When you think of Colorado wildlife, you don’t often think of rats. Norway rats, however, were rampant in the alley of a Front Range city this month. As a biologist, I wondered what’s good about rats? Norway Rats disperse seeds when they eat them and poop them out in new places. This helps plants spread. Rats also help plants grow by aerating soil; they put oxygen into the soil when they dig. Nevertheless, having rats in an urban area is not a good idea.
We visited the site in the middle of the day and saw rats happily playing in a brush pile, scurrying to and from the dumpster, and going in and out of their burrows, which consisted of a network of passageways, runways, and chambers, under a couple of sheds.
Norway rats (originally from Asia, not Norway) are found anywhere there are people. Common places Norway rats live are ditches, basements, sewers, old buildings, barns, dumps, woods, fields, ponds, and marshes. In our situation, not only were there several seldom used storage sheds, but a creek was also close-by.
Norway rats will eat just about anything, but people supply their main food. There were several dumpsters in the alley – overflowing with food and with the lids open. Norway rats are very nimble and can easily climb to get their food.
The IPM team used a coordinated approach. The first step was to clean up the dumpsters and remove their food source. The second step was to use baited snap traps; no rodenticides were used. The third step was biological control; a rat terrier was brought in to catch the rats.
Rat terrior finding the last rat
Filed under: animals, environment, IPM, outdoor, Uncategorized | Leave a comment »