pest control auckland rats

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Pest Control  Auckland Rats


Bobby Corrigan Discusses the Future of Remote Monitoring with ‘Talking Pest Management’

In a two-part video interview, Corrigan discusses how using remote sensors in combination with skillful pest professionals is reshaping rodent management.

June 18, 2021

BORCHEN, Germany In two wide-ranging interviews undertaken as part of the Talking Pest Management series, Dr. Bobby Corrigan of RMC Pest Management Consulting, discussed how clients are increasingly requesting preventative pest management with TPM host, Daniel Schröer. Monitoring activities, not only of the pest but also the technician, are fundamental building blocks of prevention and also integrated pest management (IPM).

Corrigan said,   Remote sensors can hold us accountable. They provide monitoring with data, with assurance and with 24/7 surveillance. There’s no better way to monitor than with correctly installed remote sensors in combination with skillfull pest professionals  a total no brainer.

And from these sensors comes data. Corrigan points out that the new, young generation is data driven   charts and graphs on your computer dashboard. Dashboards are the thing everyone now calls for   they provide a means of guiding and assessing progress. Data driven pest control service is the future.

As for the domestic market, are home owners going to buy remote monitors off Amazon and then only call in an ‘Uber type pest service’ when deemed necessary?

“Uber totally shocked the taxi world and the same could happen in pest control. Whoever undertakes this Uber pest control will be big. They will be ahead of the rest in prevention, talents, training, insight, inspections, being observational biologists and the like. They will carve out a niche. Smart digital technology enables this,” Corrigan said.

Corrigan explains how surprised he has been that remote monitoring has been relatively so slow to be adopted. Had COVID not interfered, he predicted that last year 70% of his consulting hours would have been spent on remote monitoring and its application. I had clients ranging from city governments through to giant corporations keen to switch. But COVID squashed all this  it has slowed the uptake.

However, as Corrigan explains, there is a silver lining, as everyone is now virus conscious. The public is more aware of the relationship between micro-organisms and pests. Schröer sums this up, stating the aim must be: “An increase in sensitivity and a decrease in tolerance to pests.

Learn more about Pest Management at :

Pest control auckland rats

Kiwi man Owen Stobart is the country's go-to when it comes to exterminating rodents.

"The more I deal with rats, the more I respect them. Unfortunately, my job is to take them out," Mr Stobart says.

 Mr Stobart attended Rodent Academy in the US, which is run by pest control legend Dr Bobby Corrigan, the only person with a PhD in urban rat control.

"Rat Academy is a course which essentially focuses purely on urban rat control … and he [Dr Bobby Corrigan] shows you lots of different scenarios and gives you the correct solution, according to his research and studies.

"Bobby Corrigan told us to ignore rat poo and look for the sebum trails because the sebum trails tell you where the rats are going."

Sebum is the mark of oil from the sebaceous glands from the rat's fur and are like "rat traffic lights".

"It shows you an area the rats trust, and they frequent on a regular basis."

Mr Stobart says the rat population is linked to the human population which suggests that rats will be more of a problem in the future.

"The more people we have, the higher the number of rats."

A highlight of the job has been exterminating 10,000 rats in Auckland.

"It was considered to be one of the worst rat jobs in the world. Luckily that's sorted now."

credit Tim Wilson at Seven Sharp- TVNZ

Rat pest control calls surge in Auckland

Rats' bizarre behaviour due to lack of food

"ACES pest control is observing that there are three factors changing rodents behaviour in in Auckland at the moment. The first as mentioned in the article is the lockdown and the lack of food from restaurants etc. The second is the lack of water, that is the drought. Rodents are moving to find water as their normal source dries up. This means they are coming into peoples homes or businesses. And lastly we have come off a long summer which has resulted in high numbers. The combination of the three factors means pest controllers are busy with customers calling in with rodent issues in Auckland. "

In the US humans aren't the only ones hankering for the days they could dine out at their cities' restaurants: Some rats that miss feasting on the scraps are becoming increasingly brazen to find new food sources, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Friday (New Zealand time).

Amid stay-home restrictions set across the US to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus, many restaurants and cafés are closed or limited to takeout and delivery, and with the reduced sales, the restaurants' trash bins are no longer overflowing with scrumptious leftovers hoards of rodents subsisted on.

Finding slimmer pickings than they used to, cities' critters are more aggressive, prompting the CDC to issue guidance on how to deter them.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been increased reports of rat cannibalism and infanticide in New York, as well as more rat complaints in residential areas, including in Chicago, as humans produce more food waste at home.

Roving rat armies, including one caught on camera scavenging New Orleans' empty streets, are concerning to the CDC, which says rodents can carry disease.

The CDC advises home and business owners to cover garbage cans, put bird and pet food out of reach and seal small holes rodents could access in buildings. If people follow established cleaning guidelines, they can avoid exposure to rodent-borne diseases, according to the agency.

"Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food," the CDC said.

"Environmental health and rodent control programmes may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behaviour."

In cities trying to combat rodent issues, like the District of Columbia, pest control workers are classified as essential. The District has had more than 800 calls regarding rodents in the past month, according to city 311 data.

Rats can transmit food-borne illnesses such as salmonella, and their urine can also worsen allergies and asthma, especially in children, Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist at the National Pest Management Association, previously told The Post.

Rats pose an additional threat to those working from home: devouring cars. Rats gnawing at car engines and tires has caused fires, cost car owners fortunes and goaded officials to seek DIY solutions.

Urban rodentologist Bobby Corrigan foresaw increased reports of aggressive rodents when the pandemic began. He said with restaurants closing, rats would need to adapt to find new food sources. In late March, he put out a call to other pest experts like him to share what they find surveying their area.

Corrigan told The Washington Post that a pest expert sent him a photo after a gruesome rat battle in Queens, New York: A nest of rats had left to scrounge for food at their usual city block of restaurants but turned on each other when they couldn't find enough scraps, Corrigan believes.

A pile of rat limbs on the sidewalk was all that remained.

"Many of these rats in our cities depend on their nightly food, which is the restaurants and hotels and bars and doughnut shops and everything that we consume on the go," said Corrigan.

Corrigan said rats are "opportunistic foragers," so as many rats' reliable sources of food have vanished, the rodents will seek new menu options.

To keep rats from dining at people's home, he advises following CDC guidance, securing food properly so rats can't get to it, adding that he recommends avoiding inhumane traps or poison.

"Deny them the opportunity, and you'll never even know they've visited your property," he said.

Edited from Meryl Kornfield

pest control auckland rats VLOG 1st May 2020

ACES pest control Director Owen Stobart is picking that Auckland will see a lot of rats this year 2020 due to two main factors

Besides the fact we have come off another long summer, which means there  are high numbers like 2019, two other factors are making this year even worse than prior.

(i) the Lockdown. Has meant that rats in general have had a month left to their own devices.4-5 weeks is about one breeding cycle. So given they produce around 6 pups a litter,  
that's potentially up to 5 times more rats than 2019! "Rat-nami" all over again!

(ii) the drought. Water is short not for humans but rodents are feeling it too. When the rats around a dam or stream find its dry as a bone,  where do they go? Yup you guessed it,  your place!

And we are seeing high activity for rodents with our stations being cleaned out completely 

All that is needed is some cold snaps in May and you guessed it,  you could be having some uninvited guests, of the fury type coming to your place!

boom time for rats in lockdown in Auckland

Boom time for Auckland's rats as lockdown gives them free rein 

ACES pest control  in Auckland has noticed that like last year there are high numbers of rodents. This is because we have come off another long hot summer. Endless days of blue skies and sunshine mean excellent beach weather they are also good for rodents making more rodents. Also there is a water shortage in Auckland and ACES pest control has noticed
this is changing the behaviour of the many rodents in and around Auckland. Where a rat colony might have been happy away from humans next to dam or creek as these water soruces have dried up then they have sought 
water souces where people are. Customers are saying that the rats moved into our house when their water supply dried up. Also when we are checking stations we are noticing they have been clean out completely. A sign of high rodent numbers as New Zealand heads into winter. 

With Auckland pest controllers in lockdown

And a population surge last year, the vermin are free to wreak havoc in populated areas, and on native wildlife with only a few hundred thousand or so to go.

It’s the first time my whānau [family] have got to see me doing pest control. I’ve been teaching the whānau that we do this to protect the birds, says Malcolm, director of Māori-oriented biosecurity business Puna Consultants.

For Māori, many of these threatened birds are classed as taonga; a natural treasure with special significance to the culture. These taonga species are part of our whakapapa [genealogical ties]. They helped protect our tūpuna [ancestors] so we have a duty to help them.

As the autumn leaves fall and crackle, Malcolm would usually be out assisting iwi [tribes] around the country with urgent pest control measures, with a particular focus on exterminating rats as the winter months loom.

Now, like every other New Zealander, Malcolm is stuck at home in the third week of level-four lockdown. Pest control has been deemed a non-essential service by the government; a decision experts say is putting New Zealand’s most vulnerable wildlife at risk, as the number of rats, mice and stoats surges.

The timing couldn’t be better for New Zealand’s vermin. They’re coming off 2019’s mega mast year, which means bountiful supplies of seed allowed their populations to flourish. Now, with vital pest control efforts halted, there are growing public health concerns as vermin colonise urban areas unchallenged.

It also makes the government’s goal to wipe out all pests by 2050 increasingly elusive. The ambitious project aims to restore the country to its pre-human state, a time before introduced pests were able to wreak havoc on its natural biodiversity.

Even with the Department of Conservation’s extensive trapping, baiting, and aerial poison drops, 68,000 native birds fall victim to invasive predators every day. As most of these species are endemic to New Zealand, a population wipe-out would mean complete extinction.

Rats are the most challenging of all of these predators to manage, with their penchant for swimming, year-round breeding and huge litters. Autumn cooling into winter also means rats are getting cold  and heading indoors.

Food’s running short which means juvenile pests are spreading out to find a new source of food, says Kevin Hackett, chief conservationist at conservation organisation Forest & Bird.

For many hungry vermin their new source of food will come from urban areas and homes, where food is more easily accessible. With restaurants, cafes and takeaways no longer producing the goods, that leaves famished rats one option for dinner  homes.

It’s pretty amazing how many rats are showing up near me and how damn big they are, says Auckland resident Mikaela Street. My cat Maurice is arriving at the doorstep with a long-tailed gift most mornings these days

The majority of this urban trapping is usually managed by volunteer community groups, but with lockdown restrictions in place, Kiwis have been forced to turn their own hands to keeping rats at bay. In fact, the lockdown has given hunters who are banned from heading into the bush for the roar the deer mating season a fresh purpose.

Renamed the squeak, a 28,000-strong online community has blossomed in which hunter is pitted against hunter in a battle to bring in the most impressive rat  a ghoulish project that nonetheless is playing a serious role in resuscitating stalled conservation efforts.

It’s all pretty funny actually, says competition administrator Brett Collins. People that would never have thought about catching mice or rats are now making a real concerted effort to get into their backyards and sheds to try and catch these mice and rats, which is going to be doing a lot for our native wildlife.

The focus on private trapping during lockdown  and the attempt to make it fun  is proving essential to manage unchecked pest populations, says Rachel Fewster from the University of Auckland.

Data collected by a University of Auckland project, CatchIT, from 3,000 community groups around the country, indicates a huge fall in the number of rats caught during a traditionally fruitful time of year. In the past week, CatchIT registered just a third of the captures they saw over the same period in the previous two years.

Kane Kvasnicka from Restore Hibiscus and Bays, an organisation representing 30 community groups and 155km of coastline in the north of Auckland, worries that the month-long trapping hiatus may prove disastrous for their years of hard work eradicating pests.

We have people and groups that have been out there maintaining trap lines for more than 10 years, so naturally we’re worried sick about the birds and reptiles we’re trying to save, says Kvasnicka. Our main effort is to try and bring about the government’s Predator Free 2050 goals, so the kind of impact this might have, especially if the Alert Four period is extended, is pretty concerning.

Hackwell from Forest & Bird notes this pause in predatory control will be most strongly felt among the high-risk endangered species. Nesting seabirds such as the storm petrel, northern royal albatross, and the kakī are among the most vulnerable.

A lot of projects that have been working very hard to save species and grow numbers could be under real threat at this time of year, Hackwell says.

Species such as titi or blue penguins are yet to fledge their young, so without the trapping that goes on, they’re very susceptible to being eaten by the likes of ferrets and stoats.

The Department of Conservation has made arrangements for essential care if wildlife emergencies occur in conservation areas, but they note that the threshold is high and public safety must come first. Otherwise, the majority of their pest-eradication plans are on hold indefinitely.

For now, Kiwis must turn to their own yards to do their bit in the fight against the onslaught of rats. The dramatic shutdown is no doubt saving lives, but there are fears some precious wildlife may never recover.

We’ve already seen localised extinctions of taonga birds like the kakāriki and kākā as a result of doing nothing to stop invasive species, says Malcolm.

The lockdown is going to be good for our country in the long run, but at what cost?

edited from

by Leni Maiai

NZ’s top rodent-killer learns from pest control legend at New York’s Rat Academy

In 2016 I attended the NPMA ( USA) in Seattle. At this meeting attended " RAT ACADAMY".  It was standing room only, as the 1000+ conference room was packed out. Dr Corrigans course was extremely useful as he is the go to man in the USA when no one else can solve the rodent issue. 

Below is an article I did with Tim Wilson a reporter for TVNZ in the hope I could pass on some of the tips that Bobby taught me.

I hope you find this information helpful

kind regards


Kiwi man Owen Stobart is the country's go-to when it comes to exterminating rodents.

"The more I deal with rats, the more I respect them. Unfortunately, my job is to take them out," Mr Stobart says.

Mr Stobart attended Rat Academy in the US, which is run by pest control legend Dr Bobby Corrigan, the only person with a PhD in urban rat control.

"Rat Academy is a course which essentially focuses purely on urban rat control … and he [Dr Corrigan] shows you lots of different scenarios and gives you the correct solution, according to his research and studies.

"Bobby  told us to ignore rat poo and look for the sebum trails because the sebum trails tell you where the rats are going."

Sebum is the mark of oil from the sebaceous glands from the rat's fur and are like "rat traffic lights".

"It shows you an area the rats trust, and they frequent on a regular basis."

Mr Stobart says the rat population is linked to the human population which suggests that rats will be more of a problem in the future.

"The more people we have, the higher the number of rats."

A highlight of the job has been exterminating 10,000 rats in Auckland.

"It was considered to be one of the worst rat jobs in the world. Luckily that's sorted now."

credit to TVNZ for article on rat extermination Auckland 

rat pest control auckland

“Ratpocalypse” pest control issues with rats

rat pest control east coast bays auckland

"ACES pest control attended Dr Corrigans " Rat Acadamy" course in 2016 NPMA  Seattle meeting. It was standing room only! Bobby is the "go to guy" when all the other Pest Control Companies have tried and failed.  Bobby has a  scientific approach and has a Doctorate in Science. We hope you enjoy this article featuring Bobby as much as we enjoyed his course."

Milder winters allow rats to have more litters, and their population explosion could help spread diseases such as E. coli and bubonic plague.

Is America on the verge of a ratpocalypse?

Experts and officials are documenting growing numbers of rats across the United States, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

However, rats are notoriously difficult to study.

The exact number of rat populations is unclear. In New York, for example, estimates range from 250,000 on the low end up to tens of millions.

The only thing certain is the numbers are growing.

In July, New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio, pledged $32 million to combat the rodents. The city wants more rat corpses, he announced.

New York may be the most prominent city in the United States to tackle its highly visible rat problem, but it certainly isn’t the only one.

Other major metropolitan areas, including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, and Washington have all reported increased sightings.

Milder winters mean more rats

Bobby Corrigan, who holds a doctorate in rodentology, and is one of the nation’s leading experts on rats, told Healthline that if you spoke to health departments in 25 different cities, they’d all tell you we have more rats now than ever before.

Even though that’s not empirical, that’s a pretty darn good indication, he said.

Corrigan attributes growing rat populations in the United States and around the world to milder winters and growing human populations.

Rats tend to reproduce less during the winter as cold weather makes it harder for the rodents to survive.

But, as winters have become milder due in part to climate change over the past decade, rats have been able to produce extra litters.

More rats mean more disease

The warmer weather also cascades down onto the various other parasites and bugs that depend on rats for survival.

Disease-carrying ticks, mites, lice, and fleas are all more likely to survive and reproduce during mild winters.

A similar problem manifested earlier this year when reports of increased tick-borne illnesses were largely attributed to booming populations of mice  the critters that spread ticks throughout forested areas.

Simply put, says Corrigan, Winter doesn’t kill as much anymore because we don’t have hard winters. The risks of booming rat populations are manifold.

The various ectoparasites that feed on rats are capable of spreading many different diseases, including rat bite fever and bubonic plague. While the plague is uncommon in the United States today, it still appears periodically, including this year in New Mexico.

However, rats don’t even need to carry ectoparasites to spread disease.

In fact, they are more than capable of spreading zoonotic diseases through contact with their urine and feces.

A study from Columbia University in 2014 found that rats in New York carried everything from E. coli and salmonella to Seoul hantavirus and C. difficile.

They don’t carry rabies. That’s the good news, says Corrigan.

Solutions are difficult

The federal government isn’t actually involved in controlling rat populations as it is with many other public health problems.

Between 1969 and 1982, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doled out grants to different cities under its Urban Rat Control program, but that ended under former President Ronald Reagan.

A CDC spokesperson confirmed to Healthline that it no longer has any involvement with rat control.

Since then, cities, businesses, and citizens have had to fend for themselves.

You’re only as good as your worst neighbor down the street or outside the door who doesn’t do their trash right, said Corrigan.

People are the problem

This leads to the second major part of the rat boom: humans.

Rats have been called the mirror species of humans. When we thrive, they thrive. They share and inhabit the same cities that we do.

More people, more trash, more trash, more pests, said Corrigan.

For better or worse then, the solution to the rat problem begins with the human problem of waste management.

That’s a mammal that needs the same thing you and I need. It needs food every single day. It needs water every day, explained Corrigan.

If you have 16 rats, just one family of rats, they need a pound of food every night. That’s seven pounds of food every week going into those rats’ bellies, he noted.

The implication is clear: Rats are getting all the food they need from humans.

And while calls to pest control services are up across the country, and cities are trying new methods for killing rats  like using dry ice to suffocate them in their nests  in New York, Corrigan’s approach is far more benign.

The only solution, according to Corrigan, is an approach that includes individual and government cooperation between everyone from city task forces, to grocery store and restaurant owners, to homeowners.

If you want to keep rats out of your home and help control populations, it comes down to two things, he said. Ensure that all doors, including garage doors, leading into and out of your home are tightly closed.

You should not be able to roll a number two pencil under a door, Corrigan said. The second is securing garbage appropriately.  Everybody thinks anybody can take out the garbage, so sometimes they’ll give it to the children to take out the garbage, says Corrigan. Taking out the garbage and storing the garbage correctly is something that needs attention.

Instead of hiring an exterminator or putting out poison bait, why don’t you just simply get a better garbage can? he said.

"When ACES spoke to Bobby between lectures, he mentioned that high numbers of rats must always go hand in hand with a large food source. And he pointed out that the Vancouver rat study is showing   that the pest control of rats while  effective, creates a vacant territory, which other rats eventually move into with time. Meaning the net result is zero. He concluded in his course that the long term solution for urban rats is how humans manage the environment around them."

Adapted from an article  by Gigen Mammoser

Jack- the awesome pest controller!!!!!

rat fumigation ponsonby auckland

ACES pest control once had the help of a customers dog, a terrier finding rats. Jenny told ACES her dog knows were the rats are. We did our inspection and an hour later, YES you guessed it
Jennys dog was 100% correct! Some dogs are awesome pest controllers!

"Jack, the rat terrier, gets ready for work. His hearing is so acute he can hear the sound of a rat's heart beating.

Yoram Adler can't imagine a better work colleague.

Jack is always up, always ready to take on a tough job, and always ready to kill.

"My daughter didn't want me to tell you this, but he's killed 36 rats and 11 mice. And two squirrels, by mistake," said Adler.

At a mere 10 kilograms, the six-year-old rat terrier doesn't look lethal. On the contrary, he exudes the happy agreeability of a puppy.

As for the killing part, he can't help it.

Seeking and destroying rodents is exactly what Jack was bred to do. It's also what makes him the perfect partner for Adler, an exterminator

Targets rats

"I love my canine partner. And I love the fact that he loves his work," said Adler, who believes Jack is the only working dog exterminator in B.C.'s Lower Mainland.

Jack has been on the job for five years, targeting suspected rats with his keen sense of smell, strong prey drive, and hypersonic-like speed.

Small size, big job

Jack can smell mice, rats, squirrels and even bed bugs. His small size allows him to get into places humans cannot.

"Generally in the wintertime there's a lot more rodent calls than in the summer," said Adler. "He is able to inspect garages, basements and crawl spaces, and stick his nose under stuff and smell.

When he finds his prey, he'll paw or bark to alert Adler.

"Usually, he barks to tell me where they are. He'll also show me their routes  you know, where they are running."

Adler said Jack will catch and kill rats and mice if he can. But when it comes to squirrels, Adler deploys his dog differently.

Jack the chaser

"We call it squirrel evictions," he said. "We'll go up in an attic and I'll give him a go word, which is 'Chippy.' I ask him, 'where's Chippy?' And he'll make a lot of noise growling and barking.

"The squirrels hear that and run out. He's not the killer in that situation. He chases them out and then we block the entrance point with a one-way door — in case there are other squirrels still inside — or with mesh."

To keep his skills sharp, Adler sometimes brings Jack to a downtown Sky Train station where training doubles as community service.

"He killed three rats there one night. I don't want to tell you which station, though. People will think it's overrun with rats."

'He just had to be taught'

Jack has also become an expert in bed bug detection, something rat terriers don't normally do.

Adler recognized how valuable the skill would be and set about finding someone locally who could train him. In the end, he hired a retired customs dog trainer, who, over a six-month period, schooled Jack in the canine craft of finding bedbugs.

"The customs trainer trained him the same way as when they teach the customs dogs to find drugs and money," said Adler.

"I knew he could do it, he just had to be taught."

President's pooch

As a breed, rat terriers grew in prominence at the turn of the last century when  as the story goes President Teddy Roosevelt used them to rid the White House of a terrible rat infestation.

Adler calls Roosevelt "one of my history heroes," and credits the story for making him aware of the breed. When his daughter started begging for a puppy, he thought, 'why not get one that could help on the job?'

Working dogs don't always make good family pets but Jack has proven an easy fit in both worlds.

"He cuddles up on the couch and watches the Canucks' games with me," Adler said.

"He sleeps on our bed and tries to lick our faces after he's done his work, which my wife doesn't necessarily like," said Adler.

Job well done

With another site cleared, Jack jumps into Adler's trunk. The two will head home for some play time, treats and rest before the next call.

Adler has never advertised Jack's services because there's never been a shortage of word-of-mouth referrals. But he is considering putting the dog's photo on a new work truck, which is set to hit the road.

"People like the dog, they gravitate towards the dog because he's very friendly," Adler said.

"But mostly they like that there's a canine expert inspecting their house."

Rats and housing issues

mouse extermination takpauna auckland

ACES pest control is often asked to work with either the tenant or the landlord on the issue of rodent control. ACES provides online payment meaning the landlord doesnt have to be present to make payment at the appointment date. 

Tenant with rats in walls can't afford to move

A woman living in a Wellington flat with rats in the walls says the Prime Minister's view that soaring rental prices are a sign of "success" is stupid and ridiculous.

A social housing provider said the shortage in the capital was the worst it had been.

Yet Prime Minister Bill English remains steadfast that there is no housing crisis.

Rental prices shot up 7 percent last year in Wellington to a median of $480 a week. At the same time, the number of properties available for rent plunged.

Wellington's prices are just shy of Auckland's.

When asked if he was concerned that a queue of prospective renters lined up outside a flat in Wellington at the weekend, Mr English said the heated Wellington rental market was a "problem of success".

The rental squeeze was a concern for people looking for accommodation in the capital, but he believed the Wellington City Council understood the problem, he said.

"I hope they [the council] are working hard to enable the development that's needed," he said.

"Wellington hasn't experienced pressure on its housing market for quite a long time. And as long as they respond quickly, they'll be able to deal with it."

Mr English maintained housing was not as big an issue as some said.

"No, I don't think there's a housing crisis".

A renter from the suburb of Brooklyn said she, her partner and their newborn baby live in a house with rats in the walls.

She said it was covered in black mould when they moved in.

They could not afford something better so were reluctantly renewing their lease.

RatsA Brooklyn renter says she is living with rodents because she can't afford to move. Photo: 123RF
For that reason she asked RNZ not to use her name.

When asked what she made of Mr English's comment, she said, "Success for whom?"

"We went to a whole bunch of open homes and you just see so many people that are in similar situations to us, or have more kids, it's just impossible.

"Is the city, are the councillors, successful because a whole bunch of people in their city can't find a place to live? It's just stupid."

Labour's housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said Mr English's comment showed he was out of touch.

"This is a housing market that is beginning to look like Auckland and some of the other markets around the country - it's enriching landlords, speculators and those who own their own homes, but it's impoverishing everyone else, including the half of the population that are renters.

"This is not good news," Mr Twyford said.

At a public meeting on renting in Wellington last night, social housing provider Dwell chief executive Alison Cadman said there was a housing need in Wellington when she started the job 13 years ago.

"I hoped at that time I'd stand here 13 years later, today, and say things are better - but they're just a whole lot worse," she told the meeting, which was organised by the Labour Party.

"On top of being a whole lot worse, I just think the stories are a lot sadder and a lot more complex as well."

Ms Cadman said since 2001 the Wellington region had lost more than 1200 social houses. The region was going backwards "big-time", she said.

by Benedict Collins

Rat exterminator north shore

First, the myths. There are no “super rats”. Apart from a specific subtropical breed, they do not get much bigger than 20 inches long, including the tail. They are not blind, nor are they afraid of cats. They do not carry rabies. They do not, as was reported in 1969 regarding an island in Indonesia, fall from the sky. Their communities are not led by elusive, giant “king rats”. Rat skeletons cannot liquefy and reconstitute at will. (For some otherwise rational people, this is a genuine concern.) They are not indestructible, and there are not as many of them as we think. The one-rat-per-human in New York City estimate is pure fiction. Consider this the good news.
In most other respects, “the rat problem”, as it has come to be known, is a perfect nightmare. Wherever humans go, rats follow, forming shadow cities under our metropolises and hollows beneath our farmlands. They thrive in our squalor, making homes of our sewers, abandoned alleys, and neglected parks. They poison food, bite babies, undermine buildings, spread disease, decimate crop yields, and very occasionally eat people alive. A male and female left to their own devices for one year – the average lifespan of a city rat – can beget 15,000 descendants.
There may be no “king rat”, but there are “rat kings”, groups of up to 30 rats whose tails have knotted together to form one giant, swirling mass. Rats may be unable to liquefy their bones to slide under doors, but they don’t need to: their skeletons are so flexible that they can squeeze their way through any hole or crack wider than half an inch. They are cannibals, and they sometimes laugh (sort of) – especially when tickled. They can appear en masse, as if from nowhere, moving as fast as seven feet per second. They do not carry rabies, but a 2014 study from Columbia University found that the average New York City subway rat carried 18 viruses previously unknown to science, along with dozens of familiar, dangerous pathogens, such as C difficile andhepatitis C. As recently as 1994 there was a major recurrence of bubonic plague in India, an unpleasant flashback to the 14th century, when that rat-borne illness killed 25 million people in five years. Collectively, rats are responsible for more human death than any other mammal on earth.
Humans have a peculiar talent for exterminating other species. In the case of rats, we have been pursuing their total demise for centuries. We have invented elaborate, gruesome traps. We have trained dogs, ferrets, and cats to kill them. We have invented ultrasonic machines to drive them away with high-pitched noise. (Those machines, still popular, do not work.) We have poisoned them in their millions. In 1930, faced with a rat infestation on Rikers Island, New York City officials flushed the area with mustard gas. In the late 1940s, scientists developed anticoagulants to treat thrombosis in humans, and some years later supertoxic versions of the drugs were developed in order to kill rats by making them bleed to death from the inside after a single dose. Cityscapes and farmlands were drenched with thousands of tons of these chemicals. During the 1970s, we used DDT. These days, rat poison is not just sown in the earth by the truckload, it is rained from helicopters that track the rats with radar – in 2011 80 metric tonnes of poison-laced bait were dumped on to Henderson Island, home to one of the last untouched coral reefs in the South Pacific. In 2010, Chicago officials went “natural”: figuring a natural predator might track and kill rats, they released 60 coyotes wearing radio collars on to the city streets.
How is it that we can send robots to Mars and yet remain unable to keep rats from threatening our food supplies?
Still, here they are. According to Bobby Corrigan, the world’s leading expert on rodent control, many of the world’s great cities remain totally overcome. “In New York – we’re losing that war in a big way,” he told me. Combat metaphors have become a central feature of rat conversation among pest control professionals. In Robert Sullivan’s 2014 book Rats, he described humanity’s relationship with the species as an “unending and brutish war”, a battle we seem always, always to lose.
Why? How is it that we can send robots to Mars, build the internet, keep alive infants born so early that their skin isn’t even fully made – and yet remain unable to keep rats from threatening our food supplies, biting our babies, and appearing in our toilet bowls?
frankly, rodents are the most successful species,” Loretta Mayer told me recently. “After the next holocaust, rats and Twinkies will be the only things left.” Mayer is a biologist, and she contends that the rat problem is actually a human problem, a result of our foolish choices and failures of imagination. In 2007, she co-founded SenesTech, a biotech startup that offers the promise of an armistice in a conflict that has lasted thousands of years. The concept is simple: rat birth control
The rat’s primary survival skill, as a species, is its unnerving rate of reproduction. Female rats ovulate every four days, copulate dozens of times a day and remain fertile until they die. (Like humans, they have sex for pleasure as well as for procreation.) This is how you go from two to 15,000 in a single year. When poison or traps thin out a population, they mate faster until their numbers regenerate. Conversely, if you can keep them from mating, colonies collapse in weeks and do not rebound.
Solving the rat problem by putting them on the pill sounds ridiculous. Until recently no pharmaceutical product existed that could make rats infertile, and even if it had, there was still the question of how it could be administered. But if such a thing were to work, the impact could be historic. Rats would die off without the need for poison, radar or coyotes.
SenesTech, which is based in Flagstaff, Arizona, claims to have created a liquid that will do exactly that. In tests conducted in Indonesian rice fields, South Carolina pig farms, the suburbs of Boston and the New York City subway, the product, called ContraPest, caused a drop in rat populations of roughly 40% in 12 weeks. This autumn, for the first time, the company is making ContraPest available to commercial markets in the US and Europe. The team at SenesTech believes it could be the first meaningful advance in the fight against rats in a hundred years, and the first viable alternative to poison. Mayer was blunt about the implications: “This will change the world.”
Mayer is a tall, vigorous woman in her mid-60s with bright eyes, spiky grey hair and a toothy grin. Her ideologies of choice are Buddhism and the Girl Scouts. “It’s kind of my core,” she said of the latter, “to do for others.” In conversation, her manner is so upbeat that she seems to be holding forth radiantly before an audience or on the verge of bursting into song. When asked how she is doing, she frequently responds in a near-rapture: “If I was any better, I’d be a twin!” – she also appears to enjoy watching people wonder whether this is an expression they should know.
When I took a seat in her office earlier this year, she clapped her hands triumphantly and said “Ooh! You’re sitting in history and strength!” There was a pause. “I had a feng shui person come and do my office,” she explained.

 by Jordan Kisner