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Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

Posted December 09, 2017 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: DNA Rats

I think most of us can agree: rats are vile, disease-carrying vermin that overrun city streets leaving destruction in their wake. However, my view of them may have softened a bit this week thanks to a study from Fordham University and Providence College.

According to the study, rats who have set up residence in Manhattan’s uptown show slight genetic differences from the rats who reside downtown.

Detailing their findings in the journal Molecular Ecology, researchers located and captured rats from all over Manhattan, noting where each rat was captured. Once captured, the rats’ tails were used as a source for DNA analysis.

In a first-of-its kind study of the Manhattan brown rat, researchers compared the genomic results by geography and determined that most of the brown rats were descended from western European rats brought here over 200 years ago as stowaways on ships.

However, there are genetic differences among current populations depending upon where the rats live. In some case, researchers were able to identify down to the specific neighborhood where rats resided by simply looking at their individual rat profiles. For instance, based on their profiles, researchers were able to tell if a rat spent the majority of its time in the East Village or the West Village.

As researchers continue looking at urban rat populations, it is their hope that their findings will help to reduce the number of rats overrunning cities.

In the meantime, I am left with a different vision of city rats: Instead of the disease-carrying nuisances I picture lurking in subways or darkened alleys, I now imagine as waring rat gangs in the vein of West Side Story where rats from uptown battle/dance the downtown rats for turf supremacy—set to the backdrop of a lively Broadway soundtrack, of course.

Source: Pixabay

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#1

Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/09/2017 1:26 AM

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#2

Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/10/2017 8:15 PM

Yet Another reason higher education is becoming a joke.

I trap them and toss 'em in the trash.

I keep a couple of these out in the yard. This type is great!(with the plastic lever) but the springs are so strong the trap rips itself apart after a few weeks of just siting there.

The plastic version seem more like a pet feeder with the effort it takes to set off.

If everyone trapped and disposed, the rats would disappear fast. I have a low rat zone around my home.. but it doesn't go far.

-anybody have any good rat trap ideas?

...Not the most PC subject, but you can't bring rats up without speaking of abatement. I think the crews that are tasked with the job have been a costly waste.

rant off.. nice subject!

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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/10/2017 10:53 PM

I see these around from time to time....

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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/11/2017 6:53 AM

You see those?

So do the rats who know what it is. And that a tastier garbage can is right behind it.

Should a rat eat the bait? .. there's the rat twerk death dance on display. Or if you're lucky it's just a festering pile of poison meat. ...no thanks

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#5

Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/11/2017 9:51 AM

Some enterprising NYC terrier owners take their dogs out at night to hunt rats. I don't think the dogs catch THAT many rats, but they sure do have a good time.

The genetic differentiation is quite interesting. Hasn't this sort of divergence happened with other urban animals, like squirrels -- different coat colors, e.g.?

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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/11/2017 12:51 PM

I've read about those rat dog packs.

This guy is supposed to have a ratters history, but the only time he gets viscous is for love and attention.

Personally I'm glad he's not doing the tango with vermin.

He licks my face once in awhile and that would spoil it.

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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/12/2017 10:04 AM

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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/12/2017 2:17 PM

Nice work, but a little on the puny side.

...If anybody's interested in giving a unique pair of "Chicago Moccasins" for the holidays???

All sizes available.

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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/12/2017 2:46 PM

Above offer includes beautiful views of lake Michigan.

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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/12/2017 7:12 PM

It's a great lake!

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#11

Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/18/2017 2:41 PM

Rats were a problem for me this year. It's a rural area but a lot of construction happening not far away by the river, I don't know if their usual habitat was disturbed or they're just attracted by new riches. Or it's my own fault because the more agricultural activity, the better they like it.

I haven't trapped any yet, but did a fair bit of reading about it this fall. Victor traps are universally respected. Sticky traps??? look awful. I just can't imagine anyone wanting to handle a stuck, live, angry, hungry screaming rat. No thanks. I thought the 'electronic rat traps' looked pretty nifty. Victor makes them too, and a couple of other brands. They are pricey but do a clean job killing with a shock, I would probably choose this if I ever had them get in the house. For now we've done an exclusion job on the cellar where there was some digging. And working on making the habitat less friendly in the garden. Who knew, an old bucket that fills with rain water is exactly what they wanted? Still I have a feeling this battle is not over...

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#12
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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/18/2017 2:59 PM

I believe the "conventional wisdom" with sticky traps is to wait until the rat stops moving. It's a surprisingly short wait after the rad bumps its nose into the glue trap.

Even the humane traps can be a horrorshow sometimes. I got one of those "clockwork" traps that are supposed to sweep the rat into a side chamber when it steps onto the trigger in the tunnel. It's supposed to move so fast the rat is in the side bin before it realizes what's happening. The first rat caught by that thing managed to keep itself from getting swept in somehow.

Or rather, managed to keep HALF of itself from getting swept in. The trap couldn't slice it in two, but it was still a gory mess to discover, and I had to dispose of that multi-use trap after its first catch.

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#13
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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/18/2017 3:16 PM

Conventional wisdom... thumbs up (and unbitten!) Thanks for the tip on the humane trap... ecckh.

One of the top scores for the old fashioned wooden trap, they are basically biodegradable and inexpensive enough to dispose the whole thing with every catch (at least, the mouse versions cost less than a buck apiece). I saw some creative use of a milk carton on youtube, put the trap inside and contain all the mouse gore splatter, neat. Not sure what disposable container would work for rat size.. the biggest one I saw this summer would challenge a cat.

Also I read that mice and rats have a very different psychological profile. Rats are wary of anything new, mice not so much.

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#14
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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/18/2017 3:28 PM

Rats are also a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

This past summer my neighbor had a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes. He never planted them, it looks like a squirrel forgot where it buried one it stole from our garden the summer before. Anyway, in early fall he tore the tomato plants out because he discovered a rat had been using the sprawling vines (he never put up a trestle for them to climb up) as shelter, and had been putting the tomatoes in my neighbor's basement for winter storage. The rat had been butting the tomatoes in a neat row on the narrow ledge where the concrete foundation jutted in past the wall studs.

Who knew rats were so organized to use neat rows for storing produce?

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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/18/2017 4:00 PM

Organized, doesn't surprise me a bit. Rats are especially fond of tomatoes. But unlike other animals that get into the vegetables, the rat will never leave nibbled or half eaten fruit where you can see what they're up to, as mice squirrels and rabbits all do. The rat instead will take them clean away a few at a time, so you're none the wiser.

Your neighbor would be living the nightmare now, if he hadn't stopped them from moving in for the winter. But such an orderly tenant...

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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/19/2017 8:53 AM

Oh, I know that nightmare well.

A few years ago, my neighbor on the other side informed me that he was going to remove the lilac push in his back yard "in the spring" to encourage the mouse colony that he found under there to relocate. This conversation happened in late fall.

Two days later, the bush was GONE.

The colony was in dire straights, they had no time to set up new burrows before winter, they had to find shelter NOW.

They found it.

In MY house.

It took us about 15 months to get rid of them all, and the house still bears the "battle scars," books with their covers nibbled, paperbacks with corners shredded for muse bedding, wire mesh still secured over holes in drywall and jammed into cracks under baseboard molding. Thank goodness the mice never found the dead spaces around the remodeled attic space; if they had gotten there we never would have been able to get them out; we would have had to burn the whole house down to end the infestation.

All because a neighbor decided to pull a bush a season and a half too early. He could have at least TOLD us he was moving up the timetable, so we could have stocked up on traps and deterrents to stop the colony when they were starting the invasion.

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#17
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Re: Uptown Rats Versus Downtown Rats

12/19/2017 10:25 AM

I had the same worries in my mind as I was routing the rats from the garden this fall. There is just one thing worse than having rats around the garden...

The hole near my cellar was destroyed with a pick much earlier in the season, but there was sign well into the fall, that an animal was coming there at night and trying to start another one - without much success, fortunately, as it is mostly large rocks kept together by a pinch of gravel. We got the proper gauge of hardware cloth, covered an exposed area which could be gnawed to get in, and then enclosed with the same stuff, to block access to the space where there was digging. The method shown in exclusion designs for farms and granaries online will extend the wire down underground and then turning outward for some distance as well. We decided not to do the digging part until spring, for the reason: soil recently excavated in the fall will not hold together when frost comes and would be a great temptation/opportunity for the animal to exploit our own digging to get through it. Instead we left the wire pressed outwards on top of the ground with some boulders holding it in place... I hope.

No doubt about it, I'll be patrolling the house perimeter all winter, looking for a long tail dragged in the snow.

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