Ratastic News week, November 4th, 2019 “Homicidal Relaxed Driving Rats” Edition!

David Bennett David Bennett | November 3, 2019 | Pest Control


It used to be, in the early days of the car, that driving would be advertised as relaxing, and even freeing.  But with millions more cars on the road than 100 years ago, driving is probably a lot of folks’ least favorite activity.  Except for rats!   Find out in this edition how driving relaxes rats and teaches us more about the complexity of the human brain!    Also in this edition, we look at the wonderful world of evolutionary adaptation in how the Australian water rat is actually fighting an infestation of non-native cane toads in ways that are absolutely amazing and showcase how darned smart rodents can be!



Last week’s quiz question: How many species of marmots (large squirrels really) are in the world?

Answer: There are 14 species of marmots in the world but only 2 in the Rocky Mountains

This week’s quiz question: What is the smallest rodent in the world?



NASCAR Move Over! Rats Learn to Drive and Find it Utterly Relaxing in Scientific Study

They play hide and seek!  They push buttons and levers, and make their way through confusing mazes!  Now they’ve learned to drive like Stuart Little! Not many people would say they find driving relaxing.  Ads from the 1950’s showing happy families cruising the nation’s highways in their convertibles with big smiles on their faces belie the annoyance we may feel having to drive in rush hour traffic in the big cities every day, and even the road trip may be full of anxiety.   Not so for the rats in a study in an ongoing research study at the University of Richmond!  Video showing them cruising in their little cars seems like fun, but is actually a study to understand the complexities of the brain and ultimately to

help depression and anxiety in human beings.  NBCNews explains: ““The rat is an appropriate model for the human brain in many ways since it has all the same areas and neurochemicals as the human brain — just smaller, of course,” said Kelly Lambert, professor of behavioral neuroscience at the university and a co-author of a paper about the research published Oct. 16 in the journal Behavioural Brain Research. “Although humans are more complex than rats, we look for ‘universal truths’ about how brains interact with environments to maintain optimal mental health.”    Normally, rat poop is gross, but scientists find a lot of answers to their questions in poop!   Analysis of the poop of driving rats found a high level of the stress busting hormone DHEA and lower levels of the stress hormone corticosterone. Scientists say that’s because the rats feel like they have more control over their environment when they’re driving the car.    The video shows the rats tooling around in their little cars like Mister Toad in “Wind in The Willows!”  You almost wait for the little buggers to cry “Poop! Poop!” victoriously as they drive!


Cunning “Ripper” Australian Water Rats Have Figured Out How to Murder Cane Toad Invader Without Dying

Cane toads were meant to be a solution to a problem.  Instead, as often happens when non-native predators are brought in, they became the problem.   It all started in the 1930’s when beetles were devouring sugar cane crops.  Pesticides were a last resort, so other solutions were being sought.  Word traveled that there existed a toad that loved nothing more than to eat these beetles, so to make a long story short, somebody took a suitcase (it was the 1930’s…) and as LiveScience explains, somebody went to get the toads: “In 1935, two suitcases of South American cane toads made the journey from Puerto Rico where a similar scheme was successful to Hawaii and then on to Australia. Rather than hang out in the cane fields though, those original 102 toads set out across the continent and have mushroomed in number to more than 1.5 billion.”   The toads are poisonous (dogs love them!  They lick the toads for a trippy high! It’s all good until the dog eats one and ODs on the poison).   The toads are also sex machines.  They’ll mate with anything including humping rocks, clumps of dirt, and human feet (which might be a trippy experience in itself.  You’re sitting on your porch and you feel a thumping on your foot.  There’s the toad in ecstasy on your sexy, sexy foot.  Action is action, right?)   Oh, by the way, they didn’t eat the beetles, so when you talk about major fail, well, this was definitely a major, major fail.   And now they’re not only in the top 100 most invasive species list, they’re also possibly the most hated invasive species in like, EVER. They kill native animals (because they’re poisonous).  Some native animals are perilously close to extinction because of the cane toad. 


Enter the Australian water rat, aka the Jack the Ripper of rodents.

The buggers have figured out a way to almost surgically murder the cane toads.  They hold down the cane toad on its back and incise the thoracic area,  and remove the poisonous gall bladder and eat the liver while the toad is still alive. They’ll also peel back the poisonous skin and eat the non-toxic muscle meat underneath.   How did they learn to do this?   All the more amazingly, they’re teaching their offspring how to kill cane toads.  That makes the Australian water rat less a pest and more of a key predatory helper in eradicating the cane toad!   Because there was one more amazing fact about the cunning Australian water rat—they were mostly killing the LARGER, more poisonous cane toads.  The Guardian explains:  “They have very strong sharp teeth, very dextrous little hands. They can pick up a fish or a yabby and open them up very quickly and target the areas they like.”

(Translation a Yabby refers to little shrimp in Australian.)

According to the paper, researchers observed 38 toad carcasses, floating in the river or on the creekbank, over 15 days.

“All carcasses had an incision in the chest area, measuring [on average] 10.8mm vertically and 12.2mm horizontally,” it said.

“There was no evidence of bites to the head or body of the partially consumed toads. Rather, the rats appeared to hold the toad on its back and then incise the thoracic cavity to consume organs while the toad was still alive.”

Parrott, a reproductive biologist at Zoos Victoria, said another astonishing finding was the size of the dead toads. While only 2.5% of the toads in the region were classified as large toads, the big toads made up 74% of the bodycount. “

Who says rats are pests?   It’s absolutely astonishing how smart rodents can be!   And they’re helping us in some cases.    So the focus in Australia now is to conserve the water rat, who are prey to foxes, and can be caught in fishing line and nets.   Adaptation is the key to survival whether it be human or rat, and we have been adapting together over thousands of years.   Let’s lift a pint to the wily Australian water rat!  Cheers, mate!





Thanks to numerous PMPs and others who took time reviewing and purchased RodeXit proofing strips for exclusion at PestWorld2019 which proved and continues to be popular.



Here is an example, for shutting rodents out, incorporating materials, designed so it prevents entry of mice and rats, using embedded 1mm thick stainless-steel wires positioned a scientific distance apart denying mice and rats.


  • The distance between the edges and the first wire is 3 mm.
  • The diameter of the wires is 1 mm.
  • The distance between the wires is only 5 mm.
  • According to Robert Corrigan a small mouse requires a crevice opening of 6 mm (Page 108 in ”Rodent Control – A Practical Guide For Pest Management Professionals”) so the 5 mm is too little for a mouse.



This is the cross section:


Ease of installation.

Significant benefit of RodeXit is ease of installation, review video of young lady mounting on manual swing door using RodeXit WAVE door sweep, having only  had basic instruction, completing the task  in less than 2½ minutes.



Finally, in endeavor for helping pest control companies – formidable equipment plays a crucial part, value when customers share stories,  images of their success, this image was sent this week of the Fenn Trap trap MK 4 catching 2 rats simultaneously and was  accompanied with praise for how effective and long lasting these traps are.  


Tags: Eco Friendly, Exclusion, Fenn Trap, Fenn Traps, Food quality and safety, Instructional, Integrated Pest Management, IPM, Mk 4 Fenn Trap, Multi family housing, National Pest Management Association, National Wildlife Control Operators Association, New York City, Norway rats, NPMA, NWCOA, NYPMA, PCOC, Pest management, Pest Proofing, Public Health, Quality Assurance, Rodent exclusion, Rodexit

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