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Internet users given power to shoot rat using their keyboards in controversial art experiment

A German artist will give web users the power to shoot a rat via their keyboards Credit: PA

A German artist has launched an experiment that will give web users the power to shoot a rat with a click of their keyboard or smartphone.

Beginning today, Florian Mehnert will set up a webcam to broadcast a rat living in its enclosure for 11 days. On March 24 the rodent will be left to the mercy of anonymous internet users and a loaded gun.

Mehnert said that the installation, called 11 Days, is a protest against the use of military drones - both as weapons and as tools of surveillance.

The 11 Days installation promoted on the artist's website Credit: Florain Mehnert

The 44-year-old said that he expected protests but said that he "has to cross borders" and wanted to show that people can kill using the internet.

"A rat dies for the service of art. I would also prefer it would not be necessary. But people nowadays are so so jaded because art has to commit a transgression," Mehnert told Suddeutsche.

People have registered for their chance to take pot shots at the rat, with a survey on the website showing that almost 40% of voters thought the rodent should die.

Germany's Humane Society criticised the experiment, telling RP Online, "There is no good reason" for the installation.

The country's animal welfare laws prohibit the infliction of pain, suffering or injury on an animal without reasonable cause, but as Mehnert will not be the person pulling the trigger, it is unclear if he can be held responsible if the rat is shot.