Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




SHAKE AND BLOW
For New York rats, a question of sink or swim
by Staff Writers
New York (AFP) Oct 31, 2012


Most rats would try to go back home once the water subsides. They are very loyal to their home territories and groups and can find their way home from quite far away.

As Hurricane Sandy pushed floodwater through New York's streets and into its subways, many wondered how the city's infamous rat population would fare -- sink or swim?

For some, the deluge that accompanied Sandy raised fears of a "ratpocalypse," with the city's least glamourous residents crawling in their thousands up out of their subterranean habitats and into the streets.

Others pondered the possibility of a grim "rat soup," imagining dozens of the rodents drowned and floating along on the tide of water that swept into the city's subway stations.

No one knows just how many rats there are in the city, with experts at odds over the accuracy of one common estimate suggesting there is at least one rat for each of New York City's eight million human residents.

And Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, said it was similarly difficult to predict what had happened to the rats.

"Rats tend to inhabit very low lying areas that are most subject to this intense flooding. So some rats will be killed, they'll be drowned in the water," he told AFP.

"But I would expect that relatively few will be killed by a flood of this nature, because as quickly as the floods can rise, the rats can rise. They can swim quite proficiently and climb and get up and out of harm's way."

While a rare fan of the rat, at least as a research subject, Ostfeld pointed out that the rodents can carry a slew of unsavoury ailments, including leptospirosis and salmonella.

Those rats that make it up to the surface "could pose a threat to us in new parts of the city where they haven't been," he warned.

In the short term, Ostfeld predicted, survivor rats will be looking for new homes, trying to get by in a new environment and reestablish a social order.

"But once these new social structures are maintained, are formed, I would expect the rats to begin breeding again," he said.

"And if there's a massive amount of new food as a result of the storm... that could constitute a new food resource for rats and we could see a population increase."

But Bora Zivkovic, a behavioral biologist and editor at Scientific American, predicted the storm might well have drowned a portion of the city's rodent dwellers.

"Rats, especially the pups, in the areas most quickly flooded, or without good easy exits to the surface, would have drowned," he told AFP by email.

Still, those that did make it to the surface would be feasting, he added.

"Much more food will be thrown away, at all hours of day and night, and I assume that trash pickup will be temporarily erratic, thus leaving plenty of food sitting in plastic bags on sidewalks for a while."

Despite the abundant food available to them, life won't just be a walk in the park for the new overground arrivals, he added.

"Displaced rats will interact with local rat groups, probably in quite aggressive encounters. Those encounters will decide who is dominant, who stays and who leaves."

And for those terrified by the prospect of street corners overrun by aggressive rodents, he had calming words.

"Most rats would try to go back home once the water subsides. They are very loyal to their home territories and groups and can find their way home from quite far away."

He added that while breeding would quickly bring the rat population back up to pre-storm size, there was "no reason to expect it will get bigger."

Sam Miller, assistant commissioner for public affairs at New York City's Health and Mental Hygiene department sounded a similarly optimistic note.

"We haven't seen an increase in rats above ground caused by Hurricane Sandy," he told AFP, echoing Zivkovic's theory that the flooding could reduce the rodent population by drowning young rats in burrows.

"We believe the flooding could reduce the rat population overall," he said.

.


Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
When the Earth Quakes
A world of storm and tempest






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





SHAKE AND BLOW
Storm-battered US battles floods, power cuts
New York (AFP) Oct 30, 2012
New York struggled to get back on its feet Tuesday after superstorm Sandy carved a path of destruction from the Caribbean to Canada that left at least 110 people dead and millions without power. The cyclone drove hurricane-force winds and deadly ocean surges against a large swathe of the US East Coast, adding an uncertain twist to an already tight US presidential race. President Barack O ... read more


SHAKE AND BLOW
After Sandy, frustrated drivers queue for fuel

Haiti, struck by megastorm Sandy, asks for aid

Obama vows to stand with superstorm Sandy victims

US storm damage could hit $50 billion

SHAKE AND BLOW
Space Station's Orbit Raised to Avoid Space Junk

Zynga builds new version of social game 'CityVille'

SSBV Aerospace and Technology Group and SpaceMetric announce signing of MOU

UC Research Brings Us Step Closer to Rollable, Foldable e-Devices

SHAKE AND BLOW
Navy Oceanographers Delve Deeper in Wave Data to Improve Forecasts

Pacific sharks disappearing into soup: study

Century-long trend of global ocean warming identified

Global precipitation variability decreased from 1940 to 2009

SHAKE AND BLOW
Two Perfect Days for IceBridge

Polar bears seen taking refuge on icebergs

Biologists record increasing amounts of plastic litter in the Arctic deep sea

Opposite Behaviors? Arctic Sea Ice Shrinks, Antarctic Grows

SHAKE AND BLOW
Desert farming forms bacterial communities that promote drought resistance

Survey: Israel heaviest user of pesticides

Scientists Find Aphid Resistance in Black Raspberry

Greater effort needed to move local, fresh foods beyond 'privileged' consumers

SHAKE AND BLOW
For New York rats, a question of sink or swim

Tabletop fault model reveals why some quakes result in faster shaking

Ash over Alaska from 100-year-old eruption

Earthquake shakes buildings in Philippine capital

SHAKE AND BLOW
Lesotho fears cash shortfall as food crisis deepens

Senegal foreign, interior ministers lose jobs in reshuffle

G.Bissau's alleged coup mastermind to face military court

Rwanda ex-army chief's refugee status questioned in S.Africa

SHAKE AND BLOW
Village in Bulgaria said Europe's oldest

Genetics suggest global human expansion

'Digital eternity' beckons as death goes high-tech

Primates' brains make visual maps using triangular grids




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement