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  • A Night At The Rat Pit

    If the plaque was not enough for the rat to get a bad name, there was another time that rats were used in a inhumane way for a sport that was known as ratting.

    Here is a brief history on the subject of RATTING:

    In the 1800’s ratting competitions flourished. Defenders of ratting said it was the last sport left for the poor man and that it improved the breed of terriers. There was no cruelty in it for the defenders said the rats died quickly, they would contend. .“ Of all blood sports this was possibly the least edifying. Instead of offering exercise and fresh air, it was a spectator sport conducted in the foulest air imaginable. However, it gave roughs and not only roughs an outlet for their savagery, while serving in a small way to keep down a too-widespread pest.” At one count there were at least seventy rat-pits in London. Henry Mayhew describes a little about what he saw when he published this article in 1851:


    “The pit” as it was called, consists of a small circus, some six feet in diameter. It is about as large as a center flower bed, and fitted with a high wooden rim that reaches to elbow height. Over it the branches of a gas lamp were arranged, which light up the white painted floor, and every part of the little arena. “All the little dogs which the visitors had brought up with them were now squalling and barking, and struggling in their masters’ arms, as if they were thoroughly acquainted with the uses of the pit; and when a rusty wire cage of rats, filled with the dark moving mass, was brought forward, the noise of the dogs was so great that the proprietor was obliged to shout out “Now you that have dogs do make ‘em shut up.” The rats where then pulled out of their cage by their tails and thrown into the arena. When the dog was brought forth and shown the dozen rats, he grew excited and stretched himself in his owner’s arms, whilst all the other animals joined in a full chorus of whining. “Chuck him in,” said the captain.

    The dogs then would be tossed into the ring to run and catch a rat then bite down and shake the rat in it's mouth snapping the rats back.

    By the end of the night blood would be all over the small pit and the smell of death would linger in the air.This sport brought much joy to those who attended these events and walked home with their winnings from the bets they made.

    Ratting pits existed for a much longer period than one may have imagined, and the last public competition took place in Leicester, in 1912. The owner was prosecuted, fined, and had to give a promise to the court that he would never again promote such entertainment.

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