Flooded Seine river and banks in Paris
Credit: Getty Images

It’s among Parisians’ favorite facts that rats outnumber people in the city.

Last month, as the Seine flooded, hundreds of rats emerged from Paris’s waterways and onto the streets, documented in many disconcerting videos.

In efforts to eliminate the infestation, Parisians have tried a number of unconventional approaches, including bringing cats into top government buildings. But the newest method is taken from the pages of Parisian history: The Paris suburb of Aubervilliers has installed guillotines in the sewers to kill rats.

After using infrared cameras to detect the rats’ paths through the sewers, the city installed a series of heat sensors that detect rats as they crawl through. A series of blades fall from above, crush the rat’s spinal cord and cause “death in a split second,” one of the developers told Le Parisien. Much like the famous guillotine of the French Revolution, the killing machine is thought to be painless so that “the rat hardly suffers.”

During the first month of testing, the historical reincarnation has killed 45 rats, according to a local housing group in Aubervilliers.

The mechanical guillotine is in testing through the end of March. If deemed successful, it could roll out to sewers across the city.