue to dislodging them, it is quite
advisable to call in an expert. To this effect I have perfected a
regular system of rat-exterminating in which the remedies I mention in
this book are systematically applied--under my own superintendence--by a
corps of experts. Through this improved system I am enabled to take
contracts to exterminate rats (and also other vermin) from any kind of
building in any city or town in the United States, providing the job is
large enough. Correspondence on the subject given prompt attention.



THE ORIGIN OF THE FERRET.

WITH HINTS TO DARWIN.


We have stated, in the first chapter of this book, that the verb
"ferret" is derived from the animal of the same name, but many
_savants_, and even "plain people," as Lincoln said, have cudgeled their
brains trying to trace from whence the _animal_ has derived its name.
After long and tedious delving into histories and musty tomes having
even the slightest bearing on the subject, we are able herewith to
enlighten these gentlemen. For this illumination they have long been
waiting, we have no doubt, with the utmost anxiety and impatience. This
requires us to go at length into the matter, and entails upon us the
writing of the ferret's development from prehistoric times until merged
into the animal of to-day, with its present shape, instincts, and
habits. In the course of the essay we also prove conclusively that the
animal originally comes from America. Many scientists will no doubt deem
it peculiar to find us using many modern and untechnical terms in the
following history, but let them rest assured that if we were to make use
of our extensive scientific knowledge of the subject it would compel
them to hunt up all the lexicons that had ever been compiled!

In the very good and very old days before our present reckoning, when
mankind sported tails and was protected against the wind and weather by
a long, hairy covering, and when both animals and man had a language of
their own--in those times it was that two fair-sized buck Martens, one
of the Beech and the other of the Stone species, stood on the southern
point of what is now called Cape Farewell, in Greenland, longitude 30°
30´ east, latitude 60° 2´ north. They trembled violently from
excitement, because they had just finished a friendly set-to of 64
rounds, lasting 3 hours 10 minutes, New York time, and which both had so
far survived. The referee, an old good-natured fox, saw with his keen
off-eye that there was no more fight in either of them, and pronounced
the battle a _draw_, telling them to try it again on some future day,
whereupon he speedily took his departure, as he was very busy just at
that time umpiring base-ball games. The contestants then shook forepaws,
a custom which has survived the centuries, and after a little cold water
and rest had restored them they mended their broken friendship and made
solemn pledges not to try harming each other any more. They further made
a bargain to set up a business firm, which meant in those days, as it
does now, division of spoils. In the language of that time the Beech
Marten was called _Ver_, and his partner, the Stone Marten, _Rect_,
therefore the firm was called "The Ver and Rect Bill-of-Fare Improving
Co." This title explains part of their object in making the trip
described in the following pages. The other agreements were to do it in
perfect harmony, and at the end of their pilgrimage to stick forever by
that particular diet that had suited them best. They were both very
glad of their compact, because each one had formed a high opinion of
the other's powers evidenced in the pummeling of one another's ribs.
Talking things over leisurely, they found themselves getting hungry, and
as their stomach was and is yet the Mainspring of their actions, they
resolved to start immediately on the expedition. After they had traveled
48 hours due south-east (a direction which they instinctively followed
all through their wanderings) they had the good luck to stumble upon a
small but very fat pig, snoring comfortably on the banks of a river,
known then as the Atlantic river, but since developed into the ocean of
the same name, a further account of which is given further on. Ver and
Rect found the stream about the size of our present Hudson as it flows
by Weehawken. The partners accordingly killed the pig without much
bother, ate it, and took a short nap (for those times) of three days,
and after waking they stretched themselves, hopped around, and took a
drink from the river, but no sooner had they swallowed a little of the
water than they commenced spitting, spluttering, and twisting their
faces into all shapes, as the water was very salt and brackish. Eating
the very fat pig and drinking the salt water had not agreed with Ver and
Rect, and they put down the following on the tablets of their minds for
future reference: "Fat pig bad feed--salt water ditto." Hence all their
descendants, right up to this day, never indulge in pork or use salt at
all.

[Illustration]

Ver, who wore spectacles, then took the reckoning, and found they had
just traveled 1910 prehistoric miles, quite a distance for those days.
The firm resolved lazily to start again, and after yawning a good deal,
and lying in the sun a little while longer, they still felt unpleasant
fat-pig and salt-water sensations. They paddled across the Atlantic
river, and by the time they had arrived on _the other side_ they had no
objection to lunching again, and as fortune seemed to favor them, they
spied in the distance a very big woodchuck. After an exciting chase, Ver
and Rect captured him, and at first devoured him with vim. The poor
Martens, however, were doomed to disappointment, for when they had
bolted their prize and had taken their usual nap of three days, they
woke up with great pains in their much-abused interior departments. They
thought the woodchuck business over carefully and made this inward
memorandum: "Woodchuck may be very good, but we prefer lead-pipe."

Four days after the feast of the woodchuck, wandering on rather
discontentedly, they were suddenly delighted by a wonderful change in
the climate, that had previously been harsh and cold, but was now mild
and radiant. Birds were singing from beautiful trees, Nanny and Billy
goats, and sheep were gamboling about cheerfully. Lions and wolves were
doing a thriving business, and, just like the bulls and bears of to-day,
were all living on the poor lambs. The Martens wandered about a mile
through this happy land, and in course of time, bethinking themselves of
their sacred mission, they fell to work on a Billy goat, who was slain,
after a hard fight, as an offering to their great god, The Stomach. It
is evidenced by our records that this goat must have been a huge animal,
for Ver and Rect lived three days on his carcass, although at the end of
this time they felt rather sick. The entry in their inward journal was
as follows: "Disgusted with Billy goat; hopes of finding our steady
feed very gloomy." Rect began to feel discouraged, but Ver cheered him
up, saying unto him: "Rec', I have a feeling within my bones which tells
me our promised land of Good Feed draws near. Brace up thy suspenders,
and let us be of good mien and travail onward, for there is no
philosopher on earth of a cheerful temper with his belly unhinged."
Verily, after a two days' journey, they observed, to their joy, right on
their road, a great mountain overgrown with timber and underbrush. Upon
reaching it, they found it full of game of all kinds, some of which they
began to attack immediately. Among others they caught a little, delicate
gray rabbit, and after critically tasting its flesh, were delighted with
its flavor. They thought now they had found a solid bill-of-fare
material, and made arrangements for staying in the place by digging
themselves comfortable beds under the roots of a big tree. There was
such an abundance of these delicious rabbits that Ver and Rect concluded
they had enough of a wandering life, and that the mission of the
"Bill-of-Fare Improving Co." was fulfilled. They called the land, on
account of the great number of these little animals, _Engelland_,
meaning the land of the Engels, or angels, at present England. Having
kept bachelor's hall for awhile under the big tree, they formed the
acquaintance of some of their rich neighbors, who were very kind to
them, and whom the Martens found to be relatives of theirs. To Ver and
Rect's former pastimes of hunting, eating, drinking (cold water), and
sleeping, they now added courting. Ver acquainted himself with a pretty
young Miss Weasel, a blonde, and paid her attention, and Rect took
fancy to a handsome and stately Miss Mink, a brunette. In two hours
after their first courtship--the thing was done quicker in those
days--Ver and Rect were married men. They begot children, grandchildren,
and great-grandchildren, who in their turn intermarried into the
families of the Sables, the Fitches, and the Ermines, but all the
descendants of Ver and Rect went under the name of Ver-Rects, afterwards
verrects, until it has been gradually mellowed into our present
_ferrets_. The ferrets now lived in the woods of old Engelland, hunting
and eating rabbits and enjoying themselves with all their families on
this only ingredient of their bill-of-fare, which Ver and Rect thought
of making the permanent ferret food by law. Of course the ferrets grew
into the most expert of rabbit-hunters, and they have retained this
ability to the present day. Never after they had been in Engelland did
Ver or Rect or their descendants subsist on pigs, woodchucks, or
billy-goats. One morning a great accident happened, which brought them a
different kind of food, consisting of a large army of black rats. The
way it happened was this: The earth on which we now live, and which
swings around at a pretty good gait on its own axle, broke it right near
the north pole and all the waters spilled out there. They overflowed the
Atlantic river 1500 miles on each side, and thus formed our present
Atlantic Ocean. The high mountain of England was just saved from the
water, making it an island, and just then 750,000 live rats swam on
shore to save themselves from drowning.

The ferrets killed a few of these rats to experiment upon, and were more
than delighted with the tender meat, Ver and Rect making the ferret's
bill-of-fare for all ages chiefly consist of rabbits and rats. Sometimes
the ferrets went rabbit and sometimes rat-hunting, and were as expert in
the one as in the other, and so it is that the ferret of to-day occupies
itself, by the mandates of its forefathers, Ver and Rect, in the
vigorous hunting throughout all lands of the rat and the rabbit. From
whence the rats came before they arrived in England will be found in the
next chapter.


THE CONTINUATION OF THE FORMER CHAPTER.

Our rats are from China. The proof of this will be found in more
particularly observing the rat's looks, vices and nature, the manner in
which he carries his (pig)tail, and further, the great love of the
Chinaman for him. We contend also that the Chinaman and the rat are
relatives, for it can be said of both, as it has been said of one,

    "That for ways that are dark,
    And for tricks that are vain,
    The heathen Chinee is peculiar."

So we say positively that the rat is Chinese, and there is no record
that can prove the contrary. The rats were kept locked up in that great
empire of solid fences before they showed themselves to the other
countries of the earth. Forty years before the great Ver and Rect
battle, 750,000 big rats, with their tails out straight, like real
Chinese pig-tails, concluded to make an exodus out of the heavenly
territory, under the leadership of 75 big chiefs. They didn't want to
leave particularly, but they were afraid of being starved out
altogether, or else murdered for food by the Chinese army. After the
rats had put themselves in battle array, and were duly formed in
procession, the 75 big chiefs, who were distinguished from the others by
their big red noses and muscular forms, held a council. At the end of a
three days' session, during which a great many speeches had been made
and a good deal of fighting had been going on, a very old political
rat-boss arose and made a proposition. His speech was about as follows:
"Honored Rats, and fellow-citizens: I have been a rat for a good many
years, and don't want to change my business. I must say I like being a
rat. But if we are hacked up in soup, or starved out completely, I have
my doubts of our staying powers. Countrymen and lovers, this is what we
are threatened with, and we must move. Where to? is the question that
arises, and I have thought it over. The climate is hot to suffocation
and very unhealthy here; let us trust to luck and go west, as a friend
of mine said on a similar occasion. 'Go West, young man, go West,' I say
unto you now, and I advise you to do so as speedily as possible." This
speech was received with "tremendous applause" for the old rat waxed
very eloquent, and the "go west" resolution was passed unanimously. An
amendment was put in, changing the course to north-west, for the meeting
was held during such hot weather, that some of the radicals wanted to
start out immediately and settle on the North Pole. They were promptly
overruled, of course, and the 750,000 rats, including males and females,
wandered on slowly in their chosen direction, increasing on the road to
a wonderful extent. The council concluded to hold a thorough count or
census of rats, and each male rat, it was provided, should not be
bashful about coming forward and giving the true number of his whole
family--no doctoring of the returns allowed. After the count was
completed, all the rats over and above the original amount, 750,000,
agreed to stay in the country they had arrived at. The originals kept on
moving towards the north-west, but the others filled up every section of
the earth they passed through. The rats made friends with neither man
nor animal on their journey. First they made a stop in a state where all
the owls--although they were countrymen of the rats, having emigrated
from China--fell upon them, and there was a pitched battle, the rats
afterwards hiding themselves in their holes under ground after losing a
great many in dead and wounded. One day they agreed to make an excursion
out of the line of their route and so take in Egypt. In a few weeks they
here ate up all the corn from the fields, stealing and hiding away
anything edible, and quite creating a panic, but always fighting shy of
the daylight. We read in the histories of a great locust plague in
Egypt, about this time, but on this point we have a revelation to make.
The locust was just as innocent of this crime as it is of building the
Brooklyn Bridge--_it was the rats that did it_. When the rats arrived in
Greece they scored a signal victory, because it was there that they
extirminated a whole nation--the mice--and the former have strongly held
this country ever since. We are authentically informed, by reference to
our own private rat historian's notes of this trip, that the first place
the rats met their great enemy, the Dog, was in Ancient Rome, where the
dogs were put on them by man with much success, and here the rats could
get no firm foothold. This caused them a roundabout journey north, and
when they thought they had pretty well established themselves in ancient
Gaul, now France, they were raided by a strange tigerish kind of animal
which proved afterwards a lasting antagonist of theirs--the Cat. The
poor rodents found here the other enemies they had encountered on the
road, the owl and the dog, who were always urged on fiercely by man.
While the rats were struggling along in France, the land was convulsed
by an earthquake, causing the Atlantic river's banks to be overflowed.
This submerged the land on which the rats were, and as they all could
swim they headed their course for England, the nearest dry land. It was
here the ferrets joined man, dogs, cats and owls, but the more the rats
were hunted, the more acute and crafty they got to be, until they found
out innumerable hiding-places and ways of preservation, so we have them
still with us to-day. We thus close our story of research, through which
we have shown America as the birthplace of the ferret, China of the rat,
and England as the first country employing ferrets for rat-hunting.



                                FERRETS:

                            SURE POP BREED.

                           RAISED AND TRAINED

                                 BY THE

                          AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK.

                   EVERY FERRET SOLD IS WARRANTED AS
                              REPRESENTED.

                        DEPOT--92 FULTON STREET,

                             NEW YORK CITY.



                             HOUSES CLEARED

                                 --OF--

                                  RATS

                             WITH FERRETS,

                                 --BY--

                               CONTRACT.

                        DEPOT--92 FULTON STREET,

                             NEW YORK CITY.



                                SURE POP

                           PHOSPHORIC PASTE,

                                FOR THE

                             DESTRUCTION OF

                        Rats, Mice, and Roaches,

                            MANUFACTURED BY

                          "SURE POP" ISAACSEN.

                           =PRINCIPAL DEPOT:=

                           92 FULTON STREET,

                             NEW YORK CITY.



                                SURE POP

                             INSECT POWDER

                                FOR THE

                             DESTRUCTION OF

           Roaches, Bed Bugs, Ants, Fleas, Flies, Mosquitoes
              Moths, Spiders, Scorpions, Centipedes, Plant
             and Animal Lice, Croton Bugs, etc., etc., etc.

                   _OWN IMPORTATION AND WARRANTED THE
                          BEST IN THE WORLD._

                           =PRINCIPAL DEPOT:=

                           92 FULTON STREET,

                             NEW YORK CITY.



                                SURE POP

                         INSECT POWDER KILLERS.


     This valuable little instrument was patented by me years ago.
      It is a handly little machine for dusting the Insect Powder
    around. It is made of vulcanized rubber, having a metallic top.

                           =PRINCIPAL DEPOT:=

                           92 FULTON STREET,

                             NEW YORK CITY.



                                SURE POP

                     Patent Insect Powder Bellows.

                        PATENTED APRIL 29, 1884.
                       NUMBER OF PATENT, 297,693.

          THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS MACHINE OVER ALL OTHERS ARE:

    1. It is easily loaded.

    2. There is no waste of powder.

    3. The Powder can not get back into the Bellows.

    4. The top can not get worked off.

    5. The Bellows are made under my own supervision, and every one is
    guaranteed.



      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
possible, including unusual spelling and inconsistent hyphenation.

"skarks' fins" has been changed to "sharks' fins".





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