Wartime Rat Poison

One pair of rats can produce 880 surviving offspring a year, and each will eat 10s worth of food.

So explained the 1944 Government publication ‘The Land at War’. With food production so important, a war on the rodents was taking place, every bit as important as the wider conflict. Whilst the problem was most acute in the country, those pests in the house were just as destructive, capable of destroying a family’s food ration in the space of a night and the wise householder took suitable precautions by laying down poison to deal with the problems. Tonight we have a wartime pack of rat poison, with the trade name ‘Rodine’ and packaged in a simple red and black box:imageAs can be seen from the front, this poison cost 7 1/2d a tin and was manufactured in Perth Scotland. The rear of the pack gives instructions on the poison’s use:imageThat this is a wartime pack is revealed by the lettering on the top of the box:imageFurther writing on the inner flaps exhorts the householder to save packaging and not to waste paper:imageThe poison itself is in a small metal tin inside the box:imageWhilst these small tins of poisons were fine for the householder, different approaches were needed in the countryside:

The land girl rat-catcher (and there were many of them) must be one of the most intriguing personalities the Land Army produced. She took to her job with a determination and lack of fastidiousness which must have astonished many of us with old-fashioned ideas as to a woman’s antipathy to rodents. Some, working entirely on their own, established remarkable personal records. In two days, a 19 year old ex-dress designer from Leicester gathered 327 carcasses from a Yorkshire granary: and 300 rats can eat three tons of wheat a year.

Below can be seen one day’s catch from a Herefordshire barn:image

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