Rats have fierce loyalty to ‘home’May 28th, 2009 - 11:51 am ICT by IANS
Washington, May 28 (IANS) Although rodents have a free run of the city, they develop a fierce sense of loyalty to the neighbourhoods where they spend the rest of their lives.
Rats typically stay close to home. However when danger threatens, some rodents can travel as far as 11 km to repopulate abandoned areas.
An understanding of how rats in cities are connected provides information about which populations may spread disease, said Sam Scheiner, programme director in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.
For instance, Baltimore’s port was a once major delivery point for grain, probably how rats from Norway entered the city. These rats can weigh nearly one kg and are nearly as big as bandicoots, transmitting a variety of diseases to humans.
Despite expensive eradication bids, the number of rats in Baltimore has remained unchanged over 50 years, says scientist Greg Glass of Johns Hopkins, who co-authored the paper with associates from Yale University School of Medicine.
To understand why, researchers trapped nearly 300 rats from 11 residential areas of Baltimore and conducted genetic studies to see how the rats were related. The scientists found that East Baltimore rats are separated from their unrelated West-side counterparts by a large waterway known as Jones Falls.
Within these hemispheres, rat families form smaller communities of about 11 city blocks. Each community is further divided into neighbourhoods that span little more than the length of an average alley. To a city rat, that alley is home sweet home.
The findings suggest that while rats rarely migrate, neighbourhood eradication efforts may backfire by encouraging the rodents to repopulate other areas and further spread disease, said a Johns Hopkins release.
When you smell a rat, the researchers say, the best solution may be to tackle the problem on a much larger scale - perhaps by targeting entire families at once.
The study has been published this week in Molecular Ecology.
- Rats are loyal to their neighbourhoods - May 27, 2009
- Internet more comprehensive in tracking epidemics - Jan 11, 2012
- Dead rats from Jaipur's flooded areas set off alarm - Aug 31, 2012
- Fear of plague haunting Himachal villages - Apr 02, 2012
- Rats have best bite of rodent world: Study - Apr 29, 2012
- Mole rat may hold key to human longevity - Jul 03, 2012
- China fights rats with stray cats - Aug 20, 2011
- Your farts could cure high blood pressure - Jul 03, 2012
- New York subway workers launch a website for the subway rat menace - Jan 10, 2012
- Protein key to African rodents long, robust life - May 11, 2012
- Soon, a Pied Piper's flute deadly for rats but harmless for humans, plants - Jan 13, 2011
- Mole-rats' secret can help brain survive in oxygen scarcity - Feb 27, 2012
- 'Bad' neighbourhood linked to worse cognitive function in some older adults - Mar 08, 2011
- Caesarean could pose health risk to babies - Feb 10, 2012
- Fat levels in blood may lead to Alzheimer's - Jul 19, 2012
Tags: bandicoots, best solution, city blocks, delivery point, east baltimore, environmental biology, eradication efforts, genetic studies, major delivery, national science foundation, neighbourhoods, nsf division, rats, residential areas, rodents, scheiner, school of medicine, waterway, yale university school, yale university school of medicine