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Letter: Action needed to control new rat

This creature can move extremely fast, is an excellent climber, is omnivorous, is nocturnal, and has a remarkable ability to reproduce.

Editor: The Standard

For a few hundred years the only rat we had in North America, except for our ‘pack rat’, was the Norway rat, which is believed to have been introduced to our shores by early sailing ships. Quite recently, however, the ‘black rat’ has been introduced to our land, quite likely by the same means. These are the same rats that carried a number of pathogens via the rat flea during Roman times.

This creature can move extremely fast, is an excellent climber, is omnivorous, is nocturnal, and has a remarkable ability to reproduce. It has been introduced to a largely untapped food source. If they gain access to a fiberglass-insulated wall, they can destroy it within hours.

I suspect it will be very difficult to feed our songbirds without attracting these rodents. Once they are attracted to birdseed, they will surely look for and find other food sources. Their remarkable ability to climb provides them with a food source that was not available to the Norway rat – for instance, baby birds and eggs, fruit and berries.

Only one system of safe control works and it will be most difficult with this one: i.e. store anything edible in rat-proof containers and close off nesting site areas.

I expect it will rapidly adapt and make use of natural nesting sites such as under logs and boulders. Just to give an example of how versatile they are – I caught one eating a mouse! I find it difficult to understand why our town council or department of agriculture has not issued a press release.

The indiscriminate use of poison can be disastrous.

J. L. DeLair,

Hope

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