Rat Cage
Trapping As Part Of An Integrated Pest Management Approach
Rat Cage
Trapping As Part Of An Integrated Pest Management Approach

Rats & The Royal Navy  

Rats have been a notorious pest problem for humans for centuries, and this issue was no different for the Royal Navy. The presence of rats aboard naval ships posed a serious problem for hygiene, disease control, and food preservation. This article will explore the history of rats in the Royal Navy, the problems caused, the remedies applied, and the costs involved. 

Why Royal Navy Ships?

Rats aboard ships were common during the 18th and 19th centuries, as ships were the perfect environment for them to thrive. The damp and dark spaces on board gave rats a perfect breeding ground. Additionally, food stores and cargo made ships an attractive habitat for rats. It is believed that during the Napoleonic Wars, there were as many as 5 million rats on British ships. 

Rats on board ships posed several problems for the Royal Navy. Firstly, rats were disease carriers, and their presence could quickly lead to illness outbreaks among the crew. This was a serious concern, as disease outbreaks could be fatal to the crew and render ships unable to continue their duties. Rats also caused damage to food stores and cargo, which could result in shortages of vital supplies during long voyages. 

What Was Done

The Royal Navy took several measures to combat the rat problem. One of the earliest methods employed was the use of cats aboard ships. Cats were seen as natural predators of rats and were brought on board ships to control the rat population. However, cats also posed problems, as they required food and could become a source of disease if not properly cared for. 

Another method employed by the Royal Navy was the use of rat traps. Traps were set up throughout the ship, and rats were caught and disposed of. However, this method was not always effective, as rats could quickly learn to avoid traps and reproduce rapidly. 

In the late 19th century, the Royal Navy turned to poison to control the rat population. Strychnine was used to poison rats, which proved to be an effective control method. However, the use of poison also had its downsides, as it could be dangerous to crew members if not handled correctly.

Pest Control For Rats 

Notable rat catchers also played a role in controlling the rat population aboard naval ships. Jack Black was one of the most famous rat catchers in the Royal Navy, who served as the chief rat catcher on board the HMS Worcester. Black was known for his skill in catching rats and was often called upon to control the rat population on other ships. 

The cost of controlling rats aboard naval ships was significant. The Royal Navy spent a considerable amount of money on cats, traps, poison, and the salaries of rat catchers. The cost of damage caused by rats to food stores and cargo could also be significant. 

In conclusion, rats have been a persistent problem for the Royal Navy. The presence of rats on board ships posed a serious threat to hygiene, disease control, and food preservation. The Royal Navy employed various methods to combat the rat problem, including using cats, traps, poison, and the services of notable rat catchers. While these methods were somewhat effective, they were costly and had downsides. Despite the challenges posed by rats, the Royal Navy overcame the problem and ensured its crew's health and safety.

If you have a problem with rats or any other type of pest contact that needs professional treatment contact us below or call us on 07443 052851, and our experienced, friendly team will offer advice and provide an effective solution.