For the past few weeks, the Montreal rats have spoken. According to some people, the city is crawling with rodents and it will be necessary to hit hard to keep the rats from running in the next local elections.
Posted at 1:00 p.m
The opening of sewers during works, problems with waste disposal and the poor quality of the toxins used to control them would be aggravating factors. There would be more rats than Montrealers. The Anglos and the Francos may therefore dispute it, the city belongs more to rats, squirrels, raccoons, pigeons and seagulls.
These species are wonderfully adapted to human presence. They understood that it was better to approach him in order to survive the almighty Sapiens: our mountains of garbage are mountains of resources for them.
Raccoons are so well adapted to city life that they teach night classes in the park. They share their new finds with the skunks to open the compost bins.
Trained by raccoons, squirrels have also learned to rip open garbage bags and scatter their contents on the sidewalk (that’s the famous dissection class). They also learned the art of harassing picnickers to steal food from the seagulls. In short, squirrels have evolved from nutcrackers to ballcrackers. But unlike rats, they are perceived as very cute, which makes their urban acceptance easier.
Also, a friend said it’s very easy to spot the newly arrived French at Plateau-Mont-Royal: they’re the only ones who still find the squirrels in La Fontaine Park exotic enough to photograph. If we don’t find a way to control them, I’ll bet you that in a few years, Montreal’s squirrels will be buying food by stealing money straight from taxpayers’ pockets. They will then compete with Treasury officials who will not hesitate to make their skin.
Let’s get back to that unwanted rodent, the sewer rat. Rat populations can certainly be reduced, but eliminating them is impossible. They are stronger and more resilient than us. The gray rat is also called the brown rat or sewer rat. But for us biologists, there will always be Rattus norvegicus. Norvegicus as in Norway, you read that right! It is associated with Norway, but the area of origin of its ancestors is more likely to be Siberia, Northeast China and Japan. Why did you call it Norway rat? Inadvertently. The British physician and naturalist John Berkenhout, who gave it this name, came across it in 1769 in the port of Edinburgh, Scotland. Because the brown rat descended from a Danish ship that had just arrived from Norway, the naturalist was puzzled.
Long before the globalization of cultures, the Norwegian rat clung to humans to spread across the planet. Wherever he lands, he adapts and has a good time.
Unfortunately, these rodents are also vectors of diseases such as typhoid and rabies and contaminate our food with their urine and excrement. In addition, Rattus rattus (the black rat) has long been blamed for the bubonic plague epidemic that decimated much of Europe in the Middle Ages. But today scientists appear to be partially exonerating this Middle Eastern rat, which some believe exploited the Crusades to immigrate to Europe.
My late and brilliant friend and contributor to the show La nature based on Boucar Harold Lévé, owner of Entreprises Maheu and specialist in pest control, knew more than anyone about the extraordinary world of rats. He told me that the rat, with its very poor eyesight, uses its whiskers, the whiskers, to orient itself at night. Ultrasound and smells are at the heart of the communication of these animals, whose paranoia is a form of survival.
Placed in front of a new food source, rats will exercise great caution before touching it. If a tester shows signs of postprandial stress (after feeding), the rest of the colony will move away from the deadly food forever. According to Harold, soft concrete, wood, rubber, and even aluminum foil can enter their bellies without fatally twisting their guts. If you have teeth that are constantly growing, you have to gnaw hard things to wear them down.
Should we slow down the rodents or chew on the bite? Remember that without rats in our cities, our sewers would be constantly clogged, scientists say. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), rats eat about 800 tons of trash every day in Paris alone. While we love to hate them, we still have to thank them for this work, but also for donating their bodies to our science and making a spectacular leap in medicine possible. We should also remember that the rat is a social, intelligent, itinerant, opportunistic, gregarious, fertile, omnivorous animal that lives in hierarchical groups and has great adaptability. Doesn’t that remind you of another species, a large biped that abounds on the island of Montreal? Two charges of the same sign repel each other. It is this principle that is enshrined in Coulomb’s law and is well known to anyone who has delved a little into physics. As Sapiens rages, the rat expands its spleen.