Iron gin rat trap, England, 1750-1900
When a rat or other unfortunate animal stepped on the iron plate in the centre of this device, the metal jaws sprang shut, trapping and badly injuring the animal’s leg. Once caught, the rat would have been killed. The trap was probably placed outside or in the home, or in grain and other food stores where rats were a constant problem. Gin traps were banned in Britain in 1954 because of the pain and distress caused to animals.
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Glossary: animal trap