When Animals Attacked in Victorian Times


ANDREW GARVEY looks at Victorian animals attacks

Inspired by the recent release of the Spooky Isles’ and Red Rattle’s latest horror anthology Zombie Bites, (one of the stories is mine by the way, so, you know, make sure you give it a try) I’ve been rifling through the archives and found a couple of Victorian newspaper articles that could have been ripped straight from modern horror novels.

First up, from the November 5th 1891 edition of the Nottingham Post, a deeply unpleasant story that wouldn’t look out of place anywhere in James Herbert’s initially brilliant but later really quite tiresome ‘Rats’ trilogy.

Attacked By Rats

Animal attacks

“An old woman named Mary Cloherty, living at Middleton, Ireland, was seriously bitten by rats during Tuesday night. She awoke with the noise of fighting between her cat and the vermin, and after driving them off found the cat was dead.”
Now, a dead cat is bad enough, but this one gets worse…

“She retired to bed, but was attacked by numbers of rats and seriously injured. In the morning the neighbours came to her assistance. Her wounds were dressed, and there are hopes of her recovery.”

Yes, attacked in bed by “numbers” of rats. Sounds like all kinds of fun.

The Wasp Plague

Sticking with the animal theme, and the Nottingham Evening Post, the September 7th 1893 edition of the paper reported something that sounds like the slapdash novelisation of one of those deliberately cheesy monster movies you find on the SyFy channel.

“The wasp plague has not only covered the whole of Europe, but it has reached unprecedented altitudes. Wasps have attained to villages in the Alps 7,000ft. Above the sea, and within stinging distance of permanent glaciers.”

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Attack of the Alpine Ice Wasps

“Indeed, a party of tourists who recently proposed to spend their holiday among the eternal snows, were absolutely evicted by the insect scourge.”

Now, tell me that doesn’t sound exactly like something you’d find in the opening scene where the dread creature first appears, before unleashing more of it’s buzzing/flying/stinging Hell on the rest of humanity.

The Nottingham Evening Post clearly feared the worst, ending with the dread warning that “evidently the wasp is a destructive factor which civilisation has not estimated hitherto at its real worth.”

Sounds ominous, eh? Just consider yourselves lucky your Victorian predecessors survived the yellow-and-black peril and that (so far at least) the pointy-bummed little buggers haven’t gathered together for a renewed assault on the whole of human civilisation.


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