The Pied Piper & Rats (2016)

The black rat, also known as the ship rat, roof rat or house rat originated in tropical Asia, and has spread worldwide via man. Rats are generalist omnivores, meaning they eat anything, including their own. The rat is a complex pest, defined as one that influences the environment in both harmful and beneficial ways. In many ways rats are a barometer of human civilization. That’s what makes Morgan Spurlocks’s latest film, Rats (2016) so intriguing, while being taboo for political apologists.

Black rats are largely confined to warmer areas, having been supplanted by the brown rat in the cooler climates of Western civilization. Brown rats are larger, more-aggressive, eating a wider variety of food, while being more resistant to weather extremes (favoring burrowing), making them ideally-adapted to northern urban environments. The black & brown rats, along with mice, are the most widespread mammalian species on earth.

Rats have a very high birth rate, quickly adapting & reproducing to take advantage of their food supply while eliminating competitors. For instance, rats will feast on the eggs & hatchlings of forest birds, which on isolated islands often have no other predators. Rats are believed to have caused between 40-60% of all seabird & reptile extinctions, with 90% of those occurring on islands. [1]

Rats reached all these remote islands as stowaways on human-carrying vessels, so thus it is man who is actually responsible for these mass extinctions. The rats are simply doing what they do, which is dominating their domain during nocturnal hours. Rats forage after sunset by sampling all available food. This maintains a dynamic diet, balancing nutrient intake, while avoiding over-intoxication of lethal compounds. Their ability to handle trace amounts of toxins has led to increased genetic resistance.

When traps & poison are set out, the rats act as an organization, as the alpha-male will send a weaker rat to investigate. If this rat dies, the area is marked in urine, and the rats will thereafter avoid it. This intelligence & adaptability ensures species survival. Rats use an acute sense of hearing & smelling to detect danger and quickly evade predators. Rats are the ultimate mammalian survivors, something homo sapiens need a lesson in.

It is primary to understand that rats will never be completely exterminated, as long as this planet is habitable for life.  Therefore, humans must learn to coexist with rats, in a way that respects hygiene & health concerns, as well as the reality that rats exist. Also, it would be helpful if more people understood that there are places in the world where the rat is revered. Karni Mata Temple in Deshnoke, India is known as the Temple of Rats, for the ~25,000 black rats that live in there.

In much of India & southeast Asia, rats have been eaten as a meat/protein staple for millenia.

Who is to say they are wrong?  Everything has it’s value.

Here in North America, urban brown rats live in the sewers, and carry ectoparasites such as fleas, which often contain pathogens such as bubonic plague, typhus, leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis and trichinosis. Rat infestations occur around pipes, storm drains, inside walls and ALWAYS near food garbage. Rats have the ability to swim up sewer pipes into toilets, and can tread water for three days. Each litter has 8-12 kittens. Rats can mate at age two months, produce a new litter every two months, and live for about a year.

Effective rat control requires rational city planning & adequate funding. Too much of major US-city (mafia run) waste disposal is under the catch-all of ‘garbage pickup’ which really needs to be separated into composting, recycling, and trash disposal. Composting reduces curbside food waste, which always attracts rats, and is the first sensible step in urban pest control. These sewer rats are living in human urine & feces, and are being brought into human proximity on a daily basis; leading to a public health crisis, with harmful bacteria spread through rat feces, saliva and urine.

Littering, along with curbside-overnight garbage disposal from residences, stores, subways & restaurants contributes to the sustenance of urban rats. Rats congregate in colonies of 30-50, and live only a few hundred feet from their food source. Rats can squeeze through a gap the size of a quarter because their skull is not plated together like most mammals, so it can change the shape of its head to squeeze through.

Rats have caused more economic damage and human suffering than any other vertebrate pest, according to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Rats destroy an estimated 20-30% of the world’s food supply every year—by feeding on it or contaminating it.

When easy food sources are removed, rat populations are capped, and their decline begins. Rats will cannibalize themselves when they get desperate enough, at which point more humane & time-proven extermination methods can be introduced on a wider scale. The best way to get rid of problem rats is using dogs.

The problem of city rat infestations is an indictment of capitalism, which explains the negative reviews for Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary film, Rats [2] [3]. Too much of the NYC rat problem is political corruption, with narrow-minded elitists misinforming & understating the danger to the public. The official estimate of ~2 million rats in NYC, with a human population of 8.4 million is ludicrous, as this audit proves. There are surely far more rats than human residents, probably by several times– at least.

The NYC Health Department is notorious for its corruption, with bribery and extortion of residents & business owners being public knowledge [4]. This political mafia rules the Big Apple, and they are the primary reason rats have taken such a big bite out of it [5]. In 2010, the city cut its rodent control programs by $1.5 million as part of an overall $2 billion in budget cuts for social services.

Rat indexing inspectors have found signs of rats on the property deemed ‘rat-free’ in all its compliance inspections, even in cases where the landlord paid for cleanup & extermination.  According to the Rat Indexing Map, almost every block in Manhattan has one or more buildings that have rat infestations.

The problem of rats comes down to human intelligence, cleanliness and our willingness to work together.  When not enough people practice and live by these values, we get rats everywhere.  It is our duty as human beings in a civilized society to identify all the rats, and get this epidemic under control before they overrun us.