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  • Bernard Black

Portland Rat Safari

Updated: May 9, 2019

There's an old adage that there's a rat for every person in a city, but that's based on some rough estimates from a particular english countryside in 1909. That doesn't mean there aren't a lot of rats. There are a lot of rats! Humans might currently the most successful mammal on earth, but we are closely trailed by the house mouse (Mus musculus) and the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), which is actually from Asia originally.

Last week was the Pacific Northwest Pest Management Conference and we were joined by Dr Bobby Corrigan who led a "Rat Safari" around sections of downtown Portland and one of our technicians joined the procession of peering pest technicians.

In the above picture you can see some discoloration on the curb to the right of the plaque. That's from rats. They have oil on their skin and in their hair just like us, but they don't have good hygiene and they leave sebum on areas they frequent often. There was a trail from this storm drain into an row of arborvitae where there was a burrow and nearby food carts.

Bobby estimates that we've decoded roughly 10% of all there is to know about wild rats and a lot of what we do know isn't put into practice in many situations. These trails lead right to some garbage bins which rats could easily climb up and into. In the opposite direction there was a neglected fountain and more burrows. Rats, like us, need food, water, and shelter to survive. We found plenty of all three on our safari.

Derrick also happened to spot a live Norway rat under a food cart but he was too slow with his camera. These were some of the burrows it was using. If you'd like to go on your own "rat safari" with Dr Corrigan, we recommend watching this video from National Pest Management Association.

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