Rough on Rats


“Rough on Rats” was a turn of the Century rat poison brand from Jersey City manufacturer, proprietor—(& sometime music publisher)—E.S. Wells.

Ephraim S. Wells invented a rodent-elimination product in 1872. His wife jokingly called the poison “Rough on Rats.” The name stuck, and the product was a huge success.

The Chicago Tribune)

Promoted as a leading cause of cat unemployment, the inclusion of cats in “Rough on Rats” advertising also highlights our discriminatory hiring practices with regards to animals. (Pets versus pests: the animals that we humans want around, and the animals we don‘t.)


Pets were also featured in the 1882 promotional “Rough on Rats” song, although the lyrics were as rough on pets as they were on rats. The chorus:

“R-r-rats! Rats! Rats! Rough on Rats, Hang your dogs and drown your cats:
We give a plan for every man to clear his house with Rough on Rats”

(Via: The Virtual Dime Museum)

(See the sheet music, after the fold…)

(Click photo above to read lyrics.)

Almost done with the rat-poison-clearinghouse thing… just one more after this one. (I know: too much rat poison is rough on readers.)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

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