Rats can be found in every part of the world except Antarctica, and they are considered pests in each of these places. In the U.S., cities tend to be the breeding grounds for rat infestations. In a 2015 study, 18 percent of homes in Philadelphia contained evidence of these rodents, followed closely by Boston, New York City, and Washington, D. C. These cities and others have instituted specific programs for rat eradication but have not as yet completely solved the problem.

Rats, like mice, are attracted to wires—utility wires, computer wires, wires in vehicles, as well as gas and water pipes. One rat authority theorizes that wires may be attractive to rats because of their resemblances to vines and stalks of plants cables are the vines of the city. Twenty-six percent of all electric cable breaks and eighteen percent of all phone cable disruptions are created by rats. Twenty-five percent of all fires of unknown origin are rat caused.

When the rat is not gnawing or feeding, it is digging. Often rats burrow under concrete slabs seeking a location for their nests. Entrance is gained through a two-inch-wide hole; their skeletons collapse, and they can squeeze through an opening three-quarters of an inch wide, which is the average width of their skull. This tunnel travels down about a foot and then widens into the nest or den. The back of the nest has an additional tunnel that leads back to the street. This second tunnel is called a “bolt hole” and serves as an emergency exit. A bolt hole is lightly camouflaged with dirt or trash. The networks of burrows can be so extensive an entire city block can be hollowed out. In Selkirk, England in 1776, there were so many interconnected burrows and nests that the townspeople thought their village might sink.

Rats generally stay within sixty-five feet of their nest and are likely to cross alleys but not roads. Rats use regular runways or paths to feed, taking the same paths night after night, rarely diverging or straying.

Cats are mouse killers, but they are not likely to attack an adult rat, though cats can kill young rats. Snap-traps may not be effective either because rodents are wary of new things in their habitat, preferring routine to change. Biologists refer to this trait as “neophobia,” and rats are more neophobic than mice. Exterminators have learned to leave unset traps out for a few days before triggering them, allowing the rats to become familiar with the device. The most frequently-used method of extermination is poison, and the most widely-used poisons are anticoagulants. These cause the rat to bleed to death internally, but it may take several meals before their death ensues.

Though targeted over and over by man, rats wreak havoc on food supplies, destabilizing or contaminating crops and stored foods. Some estimates suggest that as much as one-third of the world’s food supply is destroyed by rats.

Rats survive while under constant siege because they have an astounding rate of reproduction. Male and female rats may mate as much as twenty times per day. A female rat will produce 12 litters of up to 20 rats each year with a gestation period of 21 days. One pair of rats has the potential of 15,000 offspring in a year, and after only 16 weeks the pups are able to produce families of their own.

Even today, it is said that in New York City there are 8 million rats, one for every New Yorker. So how do we get rid of these destructive and dangerous animals? The most effective way is to have them participate in their own demise. Experts tell us you must put stress on their environment. If you can stop their supply of food, they will consume each other.

Basta und damit!