Writing Letters to Rats

Back in more polite times, it was the custom for people to write letters to the rats infesting their homes, asking the rodents to leave before more aggressive measures were taken. From the article "Conjuring Rats," in the Journal of American Folklore (Jan/Mar 1892):

In New England, as well as in other parts of the United States, it is still believed, by certain persons, that if a house is infested with rats, these can be exiled by the simple process of writing them a letter, in which they are recommended to depart, and make their abode in another locality. The letter should indicate precisely the habitation to which they are assigned, and the road to be taken, and should contain such representations of the advantages of the change as may be supposed to affect the intelligence of the animal in question.

The method of delivering the letter was to grease it, roll it up, and push it into the entrance of the rat-hole "in order that it might be duly read, marked, and inwardly digested." An example of a letter to a rat is reproduced below:

     Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 02, 2012
     Category: Animals

Mr. Rat...
I have a writ here says you're to stop eating Chen Lee's cornmeal forthwith. Now it's a rat writ, writ for a rat, and this is lawful service of the same.

Click Here
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 01/02/12 at 09:07 AM
Arsenic ink would ensure the custom worked.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 01/02/12 at 09:36 PM
Looks like we have tougher rodents in my neighbourhood. I had a couple pounds of left-over rat poison in my garage and when I found it, something had licked it clean. I don't think they would treat a letter with any more respect.
Posted by Harvey on 01/11/13 at 02:59 PM
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