National Rat Catcher’s Day on July 22 every year pays homage to the well-known German folktale of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin.” This small German town, Hamelin, was grappling with a severe rat infestation. The locals hired a man with a flute to rid their town of the pesky rodents.
Encouraged by the Mayor’s promise to pay one thousand gold guilders, he went straight to work and succeeded in using the magic of music. All the rats followed him out of the town into the River Weser, where he drowned them. However, the town refused to pay, so the Pied Piper returned and led all the children out of the town by playing his flute. In some versions of the story, the Pied Piper kept the children until he was paid. Other versions say the children were never seen again. The poet Robert Browning wrote a famous poem based on this tale, called “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.”
History of NATIONAL RAT CATCHER’S DAY
This holiday is marked on two dates: June 26 and July 22. This is because the Brothers Grimm cites June 26, 1284, as the date, the Pied Piper led the children out of the town, while Robert Browning’s poem states it as of July 22, 1376. The tale is much more than fiction. Evidence suggests that something deeply traumatic happened in the German town on June 26, 1284. One theory states that the children died of natural causes such as an epidemic, and the Piper was an allegory of death.
Other people believe that they may have joined the Children’s Crusade of 1212 where thousands of children set off for the Holy Land. However, many were sold to slavery or died on the way. Today, The Pied Piper is still a central figure in Hamelin, although with a focus on the spirit of fun and entertainment. There are Pied Piper-themed restaurants and businesses whose names reflect the legend.
Rat-catchers handled the catching and disposing of vermin in a city. In medieval Europe, rodents were responsible for spreading epidemics and diseases, such as the plague. They also threatened food supply since people had no refrigerators or freezers. Black rats usually lived among the city’s inhabitants, entering wooden houses and hiding in the straw where poorer residents slept.
Rat-catchers would use animals trained to hunt and kill the vermin or try to catch them themselves. Other options were using rat traps and vermin-poisoning powders.
Due to the dirty nature of the job, rat-catchers were often folk from poor backgrounds. The wages were also quite meager.
NATIONAL RAT CATCHER’S DAY timeline
An inscription with details of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin” on a stained-glass window in the town’s church is lost when the church is destroyed.
Québec haves its first record of rat-catchers.
Robert Browning writes the poem “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.”
William C. Hooker, an American inventor, patents the first spring-loaded rat trap.
NATIONAL RAT CATCHER’S DAY FAQs
What dangers did rat-catchers face?
Vermin hunters faced the risk of suffering bites and infections from rats.
Are there any famous rat-catchers?
Jack Black was one of the most famous rat eliminators in Victorian times and worked for Queen Victoria.
What did rat-catchers do with the rodents?
Some rat-catchers would breed rats and sell them to the wealthy as ‘fancy rats.’
NATIONAL RAT CATCHER’S DAY Activities
Appreciate your exterminator
Show your local rat-catcher a little bit of appreciation both verbally and by paying them well. These exterminators help us get rid of uninvited guests from our spaces and deserve our respect.
Read the story
Reading the Brother Grimm tale of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin” will help you get into the spirit of the day. It will also help you gain a better appreciation for rodent eliminators.
Spread the word on social
Show your love to all the rat-catchers in the world using the hashtag #RatCatchersDay. Let your friends and followers know about this interesting day.
5 Interesting Facts About Rats
No rats here
Antarctica is the only continent that doesn’t have rats.
Lots of little ones
Rats can give birth to up to 20 young ones each breeding season.
Magic for rodent control
Some rat-catchers in Québec recited spells to drive rats away.
In memory of the story
Every Sunday all through summer, actors gather in the old town center of Hamelin, to re-enact the tragic tale.
A high calling
In some countries, the rat-catcher was a well-respected and very important position in society because of the dangers posed by vermin.
Why We Love NATIONAL RAT CATCHER’S DAY
The tale of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” is mysterious and intriguing. The possibility of the story being real adds excitement to the day.
Reminder about fairness
“The Pied Piper of Hamelin” story reminds us to keep our promises and pay workers fairly. It encourages us to champion better pay for manual labor.
We learn some history
Rat catching has a long and interesting history. On National Rat Catcher's Day, we get to learn all about this profession.
NATIONAL RAT CATCHER’S DAY dates