Friday, 18 September 2009

It's a trap!

I won't go into the details about why I recently bought two Fen Traps for an infirm friend who is trying to protect his chickens from marauding rats, but I thought someone (anyone - is there anyone out there?) might find this story funny.

Fen Traps are like traditional rat traps, but entirely made of steel and about 10 times more powerful than the ordinary trap. Nothing that pokes it's nose into one will survive, once it has gone off. I ordered two of them via eBay, and they arrived in a neat package the day before yesterday. I took them out of the wrapping, and noticed that there didn't seem to be any instructions with them, so I played around with one, trying to work out how to set it by tracing the complex (for me) series of galvanised bars and plates, all controlled by one mighty spring which was situated between the upper and lower assemblies.

I was just gently easing a clip that locked one bar against another (I later found out that this was the safety-catch), when it went off like a gun, trapping three of the fingers on my left hand, but leaving my right hand free to prise the thing open within a matter of two seconds, release my left hand and - whilst still half open - throw it away from me like a grenade, where it hit the ground with a second snap which was a lot louder than the first. It's amazing the strength that you can muster in moments of extreme crisis. Shock and Awe.

The pain prompted me to take a close look at the little finger and - despite a thick, indented ridge in the flesh which stayed for a couple of hours - it was unbroken, and I survived completely unscathed. Not even a bruise.

Now I know Health and Safety practice has got a bit out of hand of late, but can you imagine the mentality of a company which - for the sake of flat-packing convenience - would send these brutish traps through the post ALREADY SET and without instructions????

I have decided that these things are just too unpleasant to use (not to mention that I don't trust my mate to set them away from inquisitive cats), so I won't be giving them to him.

Stop sniggering.


  1. As a footnote to the above, I have just received a reply from the company who sold me the traps, after I asked them why they don't come with instructions. It reads as follows:

    "Thank you for your enquiry. The manufacturer does not provide instructions for these. As such we put a note on the Ebay listing to ask that they are only puchased by customers which are familiar with their operation. If used for rabbits place in the burrows and cover with a light coating of soil. The jaws should almost touch the top of the burrow when sprung. Kind regards"

    Well, for a start, it was not an enquiry as such, it was a rant. Also, I do not recall the advice about not buying unless you are familiar with them being printed at the top of the page in red when I bought mine. I think they adjusted the advert after my email.

    It's a bit like selling an air-rifle to someone which has been cocked and loaded, then left with the safety catch on - you have to make an allowance for the lowest common denominator which - in this case - was me.

    What do I do, send them negative or neutral feedback for their lack of concern over anything other than protecting their own arses against litigation, or just write the whole thing off as an unfortunate experience?

    Whatever, I really don't want to lose my sense of humour over it.

  2. Better to lose your sense of humour than someone losing a finger etc. Although to be honest, I quite like the idea of them being ready primed as anyone trapping animals deserves to get hurt.

  3. I sort of agree with you on both counts Johnny. Although I did say at the beginning that I wouldn't go into the details about why I agreed to get them for my friend, suffice it to say that he is dying and I really didn't want to refuse him this request. Anyway, I'm not going to give them to him as they're just too bloody dangerous and he would never be able to set them anyway. He'll just have to lose chickens or eggs (whichever comes last), or beef-up his security somehow. They are on the same level as his kitchen though.

    My workshop is infested with rats and I just put up with them on the grounds that there are no babies or food being eaten in it (it's been a long time since I ate a baby) and they're shy creatures that don't bother me during the day. However, if they were in the kitchen area of my house, I would have no compunction about exterminating the the lot of them - would you? Or would you rather share your larder with them and run the constant risk of Weill's disease - not to mention tripling your food bill at Waitrose?

    I'd like to know.