Global War on Rats
May 13, 2015 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Enemy at the Grates: On the front lines of humanity’s high-tech, global war on rats.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates (36 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Need low tech mutts.

Is it our whacked out litigious society that forced effective ecologically sound rat prevention mutts to be locked up, always tied down, attached to owners? Only allowed to run free in cordoned off areas? Let the dogs run free and the rat problem will be significantly resolved.
posted by sammyo at 9:10 AM on May 13, 2015


Today’s rat campaigns are attempts to rein in the rare species that excels under our new rules. With enough effort, money, and technology, we may be able to control their numbers. But the thing about rats is that we always win the battles, but they tend to win the war.

I once lived in a building where rats climbed up a six story, ice-covered fire escape to get at a bag of trash, chewed through 5/8" drywall to infest a vacant unit, and flung themselves into the top of an open dumpster by jumping from trash cans several feet away.

They are superior beings.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:19 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Let the dogs run free and the rat problem will be significantly resolved.

...That's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas packs of feral dogs simply freeze to death.
posted by jedicus at 9:19 AM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


Global War on Rats

But rats can be used for peace as well.
posted by FJT at 9:38 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love how completely American this article reads.
posted by srboisvert at 10:00 AM on May 13, 2015


Our NYC neighborhood was absolutely overrun with rats last summer, so much so that there was a waiting list to have someone come out and plug the holes. Meanwhile the Petco down the block is selling them as pets. Weird.
posted by Mchelly at 10:01 AM on May 13, 2015


The control zone is a buffer for Alberta, but now Merrill wanted a buffer for the buffer. How far can his rat campaign go, I asked him. Forever, he said. "I know Alberta can do it. Saskatchewan has seen the vision and is two-thirds rat free already. Montana has very few rats; they could be rat free. Vancouver, New York, port cities would be more difficult, but eventually I think we can win there, too. I think the world — we’re winning. We’re going to win."

That, son, is called "hubris" by them latte-sippin' big city intellectual elites.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:23 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


A half-baked theory of mine: We most hate the animals who are most like us.

Rats are a lot like us.
posted by clawsoon at 10:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]




Alberta patrols its border with Saskatchewan for rats, but it forgot to patrol for the NDP.

/joke
posted by clawsoon at 10:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


SKINNER: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
LISA: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
SKINNER: No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
LISA: But aren't the snakes even worse?
SKINNER: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
LISA: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
SKINNER: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
posted by Fizz at 10:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


But when rats arrived, these ecological niches became smorgasbords. Burrowing, ground-nesting, and flightless birds were eaten quickly. Baby tortoises were gnawed to death. Rats are responsible for about half of all bird and reptile extinctions on islands, according to Gregg Howald of the group Island Conservation.
Lemme guess: Humans are responsible for the other half of bird and reptile extinctions on these islands, give or take a few percentage points?
posted by clawsoon at 10:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Need low tech mutts.

Fuck that. High tech anti-rat terminators. Wee tiny H-Ks and robotic tanks just murdering away, and cleanup bots to take the bodies to the mulcher units and build mountains from their little rat skulls.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:40 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


This article is fantastic, from the delightful anti-rat propaganda posters to the bombastic quotes: "Because I have the power, the resources, to kill rats, and hereby save species from going extinct, I choose to use that power."

... Probably I should call the rat nest down my block in to animal control instead of just thinking they're kinda cute and leaving them alone.
posted by asperity at 10:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, all the dogs being walked past the rat nest just pause and look confused. Pretty sure none of them would be able to figure out what to do with the rats if given the opportunity.
posted by asperity at 10:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who imagined how "Ratatouille" would respond to the Alberta propaganda in the "Your Friend the Rat" short.
posted by Megafly at 11:08 AM on May 13, 2015


Let the dogs run free and the rat problem will be significantly resolved.

I'm all for low-tech solutions. But.

Why choose between being overrun by feral dogs or rats when you can have both?

Granted, that last link is to a 1992 article on rats in Bucharest, so don't know if the intervening years of a rising feral dog population have improved the rat situation or not.

But it may serve as a proxy for how effective that solution might end up being.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:16 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile the Petco down the block is selling them as pets.

The domesticated rats sold as pets, aka fancy rats, are not the same as wild/feral rats. It's not quite a poodles vs. wolves level of domestication, but it's probably something like golden retrievers vs. dingoes.

And FWIW, domesticated rats make surprisingly good pets. They are sort of my personal favorite rodentia. Kind of the Rodney Dangerfield of the small-animal world though; they just get no respect.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Lemme guess: Humans are responsible for the other half of bird and reptile extinctions on these islands, give or take a few percentage points?

It's all humans, really, but in the Caribbean mongoose are mostly responsible (deliberate human introduction) and on some Pacific islands I think introduced snakes are a huge problem.
posted by snofoam at 11:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Rats are great pets. Like tiny stupid dogs. They beg for food, and have adorable little people hands.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


So the Death of Rats is really from Alberta.
posted by arcticseal at 11:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Seconding the point that the domesticated rats kept as pets are more than a little distinct from your average eighteen inch long dumpster dweller -- especially if you buy them from a breeder, and not Petco, so that they're properly socialized with people and consequently tend to think of us either as a delightful obstacle course or particularly slow, oversized, underheated, funny-smelling dumbo rats who have somehow obtained access to ALL the foods and ALL the treats and maybe this is why we are so enormous????

The comparison to dogs isn't misplaced, either. I've known pet rats who came when their names were called and/or do tricks. Some are litter-trained. One rat I knew really loved traveling around with his owner in the hoods of her sweatshirts, and then poking his wee adorable face out the back at people.
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile the Petco down the block is selling them as pets. Weird.

Well, they make great pets. They're smart, cute, and really affectionate.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:00 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


This article is fantastic, from the delightful anti-rat propaganda posters to the bombastic quotes: "Because I have the power, the resources, to kill rats, and hereby save species from going extinct, I choose to use that power."

We have the traps. We have the poison. We need exterminators! Exterminators like Dale Gribble ("You peed in your last old man's kitchen."). Service guarantees citizenship! Would you like to know more?
posted by officer_fred at 12:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


domesticated rats make surprisingly good pets.

Until you become allergic and if you have them long enough you will. Ask anyone who has done animal testing on rats.

They are wonderful pets though. I had seven over a 15 year period. They're like clever little dogs with hands. Also they are only a couple of years of commitment rather than up to two decades.
posted by srboisvert at 12:39 PM on May 13, 2015


Not only are fancy rats different from wild rats, Norwegian rats found in port cities are just sooo big and gross.

True Fact: while working in a mice infested port restaurant, I used to be thankful that we had mice. Better that than the alternative of giant rats that can chew through everything. *shudder*
posted by Gor-ella at 12:49 PM on May 13, 2015


So the Death of Rats is really from Alberta.

SQUEAK, EH?
posted by Anne Neville at 12:59 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Got it. #notallrats
posted by Mchelly at 1:11 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]




Now I want to build tiny remote-controlled tanks, and build a game-like user interface. Patrol the NYC sewers and subways, blasting rats as you go! Sadly, humans could not be trusted with such a tool, as they would rapidly be used for voyeurism and drug deliveries, those that weren't used to assault siblings and neighbors.
posted by Blackanvil at 1:22 PM on May 13, 2015


One naturally wonders whether the rat rules will remain the same after Alberta's recent election of a more inclusive socialist government.
posted by fredludd at 1:47 PM on May 13, 2015


Until you become allergic and if you have them long enough you will. Ask anyone who has done animal testing on rats.

This was my experience, too, yeah. That part really sucked.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:53 PM on May 13, 2015


Our NYC neighborhood was absolutely overrun with rats last summer

I was told that it was to protect the hawks. Poisoned rats would kill the hawks that fed on them.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:25 PM on May 13, 2015


Fizz: "But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards? [...]"

Gah, there was a story along these lines in Omni years ago, but I can't remember who wrote it.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:53 PM on May 13, 2015


From the article: Preserved rat corpses were exhibited at schools and fairs,

How interesting. There are often displays of preserved fruit at Australian agricultural shows. Plus ça change, eh?
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:05 PM on May 14, 2015


I like how rats fall under the purview of the Alberta Department of Health's Division of Entomology.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:26 AM on May 19, 2015


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