July 06, 2018

Who can resist a face like that? (AP Photo/Francois Mori) 

Note: This piece was originally published on January 19th, 2018

Rats: The bane of any city-dweller’s existence. We spend millions of dollars each year trying to kill these pests, putting out poison and traps. But new research poses the question: Should we be killing rats at all? Innovation Hub producer Marc Filippino reports on what could be a surprising new solution to rat control.  

Three Takeaways 

  • Every year Orkin releases a list of America’s rattiest cities. Chicago’s been sitting on top for the last few years.  
  • Three things that will survive the apocalypse: Twinkies, cockroaches and...rats. Needing only a few grams of food a day, rats are extremely resilient. Oh, and then there’s the fact that a couple of rats can produce to up to 15,000 descendents a year.  
  • With all these offspring, Bobby Corrigan, a rat expert, says cities sometimes rely too heavily on poison. So what should they do instead? Some places, like Chicago and New York, are experimenting with rat birth control. No, that's not a typo.   

More reading 

  • Remember how in Looney Tunes, Wile E. Coyote chased the Road Runner? Cities sometimes come up with weird ways to catch rats, too. D.C. recruits feral cats, New Yorkers go out on rat hunts, and a Chicago alderman suggested letting urban coyotes (Not Wile E.) take care of the problem.  
  • When it comes to rat control, money isn’t always the answer. In 2017, Chicago dedicated about $5 million toward its rat control program. Meanwhile, New York City is throwing $32 million at the problem. A lot of money, yet, both still have rats.   
  • Slate takes a crack at why rodents are such a hit in Hollywood.  

Green, Rats, cities

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