Tristan da Cunha Ratting Day
Ratting Day is the annual tradition when teams of Tristan da Cunha men compete to rid the Potato Patches of rats.

2016 Ratting Day

Held on Saturday 30th April 2016

Photos from Dawn Repetto and Tina Glass

Report from Tina Glass
On Saturday 30th April the fishing gong was hit at around 6.15 am to announce the annual Ratting Day. This task was carried out by the Chief Islander Ian Lavarello and the Acting Agriculture Officer Martin Green. It was a misty day with winds from the north but very warm.

Ratting Day is an annual Tristan tradition which was started in the early days when rat poison was not readily available, so this was the islanders' way of keeping rat and mice numbers to a minimum.

The village soon was a flow of light and everyone was busy preparing and meeting up in their gangs to start the walk to the Patches to hunt rats. You could hear dogs barking and vehicles making their way out to the Potato Patches. The bus and private vehicles were used to transport women and children in their team gangs to the camping huts at the patches. Here the ladies prepared various dishes for the men and children in readiness for their return to the camping huts around midday. After being well fed, the men and children returned to their rat hunting again in the afternoon.

Later in the afternoon everyone heads back to the village. The exciting part of the day is when the tails are counted and the winning teams announced to see who have won the prizes. Counting takes place and prizes are awarded at the Veterinary Clinic by the judges, Administrator Alex Mitham, Chief Islander Ian Lavarello, Veterinary Officer Dereck Rogers and Doctor Mohammed.

After this the gangs had some refreshments at island homes and a dance in the Prince Philip Hall to celebrate the day.

Ratting in action
as teams discover rat nests,
dig, chase, kill and de-tail!

Gathering for a break at lunch time:
thirsty work ratting!

Judges getting to work counting
and measuring tails in the Veterinary Clinic

Below: Gang members wait anxiously for the results

Report from Alex Mitham representing the judges

The judging started at 18.00 in Dereck's Veterinary Clinic - Dereck, Ian and I counted the tails while Dr Mohammad was Referee. Dawn was the official photographer.

As you may see from the photos - there were quite a few tails....some were more pungent than others!

Total tails caught - 914

1st Prize for Longest tail - This was won by two teams as there was a dead heat - Second Watron and Coolers (28cm long tails)

2nd Prize for Longest tail - Twitty Patch

1st Prize for most tails - Daily's Hill

2nd Prize for most tails - Below the hill

3rd prize for most tails - Second Watron

Booby Prize - The Farm

Ratting Tales

Above: Larry spinning a story

Right: A sorry tail - rat, mouse or what?

Above: All smiles as the results are finalised
Right: Ian handing over one of the prizes