WBEZ | rats http://www.wbez.org/tags/rats Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Reining in the rats http://www.wbez.org/news/reining-rats-104075 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/5362943269_f1d08c480c_mTheDarkThing.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In August, Chicago decided to crack down on its rat problem by beefing up its rodent baiting army. But have more boots on the ground in the last three months helped?</p><p>The city added more crews because this year, 311 service calls for <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets.html" target="_blank">rodent baiting</a> &mdash; where crews search for and set out poison for rats &mdash; increased 28 percent from 2011.</p><p>Anne Sheahan, Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Streets and Sanitation, said a surge of calls in the summer is expected. Not only is the weather nice, but more outdoor activities mean more chances for rat food: garbage from picnics, scattered seed from birdfeeders and dog waste.</p><p>However, she said the jump in calls was most likely caused by the rats skating through last year&#39;s unseasonably warm winter.</p><p>But since the extra man power began working on Aug. 23, the number of&nbsp; 311 calls dropped.</p><p><iframe height="500" src="http://sandbox.almabahman.com/wbez/servicecalls.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Sheahan said the department added two more crews to help the city respond more quickly and do more preventative baiting. There are now 17 rodent baiting crews with two to three people per crew. She also said the department is looking to reassign some of their limited duty personnel &mdash; employees who can&#39;t operate heavy machinery, for example &mdash; to rodent baiting.</p><p>The city doesn&#39;t keep <a href="https://data.cityofchicago.org/Service-Requests/311-Service-Requests-Rodent-Baiting/97t6-zrhs" target="_blank">records</a> on the number of rats it catches, but it does note the number of premises that had rats, as well as those that were baited and had garbage on site. The city has visited more than 154,000 premises in the past six months.</p><p><iframe height="500" src="http://sandbox.almabahman.com/wbez/ratbaiting.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p>While the chart above shows a drastic difference in the past three months compared with the three months prior, it&#39;s important to note that there are 1,797 open cases from Aug. 23 to Nov. 25 not counted yet (the city does not record the numbers until cases are closed).</p></p> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 13:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/reining-rats-104075 Scientists demonstrate empathy in rats http://www.wbez.org/story/scientists-demonstrate-empathy-rats-94696 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-07/bartal1HR.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago researchers say it’s time to take another look at the noble rat. <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/334/6061/1427">They’ve demonstrated</a> what they call the first clear example in rodents of empathy, a quality previously only observed in primates.</p><p>Scientists have known that rodents show a primitive kind of empathy called “emotional contagion,” meaning a rat near another rat in distress will also feel distress. But the University of Chicago team designed an experiment to see if a rat would actually go out of its way to help a comrade.</p><p>They placed two rats in a cage. One roamed free while the other was trapped in a transparent stall in the center of the cage. The stall could only be opened by the other rat. Once he figured it out, the free rat would quickly move to liberate his cagemate.</p><p>“The trapped rat is now liberated and he runs around the arena,” said neurobiology professor Peggy Mason. “And the free rat runs after him. And jumps on him. And licks him. And it looks like a celebration.”</p><p>The scientists, beginning with graduate student Inbal Ben-Ami Bartal, then refined the experiment to be sure it really was empathy they were observing. They rigged the setup so that the liberator would not be able to play with his newly freed cagemate, to see if the action was motivated by wanting the reward of social interaction. But the behavior didn’t change even when there was no reward. They also tested whether the free rat would open the stall if it was empty, or if it contained a toy rat. He did not.</p><p>Finally, they put in a second stall, containing a handful of chocolate chips. To the scientists’ shock, the free rat would still release the trapped rat first before going for the chocolate -- about half the time.</p><p>“That was spectacularly clear, and what it tells us is that liberating a trapped cagemate is on a par with chocolate. And these are rats that like chocolate,” Mason said.</p><p>Even more staggering is that the free rat left some chocolate for his cagemate, rather than gobbling up all of it as they do when there’s no companion to think of.</p><p>Washington State University neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/334/6061/1358.summary">wrote an analysis</a> accompanying the research article, which appears in the journal Science. Panksepp said in an email that this experiment is the clearest-yet demonstration of behavior of this kind, but that further research is needed to untangle the motivation, be it empathy or "social stimulus enrichment."</p><p>The University of Chicago's Peggy Mason believes she's controlled for that possibility, and says she's certain that empathy is what's on display in the rat cage. She says the results suggest empathy goes back much farther in our evolutionary history than previously thought, and is therefore a deep and fundamental part of our very animal nature.</p><p>“What it basically tells us is that if we obey our biological inheritance, we’ll help each other,” Mason said. “To not help another person takes a conscious suppression of a natural biological tendency.”</p><p><object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,47,0" height="270" id="flashObj" width="480"><param name="movie" value="http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&amp;isUI=1"><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF"><param name="flashVars" value="@videoPlayer=1310843557001&amp;playerID=1217716884001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAAAp3Tjq0E~,iTywAQf1ctD7bjeOK3Q_u_yu5gvGIZDP&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true"><param name="base" value="http://admin.brightcove.com"><param name="seamlesstabbing" value="false"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="swLiveConnect" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" base="http://admin.brightcove.com" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" flashvars="@videoPlayer=1310843557001&amp;playerID=1217716884001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAAAp3Tjq0E~,iTywAQf1ctD7bjeOK3Q_u_yu5gvGIZDP&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true" height="270" name="flashObj" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash" seamlesstabbing="false" src="http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&amp;isUI=1" swliveconnect="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="480"></object></p></p> Wed, 07 Dec 2011 19:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/scientists-demonstrate-empathy-rats-94696 Chicago union cautions city of making rat problem worse http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-streets-and-sanitation/chicago-union-cautions-city-making-rat-problem-worse-84444 <p><p>A Chicago labor leader says the city could be facing a bigger rodent problem this summer. He says there will be fewer workers to combat rats. Lou Phillips is with Laborers' Local 1001. He says his union, which represents Chicago Streets and Sanitation workers, has received notice from the city that some workers will be re-deployed. Phillips says the city is taking workers away from tree trimming and rodent control - and putting them on street sweeping duty.</p><p>"They want their street sweeping to work, as well as I do," Phillips said. "But there's other ways to do it by cutting the bodies from services that are already depleted."</p><p>Street sweeping begins at the start of April.</p><p>Meanwhile, Matt Smith, a spokesman with Streets and Sanitation, said the staffing move is temporary and he said rodent complaints around the city are down so far this year compared to last year.</p><p>In a statement, Smith wrote, "The reason that we have to shift workers around is because there are 309 workers who don’t come to work every day or are on reduced duty assignments because they are on various forms of leave. Of those 309 workers, 202 are members of Local 1001. On any give day in our Bureau of Sanitation, which handles refuse collection and residential street sweeping as many as 30 to 35 sanitation laborers call off every day with absences that are not scheduled."</p></p> Tue, 29 Mar 2011 19:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-streets-and-sanitation/chicago-union-cautions-city-making-rat-problem-worse-84444