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 April 17, 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 April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo

Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) The Buenos Aires Zoo debuted a trio of rare white Bengal tiger cubs on Wednesday. (April 16) Video provided by AP
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