New York rats: Alcohol can solve problem, say officials

Rat in tunnelImage source, Getty Images

A machine, a trap door and a pool full of liquid alcohol.

That's the latest weapon in the war against rats, say officials in New York.

The rats are attracted with bait by a machine and sent through a trap door straight into a pool of alcohol-based liquid.

It's one of the most rat-infested cities in the US, with rodents moving around through rubbish and train tracks and causing chaos for many residents.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The machine attracts rats with bait

How does it work?

In effect, it's a bucket which lures rats and then sends them to their death.

They're knocked out by the liquid and "drown eventually", according to Anthony Giaquinto, the president of Rat Trap, who import the device.

The rodent dies in the tank - which can hold up to 80 rat carcasses.

During a demonstration of the machine sanitation workers opened the container, showing several dead rats floating in a green liquid.

In a month long trial in Brooklyn a total of 107 rodents were lured and killed.

Figure caption,
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New York's rat problem

In July 2017 the city announced a $32 million (£26 million) program to cull thousands of rodents by installing rat-resistant bins.

And they also trialled a liquid bait that could make rats infertile.

But these past methods haven't worked.

Media caption,
The rat caused panic, as Katy Hastings reports

Reported rat sightings have soared by almost 38% to 17,353 last year, according to OpenTheBooks - a non-profit watchdog group.

This new solution has been described as "humane and environmentally friendly" by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

He added it would be rolled out in some of Brooklyn's most rat-infected districts.

But some - such as animal rights group Peta - say this will be "cruel and frightening".

"New York's alcohol traps will kill rats on the spot, but they'll do nothing to curb overall rodent populations, which rebound when animals remain fertile," says Elisa Allen, Peta's director.

"So drowning - like poisoning - will be ineffective in the long run."

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