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 July 25, 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 July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
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