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Barrel barker



Australia is not preoccupied with vaccinating its population against the Covid-19 virus, but with mice infestation. Local authorities and farmers in the eastern region are battling rodents infesting farms, barns and homes.

Homeowners bothered by mice ransacking their kitchen and pooping everywhere hire professional cleaners like Sue Hodge who set up mouse traps, collect dead mice, block holes and clean kitchens and bedrooms of mouse excrement.

At the government level, the New South Wales officials’ response is to provide farmers free rodenticides despite concerns the poison may contaminate crops and kill animals that might eat poisoned mice.

A safer way to deal with rodents is by deploying feral cats which Chicago, USA authorities did to fight the city’s street rats. Cats under the care of Tree House Humane Society Community are placed in residences and commercial properties to hunt and kill rats.

Communities can hire the cats for $600 to $800 under Tree House’s Cats at Work program. The fees are used for buying cat food and equipment like litter boxes, according to program manager Sarah Liss.

Cats apparently are not the only natural enemy of rats that can fight such pests. Dogs can also be tapped to hunt and kill rodents.

Last Friday night, terriers were deployed by their owners in the dark alleys of New York City’s Lower East Side to “seek and destroy” as many rats as possible. The leashed dogs dove into dumpsters, grabbing rodents with their teeth. They would come out with blood dripping from a dead rat in their mouth. The dead rats are donated to universities for use in biology lessons or to avian rehab centers as food for birds.

The rat hunt was organized by the Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society (RATS), which has been hunting vermin from piles of garbage, construction debris and bushes for the past 30 years as part of its community service. Residents with a rat problem can call the group via its Facebook page for help.

While RATS’ dogs and their owners are used in the hunts, two canines prefer to be in the whisky cellars of Scotland’s distilleries doing a non-icky task.

One-year-old cocker spaniel Rocco is employed by Grant’s, the third largest scotch maker in the world, to detect bad oak barrels that can apparently spoil the maturing process for their liquor. What exactly Rocco is sniffing is a secret that even the dog’s trainer won’t divulge.

Rocco and the other spaniels assigned to another distillery are only the two of their kind with the unusual job of sniffing imperfect casks. Grant’s global associate brand director is very proud of the dog as long as it doesn’t bark at the wrong tree.

The two’s partnership also assures a good animal-human working relationship beneficial to the company as Director Chris Waooff shares something in common with dogs.

with AFP