Ratastic News week of September 1st , 2019 “Best Laid Plans of Rats and Men” Edition
David Bennett | September 1, 2019 | Pest Control
Robert Burns wrote a famous poem apologizing to a mouse for turning up its nest with a plow. The mouse well may have responded to the loss of its home by moving into a human house—and its owner may have tried various schemes to rid the house of the mouse. It’s a war we’ve been waging for millennia since the fortunes of rats and mice linked itself to humanity for survival. This edition looks at a plan to stop rats eating garden tomatoes, and just in time for back to school, we see how the demolition of a school started a major rat infestation in Massachusetts, and finally, rats again appear on the scene assisting humans in reversing aging—who knows where that plan may lead—perhaps to the fountain of youth? As Burns says in his poem “To A Mouse,” “the best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men often go awry!” (or, if you’re a fan of Scots Gaelic, the line reads “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley”!)
Last week’s quiz question! What species of rat is heavily influenced in activity based on the amount of moonlight it is exposed to?
Answer: Rattis villosissimus or Australian long haired rat
Image on right is attributed to the source on Wiki Media, please read about this rat and acknowledgment of photographer in link below.
By Benjamint444 – Own work, GFDL 1.2,
This week’s quiz question: What is the third most widespread species of rat in the world behind the brown rat and black rat?
How to Keep Rats Out of Your BLT
Ah, the BLT! The classic American sandwich! In California, the quest to save the BLT is underway as the state experiences a huge rat invasion. Some enterprising gardeners in California have figured out a way to outwit the cunning rat, who loves sweet, delicious tomatoes! One enterprising fellow is using fine window screen to wrap his tomato clusters with. Mercury News reports: “I cut the screen into about 1 foot sheet or smaller if
necessary. I then wrap individual tomato clusters in the pliable screen. When I have a basket of sorts around the cluster, I fasten it closed with clothes pins. I might need five or six pins depending on the size of the cluster. It worked so ell this year that I could have my neighbors over for BLT sandwiches.” He also used this method to protect his fig crop. Another advocated picking all of the tomatoes off
the plant and wrapping the green ones in paper bags to ripen. If you pick them all, the rats can’t have any, right? Another imaginative gardener purchased a 3 ft long inflatable rattlesnake (!!) and she moves it around every couple of days. She claims it’s a big deterrent to rats. If so, we all may want to give up the traps and poison and give the blow-up snake a try. However, be warned–it could be a hazard to the viability of pest control companies! Can you imagine! Your pest control business wiped out by a three dollar blow up snake? Perhaps not.
School Demolition Unleashes a Tide of Rats in Massachusetts Even Stephen King Would Be Amazed About
Ah, Maine—home to the thrillers of Stephen King and the horrors of pet cemeteries, mutant rats, psychokinetic prom queens, and possessed classic cars! A small town in Massachusetts unintentionally unleashed Rattageddon when they decided to tear down an old elementary school that had been closed for ten years. You can imagine what ten years’ worth of a rat infestation looks like. When they pulled the school down, the tide of rats was unleashed and there was no place else to go except everywhere in town! There were rats getting run over on the street. There were rat droppings in people’s yards. There were rats scurrying everywhere after what must have been a frightening and forcible eviction! The Herald News describes the scene: ““Every building that is demolished (in Fall River) has to have pest control before a permit was issued. That was done, but that doesn’t mean they might not be moving in in the meantime,” said Glenn Hathaway, the city’s director of inspectional services. “There were delays and a pile of rubble. I think the pile of rubble attracted them.” Though he didn’t see any of the animals himself, Hathaway said his office received complaints from residents living around the demolition site. He also said he saw some of the run-over rats Soares reported seeing. To address the problem, Hathaway took out a contract with a pest control company to set traps for the rats and to identify where the animals were most concentrated. Bi-weekly inspections of the area revealed that many of the rats had started congregating at the remains of a former playground next to the school. Since poison traps were laid out there earlier this summer, Hathaway said the number of pest complaints has dropped. Though sightings appear to be down, Hathaway is still urging residents around the former school to not put out food for birds and squirrels that could also be eaten by rats.” Sound advice! This is a town who has their rat control chops refined and ready to go!
If not done so and as we are in week for many of kids going back to school, recommend reading
Rats Might Help You Look Younger! Maybe It Could Reverse Aging, But We Have a Lot to Learn Til Then
A lot of us may be in search of the fabled Fountain of Youth—and scientists may have stumbled on a piece of it. Scientists have discovered that the environment cells live in determines how fast they age. This means aging is driven by environment rather
than cells, which is a totally different way of thinking of aging. They’ve managed to reverse aging by singling out a protein that could be used to trick stem cells to think they are in a softer, younger environment. Newsweek explains: “Researchers studied oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) in young and old rat brains, and found they were affected by stiffness in the organ caused by aging. These stem cells, meaning they can turn into other types of cell, are found in the central nervous system. The team also found that a protein called Piezo1, which senses how stiff its surroundings are, could be harnessed to trick stem cells into thinking they were in a younger, softer environment. Deleting the protein from the OPCs in older rat brains appeared to make them behave younger. Taking OPCs from older rats and putting them in younger rodents was also found to rejuvenate the cells. Kevin Chalut, a biophysicist at the University of Cambridge and co-author of the study published in the journal Nature told Newsweek: “The study tells us that
aging, at least for stem cells we studied, is not driven by anything intrinsic to the cell. It is instead driven by the environment. This was already known to be a factor, but the true significance here is to show that it is the stiffness of the environment alone that drives the aging of the stem cells.” Pretty amazing, with implications for Alzheimer’s, longer life spans, and maybe regenerating organs! The lowly rat, who only lives for 18 months if allowed to live, could help us live forever. Or maybe living forever wouldn’t be a good idea. The book Tuck Everlasting showed us that lesson! Maybe we should settle for 50 being the new 20!
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