“The Rats Will Win”

Ernie Schicchi thinks like a rat.

And it’s a valuable way of thinking right now, when New York City is so overrun with rodents that Mayor Adams wants to appoint a “rat tsar” to clean up the place.

Having spent 27 years in pest control — and focusing on rats for the past 15 years — Schicchi understands the way rodents think. The bad news for humans, the 50-year-old from Freehold, NJ, told The Post, is that “rats are very smart, very imaginative, and learn very quickly.”

Schicchi, co-owner of Alternative Pest Control in Brooklyn, blames the pandemic for why they’re rampaging in NYC more than ever.

Stephen Yang

“When COVID hit and restaurants closed, trash stopped being laid out and rats lost food sources,” he said. “So they subsisted on garbage in neighborhoods. Now that restaurants have reopened, they [eat] from both.”

Here are Schicchi’s five insights into the rat’s ways.

Rats go where humans don’t go

Rats love small spaces, Schicchi said.
Rats love small spaces, Schicchi said.
Christopher Sadowski

While rats are similar to humans in physique, with matching internal organs and a skeleton, they lack one of our main fears.

“Rats don’t get claustrophobic,” says Schicchi. “They enter very small spaces and are comfortable.”

They also thrive in places we avoid.

They are also canal dwellers and can squeeze through remarkably small holes.
They are also canal dwellers and can squeeze through remarkably small holes.
Stephen Yang

“They are underground dwellers and live in sewers; They love anything linear. When you drive up a street in NYC you see that everything is linear with sewer pipes, cable wires and electrical wiring. They end where the lines and pipes are abandoned, usually in front of houses. They like to dig and often emerge through tree hollows,” he added.

The upside is that you can see the rats’ dens through holes in the dirt. “I’m covering these holes with what’s called a geomesh. They are metal fibers that are laid out like a carpet and covered with dirt or grass. It prevents rats from getting in and out of their burrows.”

Rats follow the food

Open trash cans are like an open invitation for rats.
Open trash cans are like an open invitation for rats.
Getty Images

“The key to any rat’s life is building a consistent food source,” Schicchi said. “They don’t eat.”

So when these rodents find a good place to eat, they stay there. Worse, they continue to populate.

The omission of free bread might seem benevolent, but it's also a huge draw for rats.
The omission of free bread might seem benevolent, but it’s also a huge draw for rats.
Stephen Yang

“If you have a family of rats and the pups become teenagers, they will be kicked out by the dominant male. The dominant male will continue to father litters — female rats typically give birth to about five babies every 21 days — and keep the offspring alive as long as there is enough food,” Schicchi said. “If not, the mother or father will bite the babies and kill the litter to avoid starvation. They have no problem being near their dead offspring – or eating them if they have to.”

As much as rats love food, they hate bleach. Schicchi’s advice: “Spray the inside and outside of your garbage bag with bleach. The smell tells them it’s poisonous. They cannot belch and must watch what they eat. Rats will not chew and walk through bags covered in bleach to find fresh food sources.”

Rats learn quickly and communicate well

The king of NYC rodents: pizza rat.
The king of NYC rodents: pizza rat.

Rats take in information through smell. “When rats urinate, they communicate,” says Schicchi. “Smells tell you who is sick, who is old, who is in heat. It is created via pheromones. That’s why one day you get rid of rats and the next day a new group moves in. They smell the pheromones of the previous rats, see no activity, and assume the space is available.”

One way Schicchi shuts down communication channels is by spraying Bac-A-Zap, a substance that eliminates strong odors.

Yes, Schicchi is willing to lay his head on a New York City sidewalk to find a rat.
Yes, Schicchi is willing to lay his head on a New York City sidewalk to find a rat.
Stephen Yang

More difficult to control is how rats learn to survive. “Set up a bait station, load it with poison, and rats that need food can go there. Dominant rats will watch you. You will take note of what is happening to the other rats. If rats eat from the bait station and get sick or die, the dominant rats avoid it.”

One workaround, Schicchi added, is to switch bait: “I switch weekly from oil-based to flour-based to grain-based. And to attract the smarter rats, I add their droppings.”

Rats can chew through almost anything

Rats can penetrate almost any barrier -- even concrete -- but not chicken wire, which Schicchi uses as part of his prevention methods.
Rats can penetrate almost any barrier — even concrete — but not chicken wire, which Schicchi uses as part of his prevention methods.
Stephen Yang

“Your teeth lie between steel and iron,” says Schicchi. “They can chew through concrete.”

The good news is that they probably won’t chew through human skin: “In a rat’s mind, almost everything is predatory; They are careful with us and will not attack.”

Still, they can penetrate most barriers. A Brooklyn brownstone owner who employed Schicchi said she had rats “that lived between our front steps, the floor of our garden level, and the basement. Ernie saw the traces of fat where they were going. He went into the basement ceiling and sealed the manholes with steel mesh. Finally he put down pieces of plastic. If disturbed, it meant the rats got around the web somehow. They weren’t.”

There is a good reason why rats don’t handle chicken wire: “If rats try to chew through it, it cuts their mouths open. They also can’t chew through copper wire mesh and diamond mesh steel. Aluminum and alloy, they can chew through both. Regular old chicken wire? Forget it. You go right through chicken wire.”

NYC is fighting a losing battle

Getting rats out of New York City could be a losing battle, Schicchi warns.
Getting rats out of New York City could be a losing battle, Schicchi warns.
Christopher Sadowski

“New York City is not going to win,” Schicchi said of the war being waged against the rodents. “There has to be too much happening everywhere at once. The rats will win.”

https://nypost.com/2022/12/09/ernie-schicchi-warns-nycs-new-rat-czar-the-rats-are-going-to-win/ “The Rats Will Win”

JACLYN DIAZ

USTimeToday is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@ustimetoday.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button