Rattastic Newsflash Pest Control Edition

Avatar Andrew Cole

This week in the news we find out rats are truly everywhere on this planet, even Antarctica!   The government of British Columbia in Canada tells Kelowna, BC residents they are on their own in dealing with a rat explosion in the area, a  rat-tastrophe is occurring in the Witch City of Salem, Massachusetts, and the Mother Earth News asks the question that we’ve all been wondering about that famous witch familiar—would unleashing shelter cats as feral cats on rat populations be effective?  Finally, even DisneyWorld has a dark side—where a rat has bitten a man in the Magic Kingdom!

Antarctica is a place far away to most of us, and one would think its remoteness would mean that it would be a rat-free place. Not so.   On South Georgia Island, famous for being the place Shackleton boated over to a harrowing two-week period to save his men on uninhabited Elephant Island after his ship, the Endurance, was crushed by pack ice in 1917.  The rats came to South Georgia Island with the whalers and sealers who hunted the Scotia Sea back in the day and have been there ever since. They threaten the island’s bird population, and so an expedition has been working to eradicate the rats just as the 5,000 descendants of feral reindeer brought by Norwegian whalers as a food source were gotten rid  of by the same project because the reindeer were destroying the tussac grass, which is habitat for the endangered albatross.    The Vancouver Sun sent a reporter to this remote island for 18 days to track how the rat eradication efforts were going.  Costing 7.3 million UK pounds (1,039,719.00 USD).    In 2011, 336 tones of rat poison were brought in by helicopter, which are pellets made of cereal grains bound with a poison specially formulated by an American company so it won’t degrade too fast, and most importantly, won’t kill other wildlife, especially the birds.   The rats die within 3-7 days of eating the poison, and since they don’t know they’re sick till the 3rd day, they can’t pass on information about the poison to other rats.   At the end of April, the plan is to unleash dogs to see if there are any rats remaining.  When no rats remain, the project will be deemed a success.  

Meanwhile, in Canada, The Kelowna Daily Courier reports that the residents of Kelowna, British Columbia are being overrun by a population explosion of rats, and the city has no plan to get rid of them.   The city appealed to the Canadian government for funding, but to no avail.   The government has told the residents that they are on their own and need to implement prevention strategies like picking up trash, getting sealed trash containers, and taking care of potential food sources, sealing up holes in their homes, etc.   Perhaps the rat-free province of Alberta should be consulted!

Flying over to the Witch City of Salem, MA, where their cop cars and the newspaper masthead  of The Salem News features a witch on a broom, perhaps the city has been cursed as rat complaints are escalating, as a rat-trastophe unfolds in front of the eyes of horrified residents of Peabody—rats are their way into houses, going through the trash for food, and as it happens, it’s not just happening in Peabody.  The rat population has doubled in Salem from 2016-2017.  While Salem has taken control measures such as sealed trash containers, and does not allow residents to put plastic trash bags on the curb, rodent activity is increasing.  Some residents have laid poison and a couple dead rats have been seen reposing in eternal rest in a backyard—but it’s not enough.   The State Department of Public Health has granted them a quarter of a million dollars to implement a rat control plan, which includes a multi-prong approach including environmental sanitation, proper food storage, rodent proofing of homes and businesses, trapping (check out our shop!) and poisoning.    Another measure may be to get the witches of Salem together to work a spell to send the rats back across the sea from whence they came with the early New England immigrants.    Hey.  If it works for the New England Patriots to win a football game, it could work for the rats.   Just saying.

Or, perhaps as Mother Nature News explores in an article posted March 20, perhaps the popular witch familiar, the cat, is the solution.   Chicago is seriously looking at feral cats as a solution.  Given the dubious honor of being named as Orkin’s rattiest city three years running, Chicago isn’t playing games anymore.   Cats have been hunting rats for over 9,000 years, and domestication hasn’t taken the desire for cat to hunt rat away.   And so, last November, a Chicago alderman suggested bringing on the feral cats as a solution to the city’s rat problem.   One million dollars and five rat crews are barely making a dent in the issue, so why not?   Cats could be a “green” and humane way to exterminate rats, and some organizations like the Tree House Animal Society and the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, DC think it’s a great idea, and offer programs such as Tree House Cats at Work and Blue Collar Cats as possible solutions.   Both programs offer vaccinated cat colonies to populate an area business or home.  The cats are spayed or neutered, and the “employers” provide the cats with food and acclimation to the environment and are provided with dog crates so that the cats will want to return to a home area rather than simply run off.    After a month, the cats can be released from the crates to go to work.   The cats mark the area they work with scent and urine so can be a great deterrent to any rats moving in.   Sounds like a purr-fect solution!

The Happiest Place on Earth really wasn’t for one poor brave man who was bitten by a rat that he grabbed to get it off his wife’s wheelchair, and now he’s suing Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.  The Orlando Sentinel reports that the couple had just finished with the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin in Tomorrowland when a very large rat ran into the merchandise store next to the ride.  The rat was spotted, and as often happens, a melee ensued.  Somebody screamed “Rat!” and kicked the rat which landed on this fellow’s wife’s wheelchair and in what was already a traumatic event for the rat, was grabbed by the man—the rat, having reached his capacity for excitement, promptly bit the man’s finger and then had  its neck twisted, was tossed to the floor where an empty plastic container was thrown over it.    The rat was promptly removed by a Disney employee.   The couple are suing for 15,000.00 for medical expenses, disfigurement, physical handicap and mental anguish.   Imagine how the rat must have felt!



Tags: Boston, Chicago, Kelowna, Pest Control, Rat infestation

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