Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

City Rats Are Loyal To Their Neighborhoods

Date:
May 27, 2009
Source:
Wiley - Blackwell
Summary:
In the rat race of life, one thing is certain: there's no place like home. Now, a study finds the same is true for rats. Although inner city rodents appear to roam freely, most form distinct neighborhoods where they spend the majority of their lives.

Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus). Although inner city rodents appear to roam freely, most form distinct neighborhoods where they spend the majority of their lives.
Credit: iStockphoto/Andrew Howe

In the rat race of life, one thing is certain: there’s no place like home. Now, a study in Molecular Ecology finds the same is true for rats. Although inner city rodents appear to roam freely, most form distinct neighborhoods where they spend the majority of their lives.

Like any major city, Baltimore has many lively neighborhoods – each with its own personality. But scientists from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say humans aren’t the only Baltimoreans loyal to their ‘hoods. The researchers found that rats typically stay close to home, rarely venturing more than a city block. In the face of danger, however, some rodents can travel as far as 7 miles to repopulate abandoned areas. 

Wild Norway rats – also called wharf rats, sewer rats or brown rats – can weigh nearly 2 pounds and transmit a variety of diseases to humans. Despite expensive eradication efforts, the number of rats in Baltimore has remained unchanged over the past 50 years. To understand why, researchers trapped nearly 300 rats from 11 residential areas of Baltimore and conducted genetic studies to see how the rats were related.

The scientists found that East Baltimore rats are separated from their unrelated West-side counterparts by a large waterway known as the Jones Falls. Within these hemispheres, rat families form smaller communities of about 11 city blocks.  Each community is further divided into neighborhoods that span little more than the length of an average alley. And to a city rat, this is home sweet home.

The findings suggest that while rats rarely migrate, neighborhood eradication efforts may backfire by encouraging the rodents to repopulate other areas and further spread disease. When you smell a rat, the researchers say, the best solution may be to tackle the problem on a much larger scale – perhaps by targeting entire families at once. Rat race won.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gardner-Santana et al. Commensal ecology, urban landscapes, and their influence on the genetic characteristics of city-dwelling Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus). Molecular Ecology, 2009; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04232.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley - Blackwell. "City Rats Are Loyal To Their Neighborhoods." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090526094614.htm>.
Wiley - Blackwell. (2009, May 27). City Rats Are Loyal To Their Neighborhoods. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090526094614.htm
Wiley - Blackwell. "City Rats Are Loyal To Their Neighborhoods." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090526094614.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) — Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins