Ratastic News Week “A Plague On Both Your Houses” Edition

David Bennett

Shakespeare makes an appearance this week in his quote from Romeo and Julietthat happens to apply perhaps more literally than even Shakespeare intended when two tourists in Mongolia contracted a direct descendant of the bubonic plague that devastated the population of Europe in the 14thcentury and illustrates again why nobody should eat rodents. A cougar who died as a result of rat poison demonstrates the ongoing issue of collateral damage from the usual suspect–rat poison, and in Texas, we find a city building infested with rats!

Last week’s quiz question!  How many rats are on a chicken farm?

Answer: One rat for every five chickens! (20,000 chickens on a farm equals a significant problem)

This week’s quiz question: Summer is coming! We buy fans and air conditioners. How do rats stay cool?


A Marmot Dinner On the Border of Russia and Mongolia Unleashes Bubonic Plague

It’s okay if you don’t know what a marmot is.  It seems that this particular story will propel marmots into unintentional fame.  Marmot are rodents, a giant squirrel basically, and historians have suggested that marmots, rather than rats, were the primary carriers of bubonic plague during several historical outbreaks. This story, which is taking place on the border between Mongolia and Russia, seems to be providing some basis for this thought, when two tourists, a man and his pregnant wife, killed and ate a marmot then promptly contracted the bubonic plague from ingesting the meat.  They died, leaving four children orphans. The New York Daily News and The Siberian Times state that the town of Uglii in Mongolia, which is on the border with Russia is under quarantine because of the deaths.   The Siberian Times goes on: “Dramatic pictures have shown at least one aircraft being met by anti-contamination emergency workers in a bid to prevent spread of the disease. The local town of Ulgii (or Ölgii) on the border with Russia was shut for quarantine by Mongolian health authorities and army.  Several dozen tourists from all over the world had to alter their holiday plans, and are now waiting to hear when they might be allowed to leave the town.”   The New York Daily News explains how the strain the couple died from is particularly bad: “Officials with the emergency management department in Bayan-Ulgii province confirmed to the Siberian Times that preliminary testing revealed the couple died Wednesday from a direct descendant of the same highly contagious disease that claimed the lives of 50 million people during the 14th century.  The couple, who leave behind four children, seemingly contracted the plague after the 38-year-old male victim hunted and ate marmot found in the area, “despite the fact that eating marmots is banned,” according Mongolia’s animal disease center head Dr. N. Tsogbadrakh.”

Don’t eat raw rodents, or slugs, or centipedes!!   The couple ate this marmot and internal organs raw, which is never a good idea.  Since humans can contract over 30 different diseases including leptospirosis, hantavirus and the plague from living rodents, it doesn’t seem a good idea to intentionally eat them raw.  One wonders what was wrong with the airplane food that these two took such extraordinary measures to hunt and eat what amounts to a giant squirrel.  Adventure? Notoriety?


Collateral Damage:  Yet Another California Mountain Lion Dies as Rat Poison Suspected

As we’ve written about before, a lot of collateral damage can happen as a result of second generation rat poisons that rats eat, that set off an unintentional chain reaction in the wild—rat eats the poison, predatory birds and animals eat the rat, you get the idea.   ABC7.com reports that a mountain lion has died in the Santa Monica, California mountains and the primary suspect is rat poison.  “A local mountain lion known as P-47 was found dead in the Santa Monica Mountains, and lab results indicate rat poison could be to blame.  P-47’s remains were discovered on March 21 after his GPS collar sent out a mortality signal.  Biologists hiked in to find him in the central portion of the mountain range. The 3-year-old male did not have any visible wounds.” Unfortunately poison is not the problem, it’s the carless deployment of, the when ,where and how to implement which causes adverse results.


The Public Building From Hell: William P. Hobby Building in Austin Texas Subject of Hundreds of Pest Control Work Orders

The William P. Hobby Building in Austin, Texas is an impressive state office building in downtown.   Belying its professional image, the reality inside seems to be something from a horror film where all the horrors come from the ceiling.  Rats dropping from ceilings.  Ants raining down on people from the ceilings.   (Read our related article about rats in ceilings) Hundreds of work orders for rats and other pests have been submitted to the Texas Facilities Commission, which is the property manager for a lot of state buildings. The Texas Tribune shared some chilling anecdotes which also shows there’s a fair amount of stigma attached to rat infestations in public places: “In one work order, ants were dropping from the ceiling onto an employee’s hands while she worked at her computer. In another, an employee put on a coat at the end of the day, and a live rat jumped out of the pocket. Other work orders described cockroaches crawling across desks, in urinals and jumping out of desk drawers. Some employees reported being bitten by bugs while in the office. And employees often reported hearing rats moving around in the ceiling, sometimes shaking the ceiling tiles. For the employees who work there, rat sightings are commonplace. Since September 2010, employees have reported and requested services to deal with rats close to every month of every year, records show. Employees have requested services for roaches, ants and other bugs at the same rate. “The first thing I was told [when I was hired] was, ‘Be aware, there’s rats. Your food isn’t safe in the file cabinets and be sure to keep your food in metal containers,’” said one state employee, who started working in the building in 2014 and asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “    Due to budgetary management, there is only one full time employee who handles pest control services for the Hobby Building and 40 other properties.   While precautions have been taken and the building inspected and sealed against incursions by pests, the building is located near a lot of restaurants that pose particular challenges in pest control.  The Texas State Legislature is trying to sell the building because it’s become so expensive to maintain.  It seems this building would be an excellent candidate for exclusion measures like our RODEXIT door sweeps!


PS. Eating dinner at a Five Guys Restaurant, observed it had a brush door sweep. This exclusion method has challenges.

Brush strips issues

Wildly deployed in Commercial buildings, Public facilities, Private Houses.

Brush Strips are venerable to rodents (Mice and rats Carriers of several deadly and chronic diseases when used in any application.)

In commercial buildings industrial double swing door applications, the lower astragal gap (Gap at bottom between doors) is problematic to secure for blocking rodent entry.

Aluminum protection strips often used for mounting, proving fragile if pallet jacks or Forklifts are used.

Traditionally short life, due to dirt accumulation, brush fibers become brittle, lose flexibility and sealing properties.






Tags: bubonic plague, Center for Disease Control, Door sweeps, Eco Friendly, Exclusion, Fenn Trap, Integrated Pest Management, IPM, Mole traps, National Pest Management Association, National Wildlife Control Operators Association, Norway rats, NPMA, NWCOA, NYPMA, Pest Control, PestWorld2019, Rat poisen, Rodexit

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