German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 30, 2015 in Rat News

The flat in Munich, Germany, was completely given over to the rodents, with sawdust and straw covering the floor and food bowls laid out for the unusual pets.

Animal rescue workers found nests brimming with hungry babies in drawers, behind cabinets and under the bed.

Judith Brettmeister, from the Tierschutzverein München shelter, in Munich, said: “Apparently the man tried to take care of the rats properly.

“But given the sheer number of rats he ended up out of his depth.”

“In all the drawers, in the bed frame and behind the cabinets were nests with babies and they were all hungry.

“There were around 300 in total. A truly horrifying picture.”

The rats were found nesting in drawers, behind cupboards and under the bed (Tierschutzverein Mnchen)The rats were found nesting in drawers, behind cupboards and under the bed (Tierschutzverein München)

A social worker contacted the shelter after the man complained he was having trouble taking care of 20 pet rats at home and wanted to give them up during a hospital visit.

But when rescue workers arrived they found a nightmare scene with the apartment infested with the vermin.

read more:
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Sawdust and straw covered the floors and cages can be seen (Tierschutzverein Mnchen)Sawdust and straw covered the floors and cages can be seen (Tierschutzverein München)

Extraordinarily, most of the rats have been allowed to stay in the flat as Tierschutzverein München could only house 20 at its shelter.

The rest of the rodents will be kept and fed in the two-bedroom flat until new owners can be found.

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Home remade for family lakeside fun

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 28, 2015 in Rat News

The Seattle Times | In the basement, Suyama Peterson Deguchi exposed and blackened the steel stretcher beam. The floor is the original concrete slab, ground down and refinished. Interior designer Sara Johnson of SJ Studio designed the lime-green curtain that serves as visual and acoustical separation for the media room, unseen.

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Pikes/Pines | The Black Rats, Brown Rats, Sewer Rats and Norway Rats and …

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

(Image: Mark Atwood via Flickr)

(Image: Mark Atwood via Flickr)

On a recent evening I was waiting for friends to disentangle from a crowded bar on 10th. In a slight haze, I tuned out the nightlife and looked around. Almost immediately I saw a shadow dart between a crack in a building and a dumpster. Several more zipped by, hugging the wall to a pile of refuse that had spilled behind the nearest establishment. Soon squealing erupted from the pile and two of these shadows bounced around on the edge of the garbage. I couldn’t help but shudder. I was watching rats.

When I say rats, I specifically mean those we’ve inadvertently spread across the world with our boats and planes. There are native rats in Washington, just not in your attic or on the streets of Pike and Pine. Being a major port, we are “lucky” to have two non-native species that grace our urban environment, both the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) and the Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus).

Most of us are familiar with Brown Rats, as they’re the larger, dominate species. You may call them Norway Rats (it was once believed they were native to Norway when they showed up on ships in England), or maybe a Sewer Rat (referencing their habit of using our underground labyrinths as homes). Lab and pet rats are descendants of the wild Brown Rat but no one is totally certain of the species’ native home, except that they started to appear in Europe around the time trade with Asia began. Now they are on every continent excepting Antarctica (but boy are they close).

They can be frightfully large, 20 inches including the tail, large enough to incite panic in most. Brown rats burrow, which is why we find them in our crawl spaces, basements, and in the myriad forgotten holes we’ve created in developing a city. And, to top it all off they’re prolific breeders in those good habitats (temperate places with food and water aplenty). Females reach maturity at 5 weeks, gestate for 21 days, and then regularly have litters of 7 or more throughout the year. That’s a lot of rats.

The smaller Black Rat (at most around 10 inches long total) similarly originated in (Tropical) Asia and hitched their way around the globe on early trade ships. In the game of expansion they’re less aggressive than Brown Rats, but have held on in major ports in the US. While Brown Rats like to burrow, Black Rats like to climb, which is why they’ve been given the name Roof Rat. They will happily take up residence in your attic.

Rats below. Rats above. Great.

Rats populations thrive with access to food and water. Lack of water appears restricting but, what really brings all the rats to the yard is food. We leave food everywhere, even when we think we’re being clean. Rats will happily burrow into garbage to eat the tail of a burrito you tossed. Anything we eat, rats probably will too.

No one like’s to think about these things, which is why we don’t hear too much about rats. Most infestations are kept quiet (for good reason) and I’m not writing this to coach you on how to deal with a rat problem. In the challenging environment we’ve created for most species, it’s amazing rats thrive and it’s ironic that species we appreciate on the hill, like Barred Owls and Red-tailed Hawks, likely persist on them. Rats may not be deterred by the average house cat but they’re good prey for wild predators.

The bottom line for us in of the biological story of rats is that they’re vectors for many diseases (over 50 have been counted, but most notably hosting fleas that carry bubonic plague). I would never suggest we should attempt to co-inhabit peacefully, despite wanting people to appreciate them as fascinating living creatures. I definitely know how irrational rats can make us: At age 5, I woke up to find my father trying to deal with a rat by smashing it with a hammer. I also know how smart, fun, and affectionate a pet rat can be: I had two as a child. That still doesn’t stop my skin from crawling when I see them climbing through garbage. Rats are kinda gross, but that’s part of their success, because they’re willing to live on our margins. Regardless they’re still part of our urban natural history.

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Condemned Critter Cafe won’t be allowed to reopen

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

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Young boy writes book about sister’s rare syndrome

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 21, 2015 in Rat News

A young boy trying to spread knowledge about a rare disorder stopped in St. John’s Friday, to present a book he wrote about his sister.

Tommy Glatzmayer’s sister Melanie has Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. He was inspired to write a book about her, after witnessing bullying at school.

“In Grade one I went out to the hallway and I saw people laughing at someone’s work and it was my sister’s work,” said Glatzmayer, who lives in Ontario.

“I started crying because my sister has a disability and she can barely write her name on her work. They started making fun of it. It wasn’t right.”

Melanie Glatzmayer

Melanie Glatzmayer is one of about a hundred people in Canada with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. (CBC)

Glatzmayer wrote the book Tommy and Melanie Have Two Pet Rats and One Syndrome when he was six years of age. His mother Nathalie Welding helped to write it, and self-published the book that same year.

Since then, Tommy and Melanie have given more than 70 presentations across North America, joined by their two pet rats.

Tommy Glatzmayer hopes the presentations will teach others about the syndrome — while also promoting acceptance of those with disabilities.

Glatzmayer’s mother said the last few years have been an incredible experience.

“I don’t think we ever realized how much our kids would teach us,” said Welding.

Tommy Glatzmayer and rat

Tommy Glatzmayer shows one of his pet rats to students at St. Matthew’s Elementary in St. John’s. (CBC)

“Tommy has really taught us how to accept Melanie.”

The family stopped off in St. John’s Friday, to give presentations to students at St. Matthew’s Elementary and at the Janeway Children’s Hospital.

Since 2009, Glatzmayer and his family have distributed more than 10,000 books and have started drum circle programs to help other families.

The disorder was first described by Dutch pediatrician Cornelia de Lange in 1933.

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Siblings spread message of love and acceptance

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 20, 2015 in Rat News

Melanie Glatzmayer, three years older than her brother, was born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome — a rare developmental disorder with only 100 known cases in Canada.

It has affected, among other things, her vision, her hearing and her ability to communicate and eat. Now 15, she has already undergone 14 surgeries.

Tommy, whose family lives in Manotick, Ont., didn’t think that should stop people from being kind to her. To educate his friends, he wrote a book called “Tommy and Melanie Have Two Pet Rats and One Syndrome.”

The book ended up changing her life. With it, Tommy encouraged a lot of people to smile and say hi to her — and to anyone who’s considered different — instead of staring.

“I find if someone smiles at me it makes me feel pretty good, it makes my day, and if you just look at somebody with a straight face, or look at someone like they’re different or something, it’s kind of not very nice, and makes them down a little bit,” said Tommy, 12.

Their mother, Nathalie Wendling, said the community’s reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. She said now, when they go to a hockey game, dozens of people will stop and greet Melanie, and at school, students say hello in the hallway.

“If she could say ‘hi’ to 20 people in a day, this is like her favourite thing. She loves that people take the time to say hi to her,” Wendling said.

After the book was self-published by his family, Tommy began giving presentations at schools to spread his message.

He has presented to children across the country, and is now in Newfoundland with his family — including the rats — to give presentations at St. Matthew’s and the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre today.

Wendling said both her children have displayed incredible strength and courage in their own ways throughout their lives, and they taught her a lot about love and acceptance.

“I always thought I was going to have kids because I was wanting to teach them how to swim, and how to ski, and how to do this and how to do that. What I didn’t realize about having children was how much they were going to teach me,” she said.

Tommy taught her how to accept Melanie’s disability.

“The thing he taught us most about Melanie was how to accept her and not try and change her to be like everybody else. He’s always like, just accept her the way she is and let’s make this work.”

Tommy’s will to help hasn’t faded since he wrote the book. He has written a second book, which features kids in his neighbourhood, and he started a drum circle for people with and without disabilities.

“We created that because my sister was sitting at home staring at her iPad, and that’s all she’d do all day, so we decided to make a drum circle so she could make more friends and meet new people, and her social life got bigger and better,” he said.

“People with special needs come, and people that look different come, and they feel good because they have friends and people can hang out in the neighbourhood.”

He plans to start a drum circle at his sister’s high school, where he will be a student next year.

Tommy will make a presentation this morning to students at St. Matthew’s School in St. John’s, and to the public at 3 p.m. at the Janeway.

Twitter: @TelyLouis



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Cambodia enlists pack of giant rats to find land mines

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 19, 2015 in Rat News

The Cambodian government is using an unorthodox method—giant trained rats—in their efforts to address the country’s land mine problem, the Bangkok Post reports.

This is them at work:

Unexploded devices including mines and unexploded shells have killed nearly 20,000 Cambodians since 1979, according to the Cambodian government, and another 44,000 people have been injured.

Fourteen large rodents, imported from Tanzania, have arrived in Cambodia and are being trained to sniff out explosives. They will be tested in the field before being added in greater numbers to the anti-land mine plan.

“Our plan to test, we believe, will take three to four months to complete,” Heng Rattana, director of the Cambodian Mine Action Center, told the Phnom Penh Post. “We just started testing this month.”

A Belgian nonprofit, APOPO, began training the rats in Tanzania 15 years ago, with a six-step process than involves socializing the rats with humans and then teaching them to recognize explosives and alert their human handlers.

The organization’s founder, Bart Weetjens, had pet rats as a child. “Years later, this relationship would yield more than just friendship; it would offer the opportunity to help change a world where landmines pose a threat to life and progress,” says the APOPO website. They have had some success with land mines in Tanzania, Mozambique and a few other countries.

Part of the appeal of using rats instead of mine-detecting dogs is the cost: a dog costs around USD$10,000, while a rat is much cheaper to buy and keep, according to the Bangkok Post. And because rats are more lightweight than dogs, there’s also a lesser chance of them setting off the land mines they’re detecting.

There are still approximately 9,000 separate areas in the country which have not been cleared of land mines, MAG International, another nonprofit which aims to eradicate land mines globally, reports. Land mines and unexploded ordnance have been on Cambodian land since the Vietnam War and have persisted in the country through civil war and the brutal Khmer Rouge dictatorship that followed.

In 1999, Cambodia signed the Ottawa Convention to eradicate land mines. They failed to meet the first 10-year deadline to clear the country, and are now aiming to be land mine-free by 2019.


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Rats remain problem at condemned animal rescue operation

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 17, 2015 in Rat News

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Thousands of rats remain in and around a western Michigan home that housed a now-condemned animal rescue operation, according to a newspaper report.

Authorities and other rescue organizations across the state were trying to find ways to remove the rats overrunning the former Critter Cafe Rescue in Fruitport Township after its owner was told late last month to move out of the rented home.

Local police initially were called to the property after the rat infestation was reported.

“We were pretty shocked,” Muskegon County animal control officer Tiffany Peterson told the Muskegon Chronicle ( ). “Even standing outside, they started coming out of the house, running through the grass, coming at our feet.”

Owner Christine Lea Bishop has been barred from the home. Rabbits, ducks and cats also were cared for at the animal rescue northwest of Grand Rapids. Many of the animals have been sent to other agencies for care.

Bishop has said the rat population started with a cage of pet rats left outside the building in winter.

She tried to feed them and get them birth control, Bishop said, but she had some trouble.

Rats breed about every three weeks, Peterson said.

“Nobody should be going there. It’s horrid,” she said of the house. “There are thousands there and they’re still breeding. It’s being handled and taken care of and should be cleaned up … in the next week.”


Information from: The Muskegon Chronicle,

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Estimated 1000 or more rats fed by tenant take landlord by surprise

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 16, 2015 in Rat News

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, MI – The owner of a condemned house in Fruitport Township said Wednesday he was caught off guard by a rat infestation that occurred at least in part due to his tenant’s activities.

Christine Lea Bishop for years has run an animal rescue operation, Critter Cafe Rescue, at 5818 Airline Rd, a rented home.

The house was condemned earlier this month. After being given a week to remove the larger animals – including rabbits, ducks and cats – on Tuesday, May 27 she was barred from returning to the home. Muskegon County Animal Control estimated more than 1,000 rats live on the property and house.

But the owner, Fruitport’s Dale Carr, said things seemed normal at the house when he visited there in November or December 2014.

“It’s a surprise to me,” he said. “It caught me so flat-footed. I had no idea this was going on.”

Carr’s story doesn’t contradict what Bishop has said so far about when the rats took hold. In an interview Tuesday, she said the rat colonies originated with a cage of pet rats dropped off sometime during the winter. She tried to feed them and get them some birth control but said she had encountered some difficulty and needed help.

Carr said that Bishop had been a tenant of his since 2008. She lived alone with the animals and paid her rent. He knew that Bishop was an animal rescuer. She would keep rabbits and pass them on to adoptive homes, he said.

“She had outbuildings that the cages were in, and that’s where the animals were supposed to stay,” he said. “We didn’t ban animals there. She would fix them and then adopt them out. It was always kept clean.”

On Wednesday, Muskegon County Animal Control was at work trapping the rats. The rats are being caught in live traps and sent to shelters, authorities have said.

Fruitport Township Supervisor Brian Werschem said that once the building and property are rat-free, the building could be demolished or repaired and restored.

“We are going to work with (Carr)to abate the dangerous building,” he said. “Nothing’s going to happen until the rats are all gone.”

Carr isn’t sure what he will do with the building. Bishop had possession of the building until noon Tuesday, and he hasn’t visited there since.

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Rats still a problem at condemned animal rescue operation

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 15, 2015 in Rat News

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) – An official says more than 1,000 rats remain in and around a western Michigan home that housed a now-condemned animal rescue operation.

Fruitport Township Supervisor Brian Werschem gave an update Monday about efforts to deal with the infested Critter Cafe Rescue in Muskegon County’s Fruitport Township. The Muskegon Chronicle reports ( ) nearly 1,500 rats have been removed, but they continue to breed – stymieing efforts to clear them out since last month.

Christine Lea Bishop ran the rescue and has been barred from the home. Rabbits, ducks and cats also were cared for at the animal rescue. Bishop has said the rat population started with a cage of pet rats left outside the building in winter.

The property owner is working with local officials to deal with the rats.

Information from: The Muskegon Chronicle,

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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