Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Rat Hunters of New York

Considering yesterday's post on urban foraging, I thought I would link to a few articles about rat hunting in New York:


All three articles pertain to a group called Ryder's Alley Trencher-fed Society (R.A.T.S.), which uses trained terriers to hunt and kill rats.

As you might expect, rats are prolific. The Narratively article states:
The brown rat, or Rattus norvegicus, is the most common mammal in New York City. They are incredibly productive—male brown rats may mate with up to twenty female rats in just six hours. Males have been known to mate with pregnant, juvenile and dead rats—and even other males, if there are no females around. The rat’s sexual appetite, combined with the female’s ability to conceive just hours after birth, are what make the rodent one of the fecund in the animal kingdom.

Rats are skilled city dwellers: They can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter, develop immunities to poisons, and are excellent swimmers. Some even catch fish. They can climb vertical surfaces and survive a thirty-foot fall without injury. They can cause damage, too—such as starting fires when they gnaw through wires with their sharp teeth, which are stronger than aluminum, and exert a pressure of up to seven thousand pounds per square inch. One study from Cornell University estimated that rats cause $19 billion in damage every year, the most of any introduced species in the United States.
The article also notes some preparations for the hunt:
Many owners administer Amoxcillin to their canine killers for several days before the hunt to ward off rat-borne illnesses. Pant legs duct-taped shut, they poke through trash piles with metal staffs and swing their flashlights side to side, eyes peeled for that soft, startling rustle that signifies the prey is close at hand.
Anyway, some interesting reads if you have the time.

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