What do Queen Victoria, the Pied Piper, and a children’s book have in common? Rats, of course – more specifically, the art of catching them. The history of rat-catching is a lot more fascinating than you might expect, but it's probably just as gross. From sewers to disease to lucrative rat-fighting businesses, rat-catching is definitely the kind of dirty and disgusting job that deserves more recognition.
The origins of the rat-catching story are pretty simple. Basically, Europe had a rat problem, and people were hired to solve it. The profession was a way to stem the tide of the Black Death during the Middle Ages, and it reached its height in Victoria's England. The way catchers took advantage of their position as vermin hunters, though, is what makes the history of rat-catchers so intriguing. Thanks to various first-hand accounts, biographies, pictures, and even fairy tales, there is so much to learn about the dirty work that kept Europe safe from disease and contaminated food. Despite all the good rat-catchers did, though, the idea of getting paid to hunt rats is still a bit icky.
Try not to think too hard about it as you go read about the fascinating profession that was rat-catching. After all, if someone named Jack Black could hide six disease-ridden rats underneath his shirt, then you can certainly read about it from the comfort of your own home.
Rat-Catching Was A Lucrative Business – Especially When You Bred The Rats That You Would Go On To Catch Or Sell
Rat-Catchers Bred 'Fancy' Pet Rats For The Rich And Famous
Rats Became Legit Thanks To Rat-Catchers
Because Of Rat-Catchers And An 1835 Law, Rat-Baiting Became A Popular Blood Sport
These Weren’t Your Average Rats – Rat-Catchers Were After The Brown Ones With The Big 'Ol Bodies
Rat-catching Was Mostly a Poor Man’s Job