A few days ago, my girlfriend’s quail met a sudden and disasterous end. Without warning, rats descended on the hapless birds and literally ripped them into pieces. There was none of the savage delicacy of a stoat or a weasel, which just puncture a hole in the back of their prey’s skull – the rats had just destroyed the quail, leaving limbs and guts strewn across their run. A quick look around the quail house revealed that the foundations of the shed are riddled with holes and that the attack has been a long time coming. Unwilling to let the matter lie at that, I have declared open war on the damn rodents, and will not settle until they are wholly destroyed. After all, even though the quail have gone, I plan to have grey partridges and black grouse in the same garden over the next few months, and they will not suffer the same fate as long as I have breath in my body.
Before descending into a total whirlwind of industrial vermin control, I decided that I wanted to give my seesaw traps a quick test to see if they would work on a rat. They were duly set around the rat infested quail house, and I was excited this morning to find that one had been set off. Peering into the mesh opening on the box, I realised that although I hadn’t caught a rat, I had caught a mouse, who was busily devouring the quail remains which I had left in as bait.
Any doubts that I had concerning the efficiency of seesaw traps were immediately quashed. Not only had I made something that was finely tuned enough to catch a mouse, but it was also secure enough to contain it. The lock had held, and although a mouse is hardly on the same par as a stoat, it was extremely satisfying to see at first hand that they can work. I let the mouse out and reset the trap, hoping that it will yield a slightly more demanding result tomorrow morning.
It makes you wonder why seesaw traps have gone out of circulation. I had never heard of them until a few weeks ago, but there is no reason why they can’t be just as good as a mesh cage trap. The real advantage is the price – a cage trap will cost twenty pounds, whereas a homemade trap costs no more than the price of some scrap wood, some nails and two pieces of wire. It may take forty five minutes to make a seesaw trap, but just like making your own pigeon decoys or tying your own trout flies, there is a certain pleasure in doing something yourself…