Tell me all you know about the rat! – Kokomo Herald (press release)

Written by Admin, Published on February 25th, 2017

When Robert Sullivan wrote his book Rats, he simply went to an alley cIose to Wall Street in New York City and observed the wild, urban rodent. He staked out a spot next to the trash containers and waited and watched for an entire year. I waited in rain or no rain, night after night but always at night. While New York sleeps, the nocturnal rat community comes alive. It has been written, No matter how much you love animals, there is nothing good to be said about the rat.

Rats live in our universe, surviving on the refuse effluvia of human society; in other words they dine on our waste. What is commonly referred to as a rat problem is, in reality, a problem less to do with the rat and more to do with man. With rare exceptions, rats live where humans live, therefore rats will always be a problem. They are natures mobsters; serial killers of flora and fauna because of their environment degradation and ability to carry diseases. Rats can carry bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi; they carry mites, fleas and ticks that spread trichinosis, tularemia, and leptospirosis. The Black Death plague during the Middle Ages decimated one-third of the human population in Europe and, unknown at the time, rats were the vectors.

A rat is a rodent and the most numerous mammals in the world. Rattus Noivegicus is one of the approximately four hundred different kinds of rodents and is known by many names-brown rat, street rat and sewer rat. The average brown rat is large and stocky. From nose to tail it averages 16 inches and weighs about 1 pound. Exterminators, however, have found 20 inch rats with weights up to 2 pounds. The brown rat is sometimes confused with the black rat or Rattus-Rattus which is smaller and was once numerous in New York City but the Rattus Norvegicus won the competition for food. The black rat is less seen today or relegated to a minor role. Both pet rats and gnotobiotic laboratory rats are Rattus Noivegicus but they are not wild and, therefore, not included here.

Rats are nocturnal and the brown rats eyes are small, black and shiny. If their eyes are caught in a beam of light, the eyes light up. Though the rat forages in darkness, the brown rat has poor eyesight and cannot see color. They do, however, have an excellent sense of smell and taste. The brown rat has strong feet, the 2 front paws are equipped with 4 claw-like nails; the rear claws are longer and stronger. It can run and climb with squirrel-like agility and is a magnificent swimmer being able to tread water for 3 days. It can survive in rivers, lakes, sewers and frightfully in toilet bowls.

The brown rats teeth are yellow, and the front two incisors are especially long and sharp, like buck teeth. These teeth grow at a rate of 5 inches per year. It is sometimes stated that the rat gnaws solely to limit its incisor length but this is not true, the incisors wear down naturally. In terms of hardness, the brown rats teeth are stronger than aluminum, copper, lead or iron. They are comparable to steel.

This column will be continued next week with information on rat behavior and means to control them. Basta und damit!

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Tell me all you know about the rat! - Kokomo Herald (press release)

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