Better rat control in cities starts by changing human behavior, say Jason Munshi-South, associate professor of biological sciences, and Michael H. Parsons, visiting research scholar, in a new piece published in The Conversation.

“ … common approaches to managing rats often fail to address the most important factor contributing to infestations: humans and the prolific quantities of food that they waste. The more research we do on rats in New York City and worldwide, the more we realize that rat behaviors contribute less to infestations than do humans,” the pair wrote in the piece, which was picked up by several media outlets across the country, including in the Washington Post.

Munshi-South and Parson’s work links managing food-waste in cities to controlling the rat population. Rats adapt to human food sources and reproduce accordingly. Thus, the less food there is available, the less a rat will reproduce. 

As they explain in the piece, this food-focused approach involves changing deeply ingrained habits of city dwellers who often don’t think about the food-waste they produce. Munshi-South and Parsons recommend starting with giving people incentives to create effective and socially progressive strategies to create a sanitary environment.  

Click here to read the full piece in The Conversation.