Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Waging war on ’rats from hell’ - an alternative means

27.07.2004


Rats are unwelcome visitors, and for most people getting rid of them means putting down poison, such as anticoagulant compounds based on warfarin.



Recent estimates suggest that rat populations are on the increase, and continued reliance on rodenticides as the only means of controlling rats may be building big problems for the future. The use of warfarin and similar poisons can present problems of its own, killing other wildlife and domestic pets and leading to ‘hotspots’ of super-rats that are out of control because they have evolved resistance to most or all of the poisons that can legally be used outdoors. These resistant super-rats are featured in the ITV1 programme, Filthy Homes from Hell, to be broadcast on Tuesday evening, 27 July 2004.

Research at the University of Leicester in collaboration with the Central Science Laboratory in York has investigated other ways of controlling the spread of Norway rat populations on farms in the UK, by managing the environment rats like to inhabit.


PhD student Mark Lambert, working with Professor Robert Smith in the Department of Biology, has been looking at non-rodenticidal ways of controlling rats on farms, including environmental manipulation to benefit small mammals that might compete with rats for food and other resources.

On farms in North Yorkshire, field margins were surveyed to identify habitat characteristics preferred by small mammals and disliked by rats. The results suggest that subtle changes in habitat management practices such as leaving wide, grassy field margins, could favour small mammals including common shrews and bank voles, while at the same time producing a habitat that is less attractive for rats. This approach might also have other environmental benefits, creating buffer zones to absorb pesticide run-off, and better habitats for rat predators such as the barn owl.

To avoid predators, rats tend to avoid open spaces whilst on the move. Consequently, reducing cover around farm buildings led to reduced rat activity and survival and this approach compared well with the use of rodenticides in terms of both its efficiency and labour involved.

Within a short space of time rat populations were discouraged by the reduction of cover around farm buildings, and the technique is likely to be even more effective as part of a long-term strategy to produce an environment that is less suitable for rats, but does not reduce the quality of life for other animals.

From research so far, it appears that the best way of tackling the problem of Norway rats on farms will be use of a package of methods, including resource management, traps and some limited and well-targeted use of rodenticides where necessary.

The report concludes that less emphasis on rodenticides can only be good news, with long-term benefits including reduced risks to other wildlife and less chance of resistance to poisons among the rat population.

Mark Lambert said: “The results of this study are particularly encouraging as they show just how much can be done without the use of rodenticides. Certainly, rodenticides will continue to be an important part of rodent control, but it should always be remembered that prevention is better than cure. An integrated approach that considers the habitat and uses alternative methods where possible and practical is the only way to ensure that we stay one step ahead of the rats”.

Professor Smith added: “Resistance to rodenticides has again emerged as a problem in some parts of England. Rodenticide manufacturers have not come up with any new compounds and government departments seem to have other priorities. Mark’s research has shown that good housekeeping by farmers pays dividends in keeping rats down, which is good for both the farmer and consumers of food produced by British farmers.”

Ather Mirza | alfa
Further information:
http://www.le.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>