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THOUG I already, and recently, I have dealt with the menace of rats in our midst, I return to the same theme out of a sense of duty to my readers; since I want to draw attention to a pamphlet just issued on this vitally important matter by the Trustees of the British Museum of Natural History, constituting No. 8 of the ” Eco- nomic Series ” issued by this institution. The author. Mr. M. A. C. Hinton, is not only one of the greatest hving authorities on all that pertains to rats and mice, from the natural-history point of view, but he has also made a most thorough and exhaustive study of those species which, in one way or another, affect the well-being of the human race. This side of the subject bristles with difficulties, and embraces a number of very dif- ferent aspects, though all are closely inter-related, thus demanding subtle powers of analysis and sound judgment for their disentanglekmmt. Within the space of some sixty pages, the author has contrived to present his readers not only with all the essential facts as to these animals, in so far as they affect our health, our crops, and our industries, but also with a broad general sum- mary of the distinguishing features of all the species of rats and mice to be found in the British Islands. and of the main facts in regard to their origin and life-history. The farmer, the gardener, the tradesman, and the housekeeper should make a point of studying this pamphlet, for it is our bounden duty to make ourselves acquainted with the seriousness of the menace which confronts society, in the present hordes of rats and mice which now find harbourage, both in town and country, as a consequence of our indifference, or inability to realise how much is at stake. There can at least be no excuse for neglecting this duty on the score of cost, for the Trustees, anxious to arouse the public on this matter, have fixed the price at one shilling. Though we have several native wild species of Murd–the great family to which the rats and
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OUR ENEMY THE RAT. with those a humanity. Human entaprie in all its phase, as well as human negigence, has dis- turbed the balanei of nature in favour of thse
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speces, affording them an unnatural degree of pro- tection from their many enemies, and a large and unmerited share of the world’s food-stuffs, togethr withpalrct travelling facilities; so that thme pests have been eabled not only to invade every part of the civilised world, but alo to spread into regions as yet untouched by the march of cvilaiaton. The study of this pamphlet should arouse both alarm and a detemination to take instant action
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dyseta~y. foot-and-mouth disease, and borse- influenza. The common rat makes its way into the store places and kitchens of our houses and restaurants, where, besides contaminating our food with its germ – laden dejecta and parasites, it brings a wealth of indescribable filth from its favourite haunts in the adjoining sewm and
drains. Need one say more ? The common rat is fearsomely prolific, as may be judged from the fact that the progeny of a single pair might, in ten years, supposing none to die a violent death, amount to no ess than 48,319.698,843.030,344,720 ilndividuals! Of omme, such a calculation is purely theoretical; but we have at least one record of the produce of two femaim which, in thirteen months, in thirteen litters, produced r8o young. The matter today is serious. From all parts of the country come complaints of the great in- mase in the numbers of rats, and of the great damage they are doing to agriculture and the produce of the allotment-holder. This increase, of course is due directly to the war; for military service, the manufacture of munitions and other war mateuial, and the great rise in wages in the towns,. have aB contributed to denude the country and the towns of the labour formerly devoted to at-extermination. And a further factor has been introduced in the need for enforcing economy in the use of foodstuff, which has given rise to a series of regulations prohibiting the use of food- stufs as bait for traps. The result of such regu- lations in this regard is deplorable. It seems to have been forgotten that the amount of food used a s ait foud be but a drop in the ocean compared with the amount consumed by the rat thu pro. tectd I Some relaxation of the regulations an the part of the Food Controller should at one” be made, or disaster awaits s War on the rat must begin at once. But, as Mr. Hinba points out, should we succeed in materially reducing its numbers, then, in propor. tian, the number of house-mice will inevitably inease : and these are lmost as dangerous. Thus it i obvious we most declare war, also, on the mio. I have gives no more than a hint of the naue of this raly mastely pamphlet but I tr that I shall peamade my eaders, their own sas, to pones thaselves of a copy for casufl and thoughtful study. W. P. Prcsar.