Ratastic News Week “Chaos Edition”
Does it ever feel to you that everything in the world is just spiraling out of control? It does to us too, especially when it comes to rat infestations. And on the East Coast, the problem is spiraling into a chaos that can only be called apocalyptic in nature. Holy water and prayer won’t work, and rats are so smart, and adapt so quickly, they’re like the Borg of the animal world. “Resistance is futile.” Or is it? We’ll go to Washington DC and find out what they’re using to control the genius rats that have taken over, and take a snapshot of other places on the East Coast. The other thing we will talk about is the alarming number of wild animals and birds who are being killed unintentionally by rat poison. It’s a subject we’ve talked about before but the numbers of unintended target animals that are dying has risen to proportions that wildlife and environmental experts are advocating banning the use of them.
Answer to last weeks: Q “What makes the mouse and giraffe similar?” A– They both have seven vertebrae in their neck.
This week’s Question: Hystricidae Muridae Myocastoridae Nesomyidae are all examples of what kind of Mammal?
East Coast Rat Populations Spiraling Out of Control; Humans Work to Outwit Genius Rats
The East Coast is really under fire by armies of rats that are working their way from city to city, and spreading from cities outward to the suburbs. In this article, we will explore various methods East Coast cities are using to control these huge rat populations—everything from traps to dry ice to poisons to strictly enforcing rat control policies in the general population—working together to eradicate rats. Mild winters are allowing rats to reproduce more than they normally would be able to seasonally, and that, coupled with an increase of people interested in backyard farming and hobby farming along with other factors like leaving trash accessible to rats and feeding birds in the backyard and not picking up pet droppings equal a rat population explosion that is being felt almost everywhere. NPR quotes a rat control expert as to one major reason why the problem is happening: “”[The rats] shut down [their] reproduction during the really cold months, where it’s snow and ice and sub-freezing temperatures. Well we haven’t had those like that for a whole decade. We hypothesize that the city rats are likely getting in another litter.” The problem is also in Boston, spreading to Shirley and other suburban areas from the city, and Washington DC. Rat control in health departments and private companies are using rat traps, dry ice, and poison. Time Magazine adds that the rat problem in DC has been so bad that rats have been known to scurry over people’s feet as they leave buildings. ““Rats adapt to everything. They can be like geniuses,” a rat control expert said. On the grounds of a church, rat control workers from the Health Department poke around, expertly spotting telltale holes and matted dirt trails that signal rat burrows. One of them uses an instrument like an extra-long Super Soaker to inject poison into the hole, while the other watches to see if the white powder puffs up from other holes and then shovels dirt to block those exits.” A woman in Cape Cod who kept goats in her backyard had to learn to pick up rat droppings and cover
their hay after initially calling in an exterminator who laid traps in order to control the rats that started moving in to the goat barn, driving the goats out of the barn at one point. Rat control expert Travers adds, “To keep a rat population at bay, Travers says people should be careful not to feed the birds year-round, keep any backyard animal pens clean of food, and make sure that trash is stored in sealed receptacles. “I always say if you want to figure out what’s going on with rats, hold up a mirror,” Dr Corrigan said. “Many times, rats are barometer reading of the environmental health that we control, with our refuse and clutter and backyards.”
In Shirley, MA, rat control officials have declared Defcon 5 on the rats. The Sentinel and Enterprise reports that measures the town took to enforce rat control policies amongst the residents has taken care of their rat problem: “[A family] had taken extreme measures such as setting dozens of traps around the house, he said, as well as sealing up any gaps where rats could get in. Earlier this month, the residents, fearful things would get worse and that the local health board and the Board of Selectmen were not taking the situation seriously, formed a kind of impromptu action committee and showed up in force at a selectmen meeting. The selectmen’s response was to form a task force to brainstorm solutions to the problem, part of which hinged on ensuring that rodent
control and prevention measures provided by the health board were being enforced. Howlett, who was in on the brainstorming session, assured them that those who did not comply with instructions, such as clearing yards of cast-off furniture and debris, storing trash properly and keeping pet food indoors, would be fined. Most people had cleaned up, he said. That was pretty much the case during Friday’s site walk, although Grossman spotted a couple of houses with full trash bags outside that he would later check up on, he said.” The team approach—city officials working with the general population so that everyone takes responsibility for cleaning up their yards, properly disposing of trash in specially made city provided trash cans, and doing repairs on homes to prevent rodents getting in seems to be catching on, along with the use of snap traps which are environmentally friendly, humane and effective.
Wildlife officials in California Reveal Devastating Number of Animals and Birds Being Killed Unintentionally by Rat Poison
Eleven wildlife studies have revealed that over 85 percent of the mountain lions, bobcats and protected Pacific fishers have been exposed to rat poisons. Mercury News explains: “The department’s analysis documented rat poisons in more than 90 percent of tested mountain lions, 88 percent of tested bobcats and 85 percent of tested protected Pacific fishers. It also found that seven out of 10 endangered Northern spotted owls and 40 percent of tested barred owls had been exposed to
the poison.” The problem is as follows: Somebody lays out rat poison. Rat eats the poison and dies. A natural predator, such as a mountain lion, bobcat, or owl, finds the dead or weakened rat and eats it thus getting poisoned, a lot of times very slowly. The more poisoned rodents the cats and birds eat, the worse it is. Care2.com explains further: “These poisons aren’t just deadly, but leave their victims to suffer a slow, painful and incredibly inhumane death from internal bleeding. Because the poisons work so slowly, victims may consume large quantities over days, and once they die they become a highly toxic meal for predators and scavengers as they work their way through the food chain. Unfortunately,
they’ve continued to poison dozens of both target and non-target animals, and put people and pets at risk.” Plus, not all poisons are equal. Mercury News explains: “The department has found that first generation rat poisons, which require a rodent to eat the poisoned bait multiple times in order to kill it, does not pose a substantial risk to wildlife. However, they have found that second generation poisons, which kill with one dose, appear to cause risk and should be re-evaluated.” Regulators took action by making them unavailable to everyday consumers, but they exempted pest control companies and agricultural users, which has left a big problem – these poisons were still being put into the environment. Now the public has a chance to weigh in to decide if these second generation poisons should be taken out of the environment for good. With traps properly set in a box to ensure the safety of wildlife, children and pets, there is no worry of contamination of the environment and the animals who share it with us.
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