'Genius' Rats Are Flooding DC And Adapting Too Fast To Control

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Washington, DC, has a serious rat problem on its hands, and it has little to do with the shady goings-on at some of the highest levels of government. No, we’re talking real, honest to god rat kings who are wreaking havoc on the nation’s capital.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the DC region is facing a serious problem with Rattus Norvegicus, or the brown rat, an infestation that’s being exacerbated by both a population spike as well as mild winters. With their numbers on the rise, DC now trails New York and Los Angeles for its rat population, the Associated Press reported:

The pest control company Orkin ranks Washington as America’s fourth “Rattiest City,” based on the number of new service calls per year. That’s up one spot from the previous year and just behind Los Angeles and New York; Chicago has been ranked No. 1 for four consecutive years.

While Washington doesn’t boast New York’s famous subway monsters, anecdotal evidence is piling up that the rodents are on the march. In September, a viral video showed security camera footage of a rat pulling a fire alarm, forcing the evacuation of an apartment building.

Even more unnerving is the ability with which our rat overlords are apparently adapting. Andre Pittman, an employee with the Health Department, told the Associated Press: “Rats adapt to everything. They can be like geniuses.” Officials are using everything from dry ice to poison to try to keep their numbers at bay, to no avail.

Pest Control Officers Gregory Cornes, left, and Andre Pitman, both from the D.C. Department of Health’s Rodent Control Division, searching the flower beds for rat burrows near U.S. Capitol building in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. (Image: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

We’ve known some time that the area’s rat population is a serious issue.

The Washington Post reported in August that DC saw a record number of rat-related reports to the city’s non-emergency line, with more than 5,300 in 2017, up 50 per cent from the year before. Mark Eckenwiler, vice chair of a local Advisory Neighbourhood Commission, described DC’s rodent problem to the paper as “an eternal war.” And Capitol Hill is among the areas where the rodents’ numbers are highest, the Post wrote:

The neighbourhood with the highest number of complaints in 2017 was Petworth, followed by Columbia Heights, Capitol Hill, Near Northeast, 16th Street Heights, Logan Circle, Park View, U Street and Shaw. Complaints in those neighbourhoods represented about 43 per cent of the complaints lodged last year.

From 2016 to 2017, those neighbourhoods saw between a 25 per cent to 74 per cent increase in rodent complaints. This year, they are on pace to see a repeat or increase in the number.

Rats are notorious procreators and can breed throughout the year, and consistently mild winters in DC are evidently allowing them to do just that, according to the Associated Press. Beyond that, the issue is also linked to the rising number of people in the area.

Gerard Brown of the Department of Health’s rodent control division told the Associated Press: “More people with more money means more restaurants, which means more garbage, which means more rat food.”

All-out rat anarchy is imminent, comrades. Brace yourselves.

[Associated Press]

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