Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Big Cheese?

A new title was bestowed on the grand metropolis of New York last week, in part because of its sizeable restaurant industry: City Most Likely to be Infested with Rats (Fall Season). And, no, the news didn’t come from the Big Apple Chamber of Commerce.

The distinction was pinned to the broad chest of America’s cultural and commercial titan by two figures who are acclaimed for their knowledge of rodents, Dale Kaukeinen and Bruce Colvin. The pair studied data from the 2000 U.S. Census to determine what makes a city attractive to rats. Among the factors they identified was the resurgence of cities as residential areas and a resulting gentrification, which in turn have bolstered urban areas’ service and entertainment offerings. “This trend is proving to be an ideal environment for rodents due to the density of people and the abundance of food waste from residents, businesses and local eateries,” according to a statement on Kaukeinen and Colvin’s research, which was sponsored by a “rodenticide” supplier.

Among the other contributors they identified are “wacky weather,” defined as unseasonably warm and wet, and an end to the $12 million to $15 million in subsidies the federal government once passed along annually to communities for the fight against rodents.

Wielding the criteria they’d developed, the duo then ranked cities by their expected hospitability to rats this fall. New York topped the listing, followed by Houston, Boston, Louisville and Philadelphia. Among the surprises on the roster were El Paso, Texas, at No. 9 and San Jose, Calif., at No. 19.

Kaukeinen and Colvin suggested that fall is typically the height of the rodent tourism season for many U.S. cities. “As the weather cools,” the statement explains, “rats and mice move inside in search of food and shelter.” It’s when infestations are most likely to occur and “rodents reach their annual abundance,” it noted.

Our beloved Yankees may have been eliminated from the playoffs this fall. But let Cleveland try to touch us in the rat rankings. No wonder pitcher-attacking bugs seem to be its signature pest.

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