Magazine article The Futurist

Invasion of the Super Rats

Magazine article The Futurist

Invasion of the Super Rats

Article excerpt

The super rats are coming. The pesky rodents are increasingly developing immunities to the poisons and other agents used to control them. The solution: Alter the landscape to benefit other small mammals that compete with rats for food and other resources.

A U.K. study identified super-rat "hot spots"--regions where rats are out of control because they have evolved resistance to most or all of the poisons that can legally be used outdoors. These poisons, once released in the environment, can also be detrimental to other wildlife and domestic pets.

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"Resistance to rodenticides has again emerged as a problem in some parts of England," says biologist Robert Smith of the University of Leicester. "Rodenticide manufacturers have not come up with any new compounds, and government departments seem to have other priorities."

Subtle changes in habitat management practices, such as leaving open areas and grassy fields, could favor small mammals, including shrews and voles. …

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