Corrigan is a leading expert on urban rats. He has studied the animals since and works as a consultant for cities and companies around the world with rat problems.
I meet him on his turf on a warm April day at a park in lower Manhattan, one of the rat capitals of the world. Corrigan appears in a hard hat and neon orange vest, holding a clipboard.
These accoutrements of authority will allow us to tromp through flower beds and subway tunnels without being challenged. He talks like New Yorkers in the movies. New Yorkers with uptown and downtown addresses dump enough trash on the streets for rats to be able to live out their lives less than feet from where they were born.
People with Midtown addresses—along with commuters and visitors to restaurants, theaters, and Times Square—provide ample edible trash for rat populations there as well. New Yorkers like to titillate one another with stories about sightings of rats as big as dogs. But the biggest rat Corrigan has ever heard of was a one-pound, ounce creature that hailed from Iraq. He doubts that he will ever have to pay up. Brown rats are burrowing animals that are widest at the skull, so they can slip into any space wider than that including the pipe leading to a toilet bowl.
He explains that most rat burrows have three entrances, a main entrance and two bolt-holes for quick escapes.
Brown rats live in families. They have two to 14 pups at a time, keep their nests which they often build in the garden beds of public parks relatively clean, and patrol small territories. When the pups reach puberty, as early as 10 weeks of age, they move out and look for mates. Take one year in a typical urban rat colony—how fast might it grow? Rats usually reach sexual maturity by 12 weeks, and litters can vary from two to 14 pups. Reproductive rates are highly dependent on environment. The more shelter, food, and trash, the higher the rat count.
Corrigan and I head out on our rat safari. In a flower bed beside a courthouse he paces carefully, feeling the soil beneath his boots.
Sensing a hollow space, he jumps up and down heavily a few times. Moments later a rat pops out of a nearby hole and makes a run for it—a dusty brown streak of small-mammal panic. I feel a little bad.
Most New Yorkers, however, want all the rats in their city dead. Many cities try to control rats with poison. The rats die slowly from internal bleeding. Corrigan hates to inflict such a death, but he fears outbreaks of disease. So he continues to lend his expertise to clients. We proceed to Tribeca Park, where according to Corrigan the rats have learned to hunt and kill pigeons. But tonight the park is quiet.
City workers might have recently injected burrows with dry ice, or frozen carbon dioxide, Corrigan says—a more humane approach to killing rats. As carbon dioxide gas wafts off the ice and seeps through the burrows, rats fall asleep, then never wake up. Few who kill rats for a living hope for more than local or temporary success.
After rats are poisoned in an area, Corrigan says, the survivors simply breed until the burrows are full again, and the new generations still find huge mounds of trash bags set out on the sidewalks of New York every night. The oil in their belly fur stains the concrete.
Brown rats likely originated on the Asian steppes, where they first learned they could eat well by hanging out with humans. They spread with trade along the Silk Road, and were established in parts of Europe by about Brown rats along the East Coast are descended mostly from European ancestors, but West Coast rats are a mix of European and Asian genetics.
Roof rats— Rattus rattus, also known as black rats—are a global species as well. Scammers often trick people into passing over control of their computer. Lloyds said there is also another way that fraudsters trip themselves up which the Rat looks out for — but it cannot give further details as criminals would then change their behaviour. The suspect activity was picked up by the Rat — and the account was blocked while the elderly man was still on the phone to the scammer. No funds were lost. Lloyds spoke to the customer and provided him with additional information on scams and how to spot them.
While banks have recently introduced stronger protections for victims, even in cases where customers are refunded, money obtained fraudulently may be used to facilitate crimes such as people trafficking and exploitation. Lloyds also launched a mule-hunting team at the start of to detect and stop money mules and it said it is particularly focused on shutting down the movement of money from scams.
Here are some tips from Lloyds for spotting a financial scam:. Also, watch out for spoof text messages which may look similar to genuine messages you receive from your bank. Nor will it tell you to move your money for security reasons. Contact your bank immediately if you receive any requests of this nature.
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