Photo Credit: Robert Browning, 1988. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Illustration by Kate Greenaway (1846–1901).
Rodent control has a lot more history than one may think! Rat Catcher’s Day is celebrated to in commemorate the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin in Germany. This day can either be celebrated on the 26th June as per the Brothers Grimm story where the Pied Piper led the children out of the town on 26 June 1284, or the 22nd July, citing the poem of Robert Browning written in 1376 in remembrance of the lost children tragedy.
This ‘tail’ describes a brightly coloured minstrel who visits the town of Hamelin, promising the community that he will get rid of the rats and mice that infest their town for a fixed sum of money. The visitor (‘the pest control expert’) produces a pipe and begins to play, luring the rats and mice out of from houses all around the town – all of them appearing around the Pied Piper in a swarming mass. Thereafter, he leads the rodents to the River Weser, and they leap in and are drowned. Once the residents of Hamelin are rid of the plague, they conveniently forget about their promise to reimburse the Pied Piper for his rodent control services. He – however – has not forgotten!
A year later, the Pied Piper returns to the town, dressed this time as a huntsman seeking vengeance. He plays his pipe again, but this time it is the town’s children which appear. He leads the 130 children through the Ostertor gate, where the children disappear into the very heart of the hill – or as others tell it, into the depths of a cave – from which they were never to be seen again.
Luckily for us, Rentokil only specialises in getting rid of rats and mice (not children!). Legends aside, rodents are very much a menace; spreading with them illness and causing damage. Even today one must keep the rodent population under control to prevent it from escalating, as it did in the town of Hamelin.
In honour of Rat Catcher’s Day, we have put together a few reasons why it is so important to get rid of rats and mice that infest your home of building:
- Rodents are known to spread diseases such as Salmonellosis (Salmonella enterocolitis), Murine Typhus (transmitted by the rat flea) and Leptospirosis or Weils disease, which is spread when infected rat urine gets into food and water sources. As if these facts are not shocking enough, did you know that rats contaminate more food than they consume, and leaving the remains unfit for human consumption?
- Contamination aside, rodents also carry fleas, mites and ticks which can cause acute allergic reactions.
- Rats also have to continuously gnaw to grind down their incisors, as they never stop growing! They can gnaw through wood, copper, aluminum and uncured concrete. It has even been reported that rats cause damage to the wiring of buildings – health hazard alert! It’s not too often you hear about a rat bringing down an entire nuclear plant, but that’s exactly what happened in March 2013 at the infamous Fukushima nuclear plant, when a rat managed to cause a power outage which took over an entire day to restore!
What can you do to get rid of rats and mice that infest your premises?
In our previous blog we listed a few tips to get rid of mice, such as employing good housekeeping practices, using DIY mouse repellent products and sealing entry points. Those tips are very helpful in certain cases to prevent rodent problem, but sometimes these headstrong critters can decide to overstay their welcome, just like they did in the Pied Piper story.
Professional rodent control is the answer in getting rid of rats and mice that infest your property, and in my case, Rentokil was very effective in eliminating these furry critters from my home – without having to play a flute to coax these gnawing fiends from the nooks and crannies of my beloved home!
On that note (no pun intended…), a very happy Rat Catcher’s Day to all the Pest Control experts out there!