Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space 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
Study: Moon basin formed by giant impact

NASA's LADEE Spacecraft Gets Final Science Instrument Installed

Astrium presents results of its study into automatic landing near the Moon's south pole

European mission to search for moon water

SHAKE AND BLOW
Curiosity's Tastes of Martian Soil Offer Insights on Mineral Composition

NASA Rover's First Soil Studies Help Fingerprint Martian Minerals

Curiosity on Mars sits on rocks similar to those found in marshes in Mexico

Continuing Work With Scoops at 'Rocknest'

SHAKE AND BLOW
Voyager observes magnetic field fluctuations in heliosheath

New NASA Online Science Resource Available for Educators and Students

'First' Pakistan astronaut wants to make peace in space

Space daredevil Baumgartner is 'officially retired'

SHAKE AND BLOW
China to launch 11 meteorological satellites by 2020

China makes progress in spaceflight research

Patience for Tiangong

China launches civilian technology satellites

SHAKE AND BLOW
Crew Prepares for Spacewalk After Progress Docks

Crew Preparing for Cargo Ship, Spacewalk

Russian cargo ship docks with ISS: official

Packed Week Ahead for Six-Member Crew

SHAKE AND BLOW
Ariane 5s are readied in parallel for Arianespace's next heavy-lift flights

Japan Plans to Launch New Carrier Rocket in 2013

EUTELSAT 21B and Star One C3 Set For Ariane 5 November Launch

Launcher assembly begins for Arianespace's seventh Ariane 5 mission in 2012

SHAKE AND BLOW
Physicists confirm first planet discovered in a quadruple star system

Planet-hunt data released to public

New Study Brings a Doubted Exoplanet 'Back from the Dead'

New small satellite will study super-Earths for ESA

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




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