Pied Piper of Pacifica

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 26, 2015 in Rat Answers

Click photo to enlarge

A day in the life of a rodent rescuer is anything but boring.

One day, dozens of guinea pigs had to be removed from Delores Park. Another day, a hoarder’s home was full of rats that had to be captured and removed. Families who can no longer care for a chinchilla or a hamster sometimes bring them to parks and release them.

Jennifer Paz has seen it all. As the director of North Star Rescue, she answers those calls all over the Bay Area and knows just what to do to capture the animals and tend to their needs.

Last summer, she opened Dandelion Dreams, a pet supply store at 1610 Francisco Blvd, where she brings the animals she rescued. The shop is so named because that is one of the favorite greens for guinea pigs. There a family looking for a new pet can not only find guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, mice and rats, but also a new pet cage with hand-sewn hammocks and interior walls that can be changed to give the pet the most intellectually changing experiences. Pet environments in the shop are changed every week. Many of the accessories are hand made by Paz.

“It has all the things you need when you adopt these animals,” she said. “We even let people bring their cages back if they want to upgrade.”

Paz knows personally how important intellectual stimulation can be for animals as well as humans. She went to school in England where she earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology, a master’s in psychology and a PhD in biology. She worked with sea turtles, bats and is published in the field of pollination biology.

Returning to the states, she soon settled in Pacifica after coming here to create ceramics and teach ceramics at Clay Creations.

It was the sight of pregnant guinea pigs kept in a recycling bin outside a major chain pet store that inspired her to get involved with the rescue of these animals.

She picks up animals from shelters where they would have otherwise been euthanized.

“We are the only one doing rodents,” she said.

When a small colony of guinea pigs needed to be removed from Dolores Park, she captured them by luring them in boxes that contained vegetables. Next she addressed their medical issues and nursed them back from malnutrition. She lets visitors to the shop feed them cilantro and romaine. She introduces each one by name and by their roles in the colony, which are similar to the jobs and hierarchies in human communities.

“Guinea pigs do better when they are in at least pairs,” she said.

She rescued 89 rats in one apartment in San Francisco and brought them back to Dandelion Dreams. There are 25 of them left. She made sure every one got spayed or neutered and received necessary veterinary care.

“It’s harder to herd rats,” she said. “They are more clever and smaller.”

She looks after a colony of rats in San Francisco’s Dungeon, an historical attraction at Fisherman’s Wharf. The Dungeon adopted a colony of rats from North Star Rescue. Paz looks after them three times a week to make sure they are well fed and in good health.

She works with two local vets, All Care and Pacifica Pet Hospital.

“Without them, it would be impossible to do rescue,” she said. She also relies on the help of volunteers.

She said her dual role of director of rescue and pet supply shop proprietor is a dream come true. It’s a good use of her skills.

“We doubled the income of North Star Rescue since August. It’s creative, because we are making our own rat hammocks and cages for guinea pigs. It’s intellectually stimulating because we deal with a lot of animals who are not in the best situations. I wanted to be able to make a living doing the right thing. Hopefully, we can build it up to make a living,” she said.

She loves keeping in touch with families who adopted pets through her. One family adopted a high-strung rat last year and just sent her a picture of that same rat, relaxed and happy in his hand-made hammock.

Dandelion dreams proceeds go to supporting North Star Rescue and Coastside Cavy Guinea Pig Rescue, organizations that merged last August,

North Star Rescue is in the middle of a fundraising campaign right now with a goal of raising $5,000 so they can better coordinate with one particular shelter, do more rescues and hire another person to look after the animals. The fundraising is open until April 7.

Click on the fundraising site to donate or for more information –


Jane Northrop can be reached at jnorthrop@bayareanewsgroup.com

Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/pacifica/ci_27778502/pied-piper-pacifica?source=rss

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ACORN rally calls on Surrey to address a lack of affordable housing

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 26, 2015 in Rat News

SURREY — Imagine living in a home with no heat. Or a bed bug problem. Or perhaps unwanted pet rats.  

Then imagine living there for months.

That’s the case for many Surrey renters, according to ACORN Canada, a national organization with 70,000 members in 20 neighbourhood chapters across the country.

Tabitha Naismith, chair of the Surrey-Newton chapter, said she had a “slumlord” for five years in Surrey.

Tabitha Naismith, chair of ACORN’s Surrey-Newton chapter, outside Surrey City Hall Tuesday at a rally for affordable housing. (Photo: KEVIN HILL)

“It was hell,” she said. “My apartment was situated right beside the boiler room. It was a one-bedroom apartment. I had no thermostat in my apartment, I couldn’t control the heat. My heat was still on in June.

“My stove lit on fire,” she continued. “It took them about a month to replace my stove.”

Seven years ago, she got into a subsidized BC Housing home, currently residing in a Surrey public housing complex for low-income families called Greenbrook.

“It’s tough to get into those,” she said, noting there are only three BC Housing complexes in the city.

She said the difference is astounding.

“Knowing that my rent is cheaper, that I’m able to pay my rent, being able to have food on the table, knowing that my repairs are going to be done, knowing that they’re going to take me seriously, and protect my rights as a tenant,” has given her a quality of life she didn’t have before, she said.

ACORN is calling on Surrey to address the lack of affordable housing in the city and to take strides to strengthen tenants’ rights in those that currently exist, so more people can have the peace of mind that Naismith now has.

A modest crowd of 25 rallied at Surrey City Hall Tuesday afternoon calling for solutions.

Chanting “Who are we? Acorn. What do we want? Affordable housing,” the group marched around city hall to its front steps.


ACORN penned a letter to Mayor Linda Hepner, asking for two things: mandatory “in building” inclusionary zoning and expanded powers in the city’s Standards of Maintenance bylaw.

Inclusionary zoning, explained Naismith, requires a certain percentage of new construction built to be affordable for those with low income. She noted New York has utilized such a concept.

“What we want to see the City of Surrey do is with all these new developments is include subsidized housing in the developments,” said Naismith.

“They’re tearing down all the affordable housing around here,” she said standing outside city hall.

Homes are demolished to make way for new developments that price out previous residents, she added.

“It’s totally pushing people out.”

As for the city’s Standards of Maintenance Bylaw, Naismith said ACORN wants it to encompass issues like mold and infestation, which aren’t written into the current legislation.

“If you have cockroaches or your kids are getting asthma because they’re breathing in mold, we have no legal protection here in Surrey,” she said.

But a law is only useful if it’s enforced, she added, which is why she called on the city to increase the number of bylaw officers.

“We also want the bylaw officers to be more empowered. What we mean by that is ticketing infringing landlords on the spot.

“We want repeater penalties as well.”

Furthermore, she would like to see a registry of landlords that have been fined so “people know not to rent from these people.”

Asked why it’s important to ensure an adequate stock of affordable housing, she said, “Because the cost of living is going up these days. It’s so ridiculous. A lot of people are low income. If you’re on income assistance, you can’t afford to live in non-affordable housing. You dip into your rent portion, then you go hungry and can’t buy food. It affects seniors as well.”

Mayor Linda Hepner said all of council recognizes the city’s challenge with affordable housing.

“Anything we can do to advantage that, we would be looking at all avenues,” she said. “We’ve certainly got in mind, utilizing the Surrey City Development Corporation as well, to do some of those projects.”

Asked if inclusionary zoning is something she’d consider, Hepner said she would have to consult with the development industry to see if it makes economic sense.

Hepner said one route the city could go is offering “lifts.”

“If, for instance, you could get in your zone a housing unit of four storeys, then we could give you a lift to six storeys,” she said, on the caveat that developers “make many of the units that you get from the lift as affordable housing units. There are lots of avenues of exploration.”

Another possible route could be increasing development cost charges (DCCs) to provide funding for elements of affordable housing, she added.

“If the fundamental question is, as a city, do you have an affordable housing strategy? Then that’s easy to say yes, we’re looking at many avenues,” said Hepner, adding she doesn’t think inclusionary zoning is the only solution and said zeroing in on that option alone would be a “narrow focus.”

As for adding infestation and mold components to the Standards of Maintenance bylaw, Hepner said “that doesn’t seem unreasonable.”

“The only hesitation I would have is I don’t know where that responsibility lies,” she continued. “Whether that responsibility lies with the province under tenancy or whether that responsibility lies with standards of maintenance at the city. So I would need clarification around who actually then ensures that that is happening. Because the one thing I don’t want to become is the province’s residential tenancy branch.”

Asked if she would consider an increase in bylaw officers, Hepner said the city added new officers this year.

According to Surrey’s bylaw enforcement manager Jas Rehal, Surrey currently has 31 positions, three of which were added this year. Six of those positions are currently vacant and the city is in the process of filling them, said Rehal.

“I think it needs to be recognized that Surrey is probably the only city in the country that has put $9 million into a housing fund,” Hepner said. “It continues to be a front-and-centre issue for us. Plus, don’t forget, most of the reason that 1,000 people move here every single month is because we have the affordability factor.”

Of ACORN’s proposed solutions, she said, “If they’ve got some good ideas that we can implement, I’d be happy to do it.”


© 2015 Surrey Now

Article source: http://www.thenownewspaper.com/news/acorn-rally-calls-on-surrey-to-address-a-lack-of-affordable-housing-1.1804372

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Giant Rats Sniff Out TB in Mozambique

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 25, 2015 in Rat Answers

Giant rats may strike fear and disgust into the hearts of homeowners worldwide, but researchers in impoverished Mozambique are improbably turning some of them into heroes.

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At Eduardo Mondlane University in the capital Maputo, nine giant rats are busy at work — sniffing out tuberculosis-causing bacteria from rows of sputum samples.

These are no ordinary rats, as they have undergone six months of training in Tanzania. Their most distinguishing asset is their impeccable sense of smell.

Placed inside a glass cage, a rat darts from sample to sample, then stops or rubs its legs, indicating that a sample is infected with a TB causing bacteria.

Once the task is complete, it is given a treat through a syringe for a job well done.

Rate the Subway Rat: Photos

“Within 30 minutes, the rat can test close to a hundred samples, which normally takes a laboratory technician four days,” said Emilio Valverde, TB program director at APOPO, the organisation leading the research.

The project, which started in February 2013, has brought hope to thousands of TB sufferers who sometimes receive false results and test negative using the standard laboratory system.

In 2006, tuberculosis was declared a national emergency in Mozambique, with 60,000 people in 2014 said to be infected, according to the ministry of health.

That number was a 10 percent increase from 2013.

Samples delivered to the university for testing are collected from 15 health centres across Maputo.

Belgian group APOPO is planning to expand the program to other parts of the country, while working on getting the system approved by the World Health Organization.

The organisation claims rat testing is more cost effective than other conventional methods.

Each rat costs around $6,700 to $8,000 to train, with a six-to-eight-year life span.

The cost is lower compared to rapid diagnostic test GeneXpert, which costs up to $17,000 per device, setting the state back between $10 and $17 per test.

NYC Rats Carrying a Host of Scary Diseases

The kitten-size rats are also used by APOPO to detect landmines by sniffing out explosives.

They are light enough to cross terrain without triggering the mines, and are followed by de-mining experts who reward the rats with bananas.

The rats weigh up to 1.5 pounds and are said to be “easier to catch and train” — according to Valverde.

Samples pointed out by the rats to contain TB bacteria are then sent for further tests using fluorescence microscopy, a more sensitive laboratory technique.

The results are sent back to health centres, allowing patients to start treatment early.

Although TB is a treatable disease, in underdeveloped countries like Mozambique it can be deadly if left untreated and is particularly harmful to people living with HIV.

Mozambique is one of the countries worst affected by TB and 1 in 10 adults is HIV-positive.

With World Tuberculosis Day being marked on Tuesday, the Mozambican Ministry of Health said it was cautiously monitoring the APOPO work.

“This technique has to be compared to others that are available and already WHO approved, such as GeneXpert or LED microscope,” said Ivan Manhica, who heads the national programme for tuberculosis at the health ministry.

According to the WHO, TB killed 1.5 million people in 2013.

Article source: http://news.discovery.com/animals/giant-rats-sniff-out-tb-in-mozambique-150324.htm

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Phoebe Blue’s ‘Creative Happenings,’ a night of DIY entertainment, to retire …

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 24, 2015 in Rat News

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — On the third Wednesday of the month, incense fills Hashtag Bar with fragrant smoke and a haze that seems to slow patrons down.

The Van Duzer Street space transforms with “Phoebe Blue’s Creative Happenings,” a variety show conceived by musician Phoebe Blue, a Stapletonite with big blue eyes and an original sound that matches her quirky sensibilities. Nearly two years in the making, she’s created her own brand of DIY culture through the monthly performances.

The nights are lightly attended, despite the broad tastes the artists represent, from folk to rap to something called “peace metal.” On the up side, the relatively low attendance means no one is chatting loudly in the back, breaking the focus many of the performances elicit.

But on the down side, the sparse crowd shows how difficult it is to create and sustain this kind of original entertainment on Staten Island.

Blue plans to retire the show in three months, when she will have brought together 145 artists on Staten Island, never once repeating an act.

“It’s about closing a chapter on a good note and concluding that story and going onto another one,” Blue said. “Sometimes you have to let something die to find new life.”


The monthly shows are as open-ended as their name suggests. Creative Happenings gets started with a few songs from Blue, followed by a handful of other acts, including dance, poetry, spoken word, stand-up or other types of music.

“Once a month, we make magic happen,” Blue said.

Blue discussed the history of the Creative Happenings one afternoon from her Stapleton apartment — a space which reflects the whimsical spirit of her shows. Her two pet rats crawl onto her lap as colorful bulbs and skylighting cast a rainbow aura around her face. Walls are lined with art friends have gifted, a hula hoop, pages from a book, Gumby figurines. Next to a television sits a mini-telephone booth full of CDs.

From her apartment to the monthly performances at Hashtag, creativity appears to follow Blue.

“When the show starts, everyone pays attention and that’s the idea,” Blue said. “Everyone has an authentic time, and they’re possibly surprised that it can hold their attention spans.”


Happenings might not have happened if Blue hadn’t discovered the genre that formed her into an original musician. She picked up her first guitar at 16, but it wasn’t until she was 19 when she discovered the elusive genre of “Anti-Folk.”

The genre has been around since the mid-1980s and includes contemporary artists like Kimya Dawson, Regina Spektor and the sometimes bashful Grammy award-winning artist Beck. With quirky songs about everything from political movements to tacos, it politely says “thanks but no thanks” to the preceding 60s-era folk music with a raw, punk-like approach to its music and lyrics.

“You just need to tell a story, maybe with a little humor thrown into it,” Blue summarizes.

She didn’t know she was an anti-folker until she performed at one of the movement’s more prominent venues on the Lower East Side and an anti-folk expert labeled her as such, she said. But it gave her a community and female musicians she could look up to and a newfound career goal.

With a couple different bands over the years, Blue has made a name for herself in the anti-folk scene, performing among other accomplished musicians at the New York Antifolk Festival.

Watch her most recent video with her band, Phoebe Blue and the Make Baleaves, here:

Fast forward a few years. Discouraged by the lack of artist-friendly venues on Staten Island that curate their own shows, Blue gladly accepted an offer to curate her own show at Full Cup about two years ago. Rather than wait for some venue owner to provide a night of entertainment, she created it herself.

“It’s a way for us to cut out the middleman,” Blue said. “We’ll leave that to Brooklyn and Manhattan.”

Blue originally envisioned it first as a way to fill a hole in her own life for artistic performances on Staten Island. But it quickly filled a hole in the arts scene on Staten Island, where there are many artists but few venues.

Even when the Full Cup closed, Blue moved the show around Staten Island, from storefronts to her front porch. She even held one inside her third-floor apartment, which she shares with her boyfriend and fellow musician, Tom Bones.

The show has gotten to a point now where artists from as far away as Australia request to perform at her shows on Staten Island. They find her by Googling “Anti-Folk.”


Two years will have been a solid run for Creative Happenings, Blue conceded. Like any good Scorpio, Blue recognizes that she’ll only grow by changing, she said. The next Creative Happenings will be on April 15. After that, there will only be three more.

Blue will continue to perform around Staten Island, Brooklyn and the LES. But unless someone asks her, she won’t be curating shows like the one at Hashtag Bar.

Blue is 27 years old — young in human years, but “about 77 in music years.” So while the decision to end Creative Happenings largely stems from a desire to move onto the next project, there’s a sense that Blue is letting go of a dream, perhaps regretfully.

“When I discovered anti-folk, I sort of put all my eggs in one basket, and thought that would be my career,” Blue said. “But it didn’t happen. And I don’t think it’s going to happen. In a way, I think I’m past my prime.”

Article source: http://www.silive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/03/phoebe_blues_creative_happenin.html

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Scratch From Pet Rat Kills Child; CDC Warns of Risk

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 23, 2015 in Rat News

Scratch From Pet Rat Kills Child; CDC Warns of Risk

THURSDAY, Dec. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) — The tragic death from “rat-bite fever” of a 10-year-old San Diego boy highlights the risk carried by the pet rodents, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Rat-bite fever is a rare but potentially fatal illness that should be considered in persons with rash, fever and joint pain, and when a history of rodent exposure is reported,” said a team led by Dr. Jessica Adam of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service.

The case outlined in the report occurred in August of 2013. Adam’s team said the boy, previously healthy, first developed a fever of 102.6 degrees and “experienced rigors, fevers, vomiting, headaches and leg pains.”

His doctor initially diagnosed the illness as infection with a gastrointestinal virus. But “during the next 24 hours, the patient experienced vomiting and persistent fever. He was confused and weak before collapsing at home,” the CDC report said.

By the time paramedics reached the boy he was “unresponsive,” and he died in a hospital emergency department.

Blood tests and autopsy reports revealed infection with Streptobacillus moniliformis, a potentially deadly germ that causes rat-bite fever and “can be transmitted to humans through rodent bites or scratches; approximately one in 10 bites might cause infection,” according to the CDC authors.

Adam and her colleagues said that the boy had two pet rats: the first one tested negative for S. moniliformis, but the second, recently acquired, tested positive. “The autopsy report noted that patient had been scratched by his pet rats,” the researchers said.

Adam’s team suggested that rat-bite fever could be under-reported because the condition does not have to be reported to health authorities in the United States.

Trying to determine its overall incidence, they looked through hospital records in San Diego County for 2000-2012 and found 16 cases during that time period, which did not include the one fatal case involving the 10-year-old in 2013.

“Most infections (94 percent) were pet-associated,” the team noted. “One patient had an occupational exposure (rat breeder). Sixteen of 17 patients reported exposure to rats. Of these, 44 percent reported only having handled a rat, 38 percent reported being bitten and 13 percent reported a scratch.”

Based on the findings, Adam’s team said that doctors need to be alert to rat-bite fever when symptoms occur, and they stress that “nearly all domestic and wild rats carry S. moniliformis.”

Quick treatment is crucial, because even though rat-bite fever is treatable with antibiotics, fatalities do occur in about 13 percent of untreated cases.

The researchers also stressed that a scratch or bite from the rat isn’t necessary for transmission, since infection can occur “through ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacteria.”

Their advice to owners of pet rats? “Wear gloves and wash their hands thoroughly after handling rats or cleaning rat cages, avoid rat secretions and promptly seek medical care if they have rat-bite fever symptoms after contact with rats.”

The findings are published in the Dec. 18 issue of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information

Find out more about rat-bite fever at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Dec. 18, 2014

E.J. Mundell

Last Updated: Dec 18, 2014

Article source: http://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/misc-infections-news-411/scratch-from-pet-rat-kills-child-cdc-warns-of-risk-694809.html

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Frye: PET balls are great for fires

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 22, 2015 in Rat Answers

Nothing gets a fire going quite like gasoline.

A less-than-environmentally conscious neighbor proved that in dramatic fashion when we were kids. We lived next to a farm. One large hayfield was steps from our side door.

The farm — like those with chickens, dairy cows and hogs, and all the corn and other feed needed to sustain them — sometimes had rats.

They usually didn’t stray far enough to reach our places. But when this neighbor for a while tried to keep a horse in a fenced area more suitable size-wise for a large dog, they migrated in.

His solution was to pour gasoline down their holes, drop in a match, then greet the rats coming out the other end with birdshot.

You might call it the “kawhoosh and bang� theory of pest management.

It worked OK, I suppose — for everyone but the rats — though it didn’t make him really popular with the suddenly nervous neighbors. And when his daughter later accidentally set fire to about a half-dozen acres of the hayfield in another, non-rat instance of pyromania, well, it kind of put the kibosh on all the burning for a while.

But petroleum — in at least one form — can be a great help if you’re an outdoorsman.

Maybe you’re on a weekend camp out and want to start a fire to make mountain pies. Maybe you’ve wandered off the trail and realize you’re going to have to spend an unexpected night outside. Maybe you’ve swamped your canoe on a backcountry excursion and, wet and cold, getting a fire started is critical to fending off hypothermia.

That can be tough if the conditions aren’t right.

Petroleum balls, or PET balls, as some call them, can be a great help. They’re a dependable firestarter and fire extender.

Quite simply, a PET ball is a cotton ball — or gob of drier lint, if you really want to make these on the cheap — that you’ve lathered up with petroleum jelly. When they’re good and oily, you stuff them into some kind of waterproof container. I use old film canisters, but a candy tin or even a sealable plastic bag would be OK.

When you need to start a fire, take one out, peel it apart until you’ve created what looks like a cotton ball or drier lint bird’s nest and hit it with a flame or even a spark from a ferro rod or flint and steel. You get instant fire.

The fibers of the cotton ball burn but much slower than they would otherwise. They’ll usually even light when a bit damp. In any case, you can count on each ball to burn for five minutes or longer rather than a matter of seconds.

That gives you time to add kindling and build the fire you need to have fun or stay alive.

You can carry a dozen of these in a backpack, coat pocket or tackle box without even knowing it. Just stuff them in and go. When you want a fire — and especially when you really need a fire — they’re a great tool.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them for rat control, though. Let your neighbors develop any twitches on their own.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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Article source: http://triblive.com/sports/outdoors/8001053-74/fire-ball-balls

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Pet Talk: Household toxicities

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 20, 2015 in Rat Answers

Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2015 11:37 pm

Pet Talk: Household toxicities

From our community

Houston Community Newspapers

Although we may be extra-cautious when using household cleaners, automotive products, or pest control products in our homes and gardens, it may come as a surprise that the tasty morsel we just dropped while preparing dinner could endanger our best friend.

Chocolate can be found lying around the majority of households, especially during the holidays. Depending on the size and type of chocolate, it can be very dangerous to your pet’s health if consumed. Make sure that your children are aware of this, as they might think they’re treating Fido by sneaking him a piece of chocolate cake under the dinner table. If your dog does get a hold of some, chocolate is absorbed within about an hour, so you should call your veterinarian immediately.

“Additionally, grapes and raisins can cause renal failure in dogs if eaten,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas AM College of Veterinary Medicine Biomedical Sciences. “The exact cause of this is unknown, and the amount that needs to be consumed in order to be poisonous is unknown as well.”

While the toxicity of many food items may surprise you, the assumption that rat poison will only eliminate rats is a misconception. Rat poison can be lethal to both cats and dogs when ingested. If you have pets in your home, it is best to opt for another pest control method.

One of the most common and dangerous household items that is poisonous to pets is antifreeze. “Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which is very toxic to animals,” Barr said. “Toxicity can be treated, but only if treatment is instituted quickly.”

Using plants as décor can often liven up the backyard and even the inside of your home. However, there are many plants that cause health problems if eaten by your pets. Sago palms, for instance, can cause severe liver damage and even death if eaten.

“Lilies also have a strange effect when eaten in cats,” said Barr. “It causes kidney failure that is particularly difficult to treat.”

If your pet does ingests any harmful foods or household items, it is best to play it safe and contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center; they can help you determine if your pet needs to be seen by a doctor and if they consumed a toxic dose. The Texas AM Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital ER is always available to advise on toxic ingestions.

“Always be aware of the dangers of the things your pets have access to. If they are unsupervised, a safe assumption is that they might eat anything they are in contact with,” said Barr. “Have a discriminatory eye, and try to avoid having those items in your home.”

There is no harm in being extra cautious when dealing with possible toxicities around the house. Be sure to keep these particular items out of your pet’s reach at all times and to call your veterinarian or poison control center immediately if they do come intocontact with them.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine Biomedical Sciences, Texas AM University.


Thursday, March 19, 2015 11:37 pm.

Article source: http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/sugar_land/living/pet-talk-household-toxicities/article_ff64ec34-ea68-56e2-8fd2-9e2d3d91b7e5.html

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Auckland park rangers trap and kill pet

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 18, 2015 in Rat Answers

GRIEVING FAMILY: Lara and Bryan Jensen with son Kyah , 4, and Hunter, 1, are devastated their pet cat Teddy was killed.

Lara Jensen is horrified her family’s pet cat Teddy was caught in a pest trap then killed with a shot to the chest by Auckland Council park rangers at Shakespear Regional Park.

The Auckland Council park at the Whangaparaoa Peninsula’s northern tip is an open sanctuary with a predator-proof fence to protect native wildlife.

The incident has prompted the council to review and possibly change its cat control policy at the sanctuary.

BELOVED PET: One-year-old cat Teddy was ‘‘the greatest cat ever’’, the Jensen family says.

The one-year-old Persian Bengal cross cat went missing from his Army Bay home on March 7 when owners Lara and husband Bryan were away for the weekend.

“Teddy didn’t come home so we called the local vets, looked on Pets on the Net and Trade Me and posted a missing cat report on the Hibiscus Coast group Facebook page,” Lara said.

“After nearly a week of searching, Bryan suggested calling the rangers at the regional park. 

“To my surprise, the ranger I spoke to said they had some cats in their freezer, but they were from last month so he would check again and get back to me.”

Lara emailed a photo of Teddy to help with identification.

A few hours passed and she received a call from the ranger who asked to come and talk to her in person. He had some bad news.

“Twenty minutes later a ranger came around. I was a mess by then,” Lara said.

Teddy was ‘the greatest cat ever’ who belonged to her four-year-old son Kyah and came to the cry of her one-year-old son Hunter, Lara said.

“We are all absolutely mortified. I had to tell Kyah that Teddy wasn’t coming home… he howled and cried. It was awful.”

Lara said Teddy was wearing a collar with a magnetic cylinder to open their cat door and was microchipped.

The cat was spotted on camera, and captured 800 metres inside the pest proof fence in a cage trap.

Lara has written a letter to the Auckland Council and contacted the SPCA.

“What really angers me is there is no attempt to find the families of these pets. It’s absolutely cold that they don’t let family members know – people are out there looking for their missing cats.

“We would have rehomed Teddy if it was going to be a problem to the sanctuary. We didn’t even get a warning, and it is wrong.”

In light of the incident, the Auckland Council will review its cat control policy at Shakespear Open Sanctuary, which could include a ‘one strike’ scenario.

Where it is obvious the animal is a domestic pet, it may be returned to its owner with a warning that if found inside the fence again it would be shot in line with the policy.

“The need to maintain the integrity of the open sanctuary is paramount, but there may be the option of returning the cat to the owner with the appropriate warning,” Auckland Council parks, sports and recreation manager Ian Maxwell said.

The Shakespear Open Sanctuary is home to some rare and endangered species, so cats and other mammals pose a considerable threat. The cat was captured near a known population of threatened moko skinks, and cats are renowned lizard predators. Two new species of native lizard have been discovered in the open sanctuary since pests were removed in 2011.

Maxwell said the incident highlights that while the pest-proof fence is restricting almost all animals, some do enter around the fence ends or through the electronic gate via vehicle movements.

“The pest proof fence works. However, a peninsula neck fence has ends and these ends can and will be found by pests. The fence was designed to integrate a popular regional park with high conservation values,” Maxwell said.

“We always recognised we border an urban population with valued domestic and pet animals. In situations of imminent threat to wildlife or an unwillingness to engage with live capture traps, then other methods of cat control will be used.”

The Jensens have two other pet cats.


This summer six rats, six hedgehogs, two cats and one possum were captured inside the Shakespear open sanctuary.  

Operational experience from similarly managed sites has shown that returned cats can become repeat offenders and exhibit ‘trap shy’ behaviour, making them difficult and time consuming to recapture if they return to the sanctuary, Auckland Council parks, sports and recreation manager Ian Maxwell said.

He said the park has a buffer zone leading up to the pest proof fence where the council has more discretion with pests. In the past, where cats have been found in the buffer zone, the council has attempted to trap and return them to their owners.

The park is home to large number of breeding kereru, tui, moreporks, bellbirds and kakariki. A number of birds also visit from nearby bird sanctuary Tiritiri Matangi Island.

NZ dotterel and variable oystercatcher now breed successfully around the park, along with kingfishers, pied stilts, and occasionally banded dotterels. 

Four species of native skink – copper skink, ornate skink, shore skink and moko skink have also been found.

Takahe may eventually be introduced if the park remains pest-free.

 – Rodney Times

Next National story:

Christchurch schools to get $138m for earthquake repairs

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Article source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/67423828/Auckland-park-rangers-trap-and-kill-pet

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We’re here and we’re queer at Lakehead

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 18, 2015 in Rat News



March 17, 2015





Celebrating two decades of Pride Central

By Lindsey Kelly

In the labyrinthine bowels of the university is where an enterprising student will find the most useful and interesting Lakehead centres. LUSU runs their hub within this cement dungeon, and just beyond the stairwell underneath the bookstore (next to the Health and Wellness centre) lays the entrance to Pride Central. Non-descript brown doors open to a fantastic mural. Bright, beautiful rainbows adorn the once white walls and act as a welcoming beacon for students visiting the centre. These walls were painstakingly painted by current Co-ordinator Tracy Pollard, and students Violet Cross and Cassandra Bruneau.  Comfortable leather couches line the wall, and it’s common to walk in and find any number of students hanging around, sharing stories or YouTube clips, or grabbing a nap between classes. Warm walls invite warm people. Welcome to Pride Central.

Tracy and I spent the first twenty minutes of our interview discussing the benefits of pet rats. There is a jar of candy on her desk. It is impossible to find any discomfort in this space. “It’s meant to be a welcoming space… you can identify in any way. As long as you respect the people and the space, you are so welcome here,” she confirms my impressions exactly. Pride has served as a beacon for students, a safe space in a world that can be chaotic, and at times insurmountably cruel to those deemed as the ‘other.’ Pride for many is a temporary escape from the harsh glare of ignorance, a space where love can be shared freely.

It is also a place of activism, of changing the culture of Lakehead and our surrounding community. Emily Lauzon, current Services Officer at Lakehead, was involved with Pride for several years during her Social Work placement, and was one of the key movers and shakers in getting Pride turned into a full time centre. “There were two of us working 20 hours a week, and one day me and Ashley sat down… we need to make this a full time centre, this isn’t doing as much for the community as it could be with a full time position. So, in 2008 we did a presentation. 2009 was the first year it was a full time centre.” 2009 was only six years ago.

Pride Central is the only location that does this kind of work in the Thunder Bay area. In addition to work in the community, Pride also seeks to support students and youth in the surrounding community. Areas such and Dryden and Atikokan are often reaching out for assistance, seeing Pride is such a unique venture for students and young people feeling isolated. Pride is a safe space for all, regardless of gender identity, sexual attraction, and many of the other binaries that are unfortunately far too solidified in our society today. With events such as “Pride in the North” (occurring this upcoming week, boasting activities from Lip Synching contests to drag competitions. Definitely come out and check some of them out!) Pride has become a hugely influential location within the queer community of Thunder Bay.

This reach is expanding, with Gay Straight Alliances becoming an increasingly popular group in high schools and clubs such as The Other 10%. The dialogue is coming easier now, and yet walking into the unknown can still sometimes be a difficult task. One of the best pieces of advice I received in overcoming that anxiety was from David Ivany, former Pride co-ordinator, and beacon in the queer community, known as DJ FabDave, and the Glamorous Fabulous Portia. “I wasn’t sure if Pride was the place for me,” he stated, chuckling “it was a place where I was kind of second guessing a lot of myself, and how it was run before. But once you leap over that first bit of anxiety, it’s such a wonderful space.”

Next time you find yourself with a spare moment in the catacombs of the university, stop in at Pride. Get comfy on one of the couches, admire the mural. Because I can assure you Lakehead, we are here, we are super queer, and we are going for another twenty years and more.



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Category: AC

Article source: http://www.theargus.ca/index.php/archives/17812

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Do rats really spread disease and illnesses?

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 17, 2015 in Rat Answers

Rats are often thought of as disease-ridden pests – but do they really spread illness?

The creatures have in recent months been absolved of responsibility for outbreaks of black death which swept Europe in the 14th century.

Scientists said in February it was actually gerbils which brought the bubonic plague to Europe from Asia.

But rats do carry, and can spread, a number of nasty diseases.

Along with fleas and other parasites, wild rats are known to carry and help transmit illnesses such as foot and mouth – which brought Britain’s countryside to a stand still in 2001.

And they have also been linked to more obscure conditions including cryptosporidiosis – a parasite-borne intestinal disease.

Pet rats are generally disease-free.

A rat
A rat

Weil’s disease

Weil’s disease is perhaps the best known disease spread by rats.

Technically is an infection known as leptospirosis, and while in common cases it can cause flu-like symptoms, including chills and headaches.

In severe cases it can lead to organ failure and bleeding.

Weil’s disease is spread by contact with soil or water contaminated with the urine of certain wild animals, including rats. The condition can be treated with antibiotics.


Rats are a known carrier of the bacteria that can lead to salmonella.


All mammals can be affected by TB and rats are no different, they can both carry and transmit the disease.


Rats can, and do, carry the bacteria which can be passed on through their faeces.

Article source: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/rats-really-spread-disease-illnesses-8851499

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