Arguably one of the most famous tools that a rat exterminator can use is the rat trap or mousetrap, which captures and sometimes kills the pest immediately.
It is likely that for as long as there has been civilisations and mice there have been references to it as far back as Ancient Greece with the Battle of Frogs and Mice.
It was the name used for a play within a play in Hamlet, there is a famous Agatha Christie play with the name and one of the most famous board games ever was called Mouse Trap, where a Rube Goldberg machine was built and then activated that captured (but did not kill) the mouse pieces below.
Interestingly, many of the references to mousetraps actually predate the development of the first affordable and widely used trap, the Little Nipper which was developed and patented by James Henry Atkinson in 1898, although a similar design was patented in the USA in 1894.
Before that you saw some incredibly strange designs, some of which vaguely resembled the spring-loaded Little Nipper, there were some truly bizarre traps.
Arguably the most infamous one was J.A. Williams’ ‘Animal Trap #4’ which featured, and this is not made up, a spring-loaded pistol that would shoot the rat, and basically any burrowing animal, dead.
However, despite the rather inventive nature of the Animal Trap #4, Mr Atkinson’s device would ultimately prove to be the most efficient and successful, capturing 60 per cent of the British mousetrap market and still being produced to this day, some of which are made with plastic parts rather than the wood and metal.
There have been many other types of traps that have been created that attempt to fix the issues of the Little Nipper, either by not needing to be baited, not being quite as difficult and painful to set and some which are designed to capture rather than kill.
Humane mousetraps were initially developed in the 1870s but in the 1920s the Ketch-All Multiple Catch trap did not need bait, could easily capture multiple mice alive and had a mechanism for carrying and releasing the mice some distance away.
There have also been electric traps that shock mice to death and can be used multiple times without being reset. There have also been bucket traps that can be used as either lethal or non-lethal traps depending on whether they contain water or chemicals.
There is also the controversial glue trap, which has as of 2021 been banned because can lead to unnecessary suffering for the pest.