Rat Catcher
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Basic Information

A rat catcher is someone who catches rats for a living (or at least for pay) - this is generally a low status job but, for what it is, comparatively well paid given the skill required to do it effectively and the risks involved.

Techniques may include flushing the rats out with a small carnivore (typically a terrier) and then clubing any that it doesn't kill itself, setting traps and poisoning. All have their advantages and disadvantages and most catchers are likely to use a combination of the techniques. The catcher may or may not also dispense advice on preventing re-infestation.

Most customers simply want rid of the rats, and would prefer them dead - which is likely most convenient for the rat catcher as well - but live captured rats have the potential to be sold for rat baiting or as food for exotic pets. Dead rats may also have their uses depending on the culture - in some places they may be stripped for fur and even used for food if that can be tolerated.

Realistically a rat catcher might actually deal with all kinds of vermin - rats, insects, whatever1. In a fantasy or sci-fi campaign this could include some very odd things indeed.

Occupational hazards include rat bites and whatever diseases happen to be going where the rats are - especially Weil's Disease, a condition traditionally known as "ratter's yellows".

Confusingly, "Rat Catcher" is also the name given to the undress form of fox-hunting attire (usually a tweed jacket and tan breeches).

Sources

Bibliography
1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Potentially a great job for very small species. Coupled with the low status this might be the sort of thing that goblins do in an urban-fantasy campaign.
  • Likely to call in PCs when the vermin get above typical rat size - or possibly, especially in fantasy campaigns - quite skilled in fighting giant vermin and maybe small humanoids.
    • Great for a (rather stereotypical) fighter's guild campaign - "rat jobs" might legitimately be a common form of work for less skilled members if the city rat-catchers often encounter vermin that they can't handle and send a runner for whoever is hanging around the guildhall looking for work.
    • Rat catchers might also be the first people to pick up on something causing wierd mutant creatures. Possibly by disappearing and leading to PCs being hired to look for them.
  • Probably quite good with poisons and with some legitimate access.
  • Also having legitimate access to all sorts of places that other people don't see much - including sewer access to otherwise secure buildings (if such things exist).
  • Perhaps people start dying of poisoning - investigators need to first link them all to a given food vendor, then identify that he is serving rat meat, then realise that the rats he has been cooking were poisoned. And then work out who is to blame and for what crimes.
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