2013-10-29 08:10:42 -
Forty percent of mammalian species are rodents. There are about 2,277 species of rodents. They are one of the most abundant creatures on this planet. Rodents are found in vast numbers on all continents except Antarctica, most islands, and in all habitats except oceans. Nearly all rodents share the characteristic of dentition highly specialized for gnawing. This specialization gives rodents their name from the Latin, rodere, to gnaw. During gnawing, the incisors grind against each other, wearing away the softer dentine, leaving the enamel edge as the blade of a chisel. This ‘self-sharpening’ system is very effective and is one of the keys to the enormous success of rodents. They can survive in the worst possible conditions too. Their success
is probably due to their small size, short breeding cycle, and ability to gnaw and eat a wide variety of foods. Rodents are important in many ecosystems because they reproduce rapidly, and can function as food sources for predators, mechanisms for seed dispersal, and disease vectors. Humans use rodents as a source of fur, as pets, as model organisms in animal testing, for food, and even for detecting land mines as they have an acute sense of smell. Also their success rates in such operations are nearly 100%. Due to the wide diversity of their characteristics, some of which are considered uncommon or unique amongst mammals, rodents are used widely in research.
But these creatures spread havoc in all areas of life owing to their continuous gnawing. Recently the damage incurred due to this has increased manifold .The most horrifying incident that has come to light recently is that of a little girl attacked by rats in her very home the place where children think they are the safest. Becky Evans of Daily News U.K reported on 7th March, 2013 the hair rising tale of seven year old Francesca Williams who was bitten by a foot long rat while in her merry sleep. The rat bit the girl on her face and arms before she could even realize what had happened. The unprecedented incident left the girl traumatized to the point where she couldn’t sleep in her own bed for almost a week.
These rodents know no discrimination while selecting their targets. They can attack the common man as well as highly placed Govt. officials and politicians as was aptly proved in a recent attack. On 22nd April, 2013 a news channel Soweton Live reported that at 100 Plein Street, one of the buildings in the parliamentary precinct, rats wreaked havoc as they chewed telephone wires and left even left droppings on an official's desk. Neglecting up gradation of the building was believed to be the cause of the infection. Poison traps were promptly set up to counter the infestation. But the damage was already done.
Having said that rats are not the only rodents which are capable of causing damage. David Maccar on 12th April, 2013 reported that an angler was killed by a Beaver a kind of rodent while on a fishing trip to Belarus. Beavers are the 2nd largest rodents in the world. Beaver is basically a nocturnal semi-aquatic rodent having very powerful front teeth. Beavers have two distinct species the North American beaver (Castor Canadensis) (native to North America) and Eurasian beaver. The victim was bit by the rodent while trying to click its picture. The rodent bit him on the thigh severing an artery in the process which led to heavy blood loss and consequent death.
A new problem is emerging which needs our immediate attention. It is that of mutant rats. This has come to light as we see Iran struggling to treat its rat problem. The problem has reached epic proportions owing to mutant rats to the levels that snipers are being deployed at night to kill the rats. Giant rats that have been flushed out of their nests by melting snow are the focus of a renewed extermination effort in the Iranian capital, according to several reports. Some of the rodents reportedly weigh as much as 11 pounds. The Iranian scientists postulate that a genetic mutation seems to have occurred in the rats owing to the chemicals and radiation that they have been exposed to earlier. Attempts to kill the earlier generations of these rats with toxic chemicals is believed to have triggered this mutation which would have normally taken millions of years to evolve and develop. The result has been catastrophic as these rats now weigh 5-6 kilos instead of the earlier 60gm thus making it more difficult to capture them by the conventional means. Although some scientists express disbelief regarding the existence of these mutated rats they all seem to agree on the fact that some rats species have become resistant to traditional poisons. In 2012, a researchers in Britain published findings that estimated 75 percent of rats in West England were resistant to rodenticide.
Thus we have seen those rodents true to the title are perpetuators of misery and suffering worldwide. Also increasing number of species are becoming resistant to the traditional poisons. Thus the time has come to develop an out of the box approach and find new innovative ways of handling the rodent menace.