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Thoughts on the brutal death of a vagrant rat

I do not want to take a life; I’m not a barbarian or a savage. I was not cut out for taking a life. Rats, do not put me in such a situation. Maybe I should join the Jain religion

Gabi dead rat


WEWAK - A few days ago, I set a rat glue trap to catch the pests who had invaded our home and established squatter settlements in the walls and ceiling.

Some of the rascals would walk around the house like they had a property title.

This rat population relied on illegal means to survive; their main activities being stealing food from the kitchen and gnawing through various parts of the house.

The other night, a huge rat in search of food in the kitchen got stuck in the trap I’d placed under the table.

The unfortunate rattard probably didn’t see the danger and stepped unknowingly into its demise.

I heard squealing from the kitchen so knew I had caught a thief.

But when I saw it, I couldn’t bring myself to kill it so let it go and watched as it dragged itself into the hole in the wall with glue plastered all over its fur.

Undeterred, its relatives raided the kitchen later that night and ate into our bag of rice.

That made me both mad as hell and regret freeing that thief. These other guys were smart and carefully evaded the trap.

Then tonight, another rat – a big one - got stuck in the trap.

I was outside the house but I could hear it squealing as it struggled to free itself.

I grabbed a long piece of wood and ran into the house to where the trap was and there it was – four legs and a tail stuck in the glue.

I noticed it was a male as its big balls were hanging out.

I thought, well, no time for empathy, I let one go yesterday and I’m killing this one tonight to teach rats a lesson.

No one should get away with raiding my kitchen.

As I was about to plant the wood firmly on his back, he rat stared at me with a ‘have mercy please’ look.

I was about to surrender and set it free but felt a sudden surge of cold anger as I remembered the times he and his criminal friends had stolen food from our kitchen and gnawed through our belongings.

And with the words ‘crime does not pay’ ringing in my ears, I struck at him with a blow that broke his back. The poor bastard gave a faint squeal and died.

I stood over his lifeless corpse feeling like a big man having killed a thief. But that sense of pride soon evaporated and was replace by guilt. Indeed, a great feeling of guilt.

I had killed a defenceless rat, where was the honour in that?

It was like kicking a man while down or shooting a man who is blindfolded or stabbing a man with his arms tied behind his back (none of which I have done in real life).

I felt like a coward. The rat couldn’t defend himself. An overwhelming sadness crept over me as I thought about his circumstances.

He must have had a family. He probably was a hardworking father just grinding an existence so he could feed his family.

And here I was - the ass who had killed the provider and head of a family now defenceless and helpless.

I suppose his family heard his squealing, I thought. I expect mother told the children to cover their rat ears so as not to hear their dad’s suffering.

I knew in his final moments this rat had his in family in mind - that faint squeal before moving on to the afterlife.

Anyway, if there’s a rat paradise, he’s probably there munching on a big piece of cheese or chicken. And he probably walked on grains of rice on the highway to rat paradise.

Maybe the squeals had been a warning to his family to keep away from the sticky stuff with food on it under the table.

It was shame that I felt. Poor creature, he had a long life to live, probably had enough sperm in him to produce another thousand rats. But I took that opportunity away from him.

He probably had mad genes to produce a rat who would one day invent a machine to enslave the human race and rule us.

The guilt led me to gently pick him up and cover him with a sheet of A4 paper.

I carried him outside and, right beside the flower garden, dug a shallow grave and gave him a burial fitting for a professional hustler.

I sensed that his family was watching from a safe distance as I lay him to rest.

Advice to rats: I hope none of you get caught in the trap, stay in your holes or avoid the glue if you do come out and wander around.

I do not want to take a life; I’m not a barbarian or a savage. I was not cut out for taking a life. Rats, do not put me in such a situation.

Maybe I should join the Jain religion that practices the principles of non-violence and respect for all living things.

I don’t want to kill anybody’s father, mother or son. There must be kinder, gentler lands free of carnage where all creatures of nature can coexist peacefully.

And to the rat tribe that lost a family member tonight, I know you’re in mourning and probably plotting revenge. Some of you are likely reading this post. I know what you’re capable of.

I’ve watched Ratatouille and Flushed Away and other movies involving rats.

I know you’re capable of doing things we humans do.

I know you’re also on Facebook. Read this post and take precautions.


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Daniel Kumbon

I buried my house cat three months ago when it died of old age. I shed a few tears and gave it a decent burial in the back yard. When some of my family members came from the village, i showed them our 'Meao's' final resting place.

The rats have come back to invade my house again - these ugly, squeaky, sneaky, disturbing, dirty, thieving little bastards They should go straight to rat's hell, if there is such a place for animals.

I know my 'Meao is sitting up there in heaven happily watching the thieving rats including the big male in this superb literary piece by Duncan Gabi march off to hell.

And if there is a Haus Tambaran in the Animal Kingdom if there is such a place, a cat should be elected speaker to keep the rats at bay..

Garrett Roche

Many years ago when I was teaching at DWU in Madang a student named Duncan Gabi wrote an interesting essay on ‘Human Rights’ and the PNG Constitution. This item on the vagrant rat rights, which I like and think is being provocative in a good sense, by a Duncan Gabi, reminds me of the poem ‘To a Mouse’ by Robert Burns one of which verses reads:
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

(‘Gang aft agley’ = ‘can often go astray’

Arthur Williams

Goodness me Paul, here am I thinking so highly of you as a great sort of cobber, not involved in homemade abattoirs.

PNG couldn't sort out how to enforce the capital punishment and so abandoned it with now the possibility of Life in gaol meaning Life for the worst killers.

The law loves categories I wouldn't want to be killed by a 'nice' killer or as someone wrote a bullet fired from a thousand yard can kill you instantly just like bomb.

Apparently hearing of the executioner problem in PNG there were plenty of offers from several men seeking employment. Some apparently offered to do it for a small reward.

In Baimuru I was told of the BIg Man rate, Middleman Rate and the Lowman Rate by a would be assassin a I was having a local security problem.

Sorry for my verbal Dai-of-the-Rear haven't seen a visitor for 12 days due my Covid.

I once used the glue trap which were quite expensive so tried to remove Mr Verm and reuse. Yuck! It left bit of him or her attached as free extra cannibalistic bait for his extended family to eat and get stuck up. A four legged pussy is worth its weight in scraps from your meals.

Douglas Nasenom

Loved this piece Duncan.

Lindsay F Bond

Dimensions, Paul, may require revision when a shift comes at 'you elect me' (note, there is no 'if'.)

Philip Fitzpatrick

I've got some rat and mouse traps that allow me to capture the creatures alive. I can then take them somewhere distant and let them go.

You should get some, they don't cost much.

A good spot to let them go might be at that big haus tambaran in Waigani.

They'd settle in their quite nicely and probably feel right at home.

Paul Oates

For some reason, Duncan's rant resonates with me. Could it be there's more than a smidgen of a parallel revelation of a human universe that reflects that of the rat?

But to first return to the practical aspect of vermin control. I made passing mention of my own battle with the ravening hordes of at least two mouse plagues when we owned a farm in the book 'Phascogales and other tales'.

The cheapest vermin trap is to spend a bit of time and use some spare old sheet iron for a one way trap.


1. First make a tube or hollow column of old 'kapa' or sheet iron about a meter long and around 20cm square.
2. Cut 20 cm out of the top in a square so that there is now only three sides at the top and a 20cm square gap at the top of the column.
3. Make sure by putting a lid on the top that the only way into the inside is through the 20cm square gap.
4. Cut a piece of old iron into a rectangle that fits almost into the gap at the top and rest the rectangle on a strong piece of fence wire that you put across the bottom edge of the gap and put two holes holes in the rectangle so that it can be wired onto the strong fence wire that is threaded through the walls of the column at the bottom of the cut out square. A cantilever effect is thereby obtained, but allow enough of the rectangle to project out from the column so that it will automatically fall back horizontally in place unless a small weight (e.g. a rat or mouse) ventures onto the end of the rectangle inside the column.
5. Hang a piece of delectable bait from the roof of the column by a wire.
6. Place the column in a bucket of water with at least two thirds full and make sure there is a pathway to the oblong cantilever and the tempting bait.
7. The weight of the rat will operate the cantilever and the rat plunges to it's doom leaving the unobtainable bait for the next 'sucker' sorry, innocent rat.

The trap will keep working all night and not need to be replaced until you empty out the bucket full of dead vermin.

Now that sounds like a bit like an election these days. If the promise of an attractive bait is offered, it seems most voters will fall for the con.

How does the old beginning of a fairy tale start? 'Once upon a time....'

Only these days there's a new beginning. It goes: 'If you elect me....'

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