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back to article Galapagos islands bombed with 22 tonnes of Blue Death Cornflakes

Twenty-two tonnes of cereal laced with pesticide have been dropped on the Galapagos Islands over the past week to get rid of a rat menace that has seen 10 rats pack every square meter on the island of Pinzón. In the biggest raticide in South American history, the Ecuadorian government, working with conservation groups, has …

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Madness I tell you

Sounds like the perfect way to breed a poison-tolerant rat.

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Re: Madness I tell you

Not if you get them all. Adaptation generally arises from low-level exposure, where differences in the gene pool allow some individuals to tolerate the poison better and thus have a competitive advantage over the others. If you give them all a dose large enough that genetic variations within the species cannot allow any to survive, then you eradicate the infestation. This is one reason why it is so important that you finish a course of antibiotics you have been given, even if you're feeling better - it ought to ensure that the level in your body remains high enough for long enough that bacteria slightly more able to cope than others don't get a competitive advantage and start to predominate.

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Re: Madness I tell you

You could very easily breed a rat that doesn't eat the stuff because they don't like the taste/colour

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Re: Madness I tell you

You possibly could with some difficulty (not least being the need to evolve normal tri-chromatic colour vision in a rat). But as you have already solved your problem by carpet-bombing an island with delicious blue poisonous bait, I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

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Headmaster

Re: YAOC

Yep. AFAIK that's one of the first survival instincts (or random sampling effects) to kick in. The rats that don't like the colour/smell/taste survive. Now you have a set of rats "programed" to avoid the poison.

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Re: Madness I tell you

The previous poster said you wouldn't evolve a rat population that was immune to the poison because no rat could eat any amount and survive.

But you could effectively evolve a rat population that was "immune" if there was a subset of rats that refused to eat the poison (for whatever reason) and passed that behaviour onto their offspring.

There are lots of examples of indirect/societal evolution like this in the animal world. It's often missed on a simple biological model

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FAIL

Bloody armchair experts

To the untrained this might sound like a brilliant way to breed resistant rats, but the people involved likely took their time working out how to do this properly.

New Zealand Dept of Conservation has managed to completely eradicate rats and other vermin from various islands. They have also conducted many pest reduction exercises on other islands. I the early days these were just "give it a go" exercises that often failed but more recently they have been exercises specifically tailored to build up a knowledge on how to use statistics etc to plan these exterminations.

The NZ DoC consults to various countries on how to conduct these exterminations and I expect their knowledge has been tapped here too.

Doubt though they will be asking for advice from random reg comentards.

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Facepalm

Re: Madness I tell you

FartingHippo

100% kill = no survivors = no poison tolerant rats.

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Pirate

Sounds like a great idea.

Not.

You'd think we could stop ourselves after buggering the place up the first time, and not keep doing it.

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Pint

Re: Sounds like a great idea.

On the flip side, as we've already inflicted ourselves on this poor place in the traditional human style, perhaps it's a great place to try these ideas, than, say, the Brazilian rainforests.

Of course, we could have just gone down the boozer instead. It is nearly beer'o'clock.

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IT Angle

Think of the smell!

How stinky are several tens of thousand dead rats going to get?

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Re: Think of the smell!

And will anyone eat the dead mammals?

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Pint

Re: Think of the smell!

Perhaps not as stinky as all the guano.

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Decimated

"They have decimated 100% of tortoise hatchlings for the past 100 years"

So they killed 1 in 10 or 100%? Make your mind up!

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Linux

Re: Decimated

Maybe the word they work groping for was 'annihilated' as in 'annihilated 100% of Tortoise hatchlings'

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Headmaster

Re: Decimated

Yes, every time I hear someone use the term "decimate" as opposed to "annihilate", I want to beat someone. Don't get me wrong. A decimation of humans in the original sense is horrible. Decimating animals that will (literally) "breed like rats" is a waste of time IMO.

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Boffin

Re: Decimated

Obviously, the rats reduced each hachling by a tenth; a leg here, a head there - never the whole hatching, no, just 10%. These are some fairly OCD rats.

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Joke

Re: Decimated

I just figured that the "decimated" rats were now fully motivated to get about their ratty business. No more desertions or malingering for them!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Decimated

From the Oxford dictionary:

verb

[with object]

1kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of: the inhabitants of the country had been decimated

drastically reduce the strength or effectiveness of (something): public transport has been decimated

2 historical kill one in every ten of (a group of people, originally a mutinous Roman legion) as a punishment for the whole group: the man who is to determine whether it be necessary to decimate a large body of mutineers

Historically, the meaning of the word decimate is ‘kill one in every ten of (a group of people)’. This sense has been more or less totally superseded by the later, more general sense ‘kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of’, as in the virus has decimated the population. Some traditionalists argue that this is incorrect, but it is clear that it is now part of standard English.

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Headmaster

Re: Decimated

> but it is clear that it is now part of standard English.

What's clear is that a lot of people don't really know what words mean.

This is why people use "incredible", "fantastic", "unbelievable", "brilliant", "awesome" and a host of other words to mean "very good". Those words mean very different and interesting things.

Honestly, the real problem is the unimaginative use of adjectives by people these days, and the general substitution of the word "like" for breathing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Decimated

I often use the words "incredible" and "fantastic". It avoids all the unpleasantness associated with telling somebody I think they are lying.

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Headmaster

Re: Maybe the word they work groping for was 'annihilated'

...but then that would have been a tautology...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Decimated

Incredible and unbelievable are synonyms even if you use their archaic meanings. Brilliant and awesome still retain their alternate meanings even in modern English.

Decimation meaning the killing of one in ten of a group is archaic, there's no way around that.

Words change. It may very well be because the general public does not understand their original meanings. This is not a new phenomenon though, people in the middle ages were busy misusing Latin, the ancient Romans were messing around with the meaning of Greek words.

It's a really bizarre idea that you can point out a specific period of history and say that is when a word was defined and it's meaning should never change. Especially when you're using so many words that no longer retain their original meaning without even realising it.

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Happy

Re: Decimated

and the general substitution of the word "like" for breathing."

Oh, if only....

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Re: Decimated

Meanings change. Some day I'll give up getting annoyed when people say they have been electrocuted. Give me time.

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Angel

Re: Decimated

I have been electromocuted?

Does that help?

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Go

Re: Decimated

funny

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Terminator

A good job for the MIT robot lab, allied to Lockheed-Martin

Your mission: Develop RAT-101, an autonomous system that can patrol an island-largish area in adverse weather conditions, either terrestrially or aerially for at least a week before needing pick-up. It shall identify and terminate any biological entity of the genus "Rattus" - and only those - by means to be proposed (possible means may include, but are not limited to, projectile weapons or force applied through physical contact). Reusing existing or COTS software and hardware systems is strongly encouraged. Proposal for compact nuclear energy sources are accepted.

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Black Helicopters

Re: A good job for the MIT robot lab, allied to Lockheed-Martin

RAT-101? Would that be the first iteration of the Rat-Thing from Snow Crash?

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Re: A good job for the MIT robot lab, allied to Lockheed-Martin

yeah that's great until it malfunctions and starts destroying humans

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Thumb Up

Re: A good job for the MIT robot lab, allied to Lockheed-Martin

!!Spoiler!!

That was a cool story, and they were actually cybernetically enhanced stray Dogs, kind of like RoboCop, with Jet engines, used as guard dogs; they'd probably make damned good ratters, given one took out a passenger Jet! :)

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Mushroom

I say we nuke them from orbit - its the only way to be sure.

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jai
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a downvote? really? on a friday of all things?

it's all but mandatory that someone makes that quote in this situation, i was going to myself if i hadn't been beaten to it.

or, did you think it was a serious suggestion??

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Anonymous Coward

Bell Labs??

From Unix to pesticides, all your bug-control needs in one place!

At least that's the IT angle covered...

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TRT
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Drop starving celebs on the island. Including hairy cornflakes.

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You have hit the nail on the head

'Drop starving celebs on the island. Including hairy cornflakes.'

Who wouldn't want to see Nadine Dorries chasing rats around the Galagapos?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You have hit the nail on the head

Who wouldn't want to see rats chasing Nadine Dorries around the Galagapos?

There, fixed it for you.

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FAIL

We Americans have been eating these flakes for generations

We just got fatter and so have our rats.

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Anonymous Coward

Species specific rat poison.

Hmmm....can they develop something that only attracts patent lawyers?

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Devil

Re: Species specific rat poison.

Blue apples?

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Re: Species specific rat poison.

I think they just need to make it green (for the US species at lest). Maybe add a BMW logo.

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Stop

Re: Species specific rat poison.

If they did, wouldn't they want to patent it, though?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Species specific rat poison.

I assume you are referring to Homo Ratus, varieties including Patent Lawyer, Injury Compensation 'fishing' (Ambulance Chaser) Lawyer, Inland Revenue Lawyer etc.

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why don't they just parachute in a shit load of cats?

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I can lend them mine. I doubt it would take more than two days for her to clear an island. She's seen alien vs predator a few too many times.

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I suppose as long as the cats were sterilized that idea has some merit. Although they would kill alot of endangered critters too. Then again, I'm not convinced the poison won't.

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WTF?

I realise that was a facetious comment but cats would be worse than rats. I suspect one of the reasons that the rodent population has boomed has been they have finally gotten rid of all the cats.

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No since there are endangered birds on the islands, and cats are also known to hunt birds. No, you need something a little more selective.

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Neutered starving toms are pretty effective.

Plus they can be called in or terminated.

They could have cat and poison weeks each year.

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They have cats too

They like lizard and bird more then rat.

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