Discover magazine just released an article discussing how bats are pretty competitive against each other. They’ll send jamming signals to steal a rivals’ prey. Bats, just before snapping their bug meal out of the air, will sometimes send out a series of rapid chirps so they can better home in on their target. Lately, scientists have discovered nearby bats will sometimes send out ultrasonic jamming signals to confuse the hunting bat just so they can steal the bug for their own meal.
Hawks are seen as the pigeon prevention method for a mansion awaiting reconstruction in Ewell, United Kingdom. City officials worry about pigeons roosting in the building that was damaged by fire in December 2013. Pigeon droppings will damage the plaster and pose a health and safety risk to the crews scheduled to start the restoration work after Christmas. The temporary solution? Fly hawks over the mansion at dusk each night in hopes of scaring off any pigeons, preventing them from roosting there. If that doesn’t work, they will need to consider more permanent solutions to keep the pigeons out.
Of all the different ways to manage bat problems, one town in Australia is trying to discourage bats from roosting in neighborhoods by allowing residents to seriously trim back the trees lining city streets. The hope is they will deter the bats from living in the trees and encourage them to move to a more suitable location in the wild. Unfortunately, they may discover that the bats may end up moving into attics, chimneys, walls or eaves instead of seeking shelter in a more natural setting.
Bats aren’t the truly terrifying creatures that swarm around people’s heads or go for blood. But, their presence in our homes, apartments, office buildings, out buildings and industrial spaces aren’t good for them and it’s certainly not good for us. The mess they make with guano (or bat droppings) is smelly, foul, and attracts other vermin or bugs. They can carry ticks or mites that drop off and infest the area. They damage walls, soffits, eaves and other building materials, and leave a large greasy smudge around the areas where they access the building. And, yes, they are a common carrier of rabies. The problem is, their teeth are so small that a person may not even know they’ve been bitten. So, health officials strongly suggest you never touch a bat with your bare hands, and if a person wakes up in a room with a bat, they should seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is fatal unless managed properly, so don’t take a chance around bats.
Of all the wild animal diseases, rabies is probably the best known, but it is usually a misunderstood disease. Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite. It can affect all mammals, not just raccoons, skunks, dogs and cats. Recently, a rancher had to put down his cow that had been bitten by a rabid wild animal, and the cow tested positive for rabies. Domestic animals and people with high-risk jobs (like trappers who remove wild animals from homes and other buildings) can receive vaccinations. Domestic animals who are known to have been exposed to a rabid animal are required to either be placed in 6 month quarantine, at the owner’s expense, or must be euthanized. People who have been exposed to a rabid animal must receive a series of rabies shots, which are quite costly, around $5,000 to $7,000. There is no cure for rabies. It’s a viral disease that attacks the nervous system, and is always fatal unless treated in a timely manner. Symptoms can take as much as a year to present, which means a person who was bitten or scratched by a rabid animal must be treated immediately, even if they aren’t suffering any symptoms, yet. As many as 50,000 people die every year from rabies. 7,000 to 8,000 rabid animals are found to have rabies each year in the United States, with more than 90% occurring in wild animals. The actual numbers may be much higher than that, however, since the only way to confirm rabies is by killing the animal and testing the carcass. Human deaths from rabies are rare in the United States, but they do happen when someone either doesn’t know they have been bitten by a rabid animal, or they fail to seek proper medical care. Bats in the United States have very small teeth, and can bite a sleeping person without the person knowing. This is why health officials recommend seeking medical attention if a person wakes up with a bat in the room. They may have been bitten as they were sleeping.
Rabies is, of course, not the only disease that can be transmitted to humans, pets or other domestic animals from wild animals. Diseases can be transmitted through the urine or feces of animals and birds, and animals can carry parasites and other bugs that can infest an area where they are living, which in turn cause harm or illness to people. This is why it is so important to have a professional wildlife animal control company send a crew to remove the wild animals from your home, outbuildings, industrial buildings, offices, or anywhere else in or on your property. It is healthier and safer for you and the wild animals to have them out of your property and back in their own habitat.
Recently, one young Irish mother was buckling her toddler into his car seat when she noticed rat droppings all over the back seat and noticed gnaw-marks on the back seats and head rests. Her car was infested with rats! Of course, she immediately took her child out of the car, locked it, and called a friend for help. She and her friend have tried to lure the rats out and poison them, but so far, they’re still a problem.
Anyone with little ones knows the car that the kids ride in the most is covered in toys, shed jackets, a few crayons or markers, and lots and lots of dropped food. It’s a mecca for rats, mice or anything that can get inside. There’s plenty to eat and lots of things to gnaw on.
This woman already had a phobia of rats, and now she’s terrified she’ll be driving down the road just to have one scamper over her foot. I would be equally afraid that a rat would gnaw through a crucial wire or hose.
Ireland isn’t alone in its rat problems. Plenty of U.S. cities are struggling right now to eradicate their rats. New York City and Baltimore, for example, are making a concerted effort to take care of their rat infestations. But, smaller, more rural towns which are overrun with the rodents may not have the resources yet to fully manage the problem.
Additionally, there is a great deal of controversy over cities laying out rat poison, which may cause secondary poisoning. Secondary poisoning is when a rat has consumed rat poison and is then, in turn, consumed by a predator such as a cat, hawk, coyote or snake. Recently, two bobcats were found dead on the East coast, after consuming rats who had not died yet from poisoning. Bird lovers are dismayed by the deaths of hawks who had eaten poisoned rats.
But, a rat infestation is a serious danger. We were already aware of numerous diseases that can be transmitted to humans from rats, but a recent study of New York City rats just revealed 18 additional previously unknown diseases harbored by the rodents. That doesn’t even begin to address the structural or electrical damage rats can cause to buildings, and apparently also cars.
So, where do we draw the line between guarding against secondary poisoning to other animals and guarding the health and safety of human beings?
A 13-week-old dog in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. recently died from a disease transmitted by rodent urine. Residents have long been frustrated by the rodent problem, but this has tipped the scales for Foggy Bottom Association President Marina Streznewski. The dog was her pet, and now the rat problem is personal. The association has been working to get the rat problem under control for a while, but now she is reaching out to other local groups with proposals they work together. She’s also pushing for new compactor trash cans that block rodents from getting into the garbage. Rats can easily climb the current typical trash can models and access waste just lying at the top. Efforts are being made to put a grant program into place for businesses so they can more easily purchase the new trash cans. But, the rodent problem won’t be solved by new trash cans alone. Bushes must be cleared, rat burrows must be treated, and neighborhoods must work together if they hope to get the rodent infestation under control.