Pest Control News

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Super Sized Rat?

The Super-Size Rat – an urban myth?
Not so long ago, the Internet went into a meltdown over a photo posted of what looked like a giant rat. As it turned out, it was a trick of the eye and a law of physics colliding to give a false impression.
That said, in early April 2016 another photo appeared of another rat that this time, seemed to be genuine – in other words, the brown rat, common in villages, towns and cities across the UK, was big. Possibly bigger than normal and certainly big enough to once again ignite debate about the rat, its size and its prevalence. 
A lesson from history
The discovery of a giant rat fossil, the size of a small dog, has raised many questions, one being just hoe big can rats grow. 
Scientists have not delivered the reassurance many rodent-hating people wanted to hear because, given the right circumstances, the rat could grow as big as a cow. 
Giant rodents roamed the earth for millennia with huge fossils being found in east Timor and other far flung, tropical countries. These species of rat are now extinct and were thought to be herbivores. The modern equivalent of a large rat would be the capybara, roughly the same size as a sheep but do not roam free here in the UK.
The largest known rat is the now extinct Josephoartegasia monesi which would have weighed over a ton and as large as a bull. 
So, the super-rat is consigned to history then?
Possibly not say scientists, because the right conditions may be closer than we think:
  • Dominant species – known as the right ecospace, if the rat has the opportunity to become the dominant species, it will grow in size and drive smaller native species to extinction
  • Abundant food supply – it has long been known that the rat is a scavenger and where there is a ready food supply, there will be rats. Hence, what were common and accepted sights in the countries, are now unwelcome sights in the urban setting: rats in food and waste bins. 
But there is a third, pressing issue that is having an impact – the increasing resistance that rats are showing to chemical and poisons. 
Is there an effective pest control option?
Pest controllers and organisations that regulate the industry are constantly innovating methods for effective rat proofing and control. As with all pest infestations, prevention is better than cure but if you do spot a rat in or near your property, getting it dealt with quickly and effectively is essential. 

But scientists are clear on one thing; regardless of how much rats grow or evolve, the key is cutting off their food supply, preventing them from growing into a healthier, bigger species.