Monday, June 17, 2013

New frontiers in bad animal behavior

Whenever I think I've seen it all, they manage to outdo themselves. Two very different stories of bad animals that we haven't seen before:

The headline from the excellent Nothing to do with Arbroath sums the first one up nicely:

Family perturbed by rat that makes nightly appearances in their toilet
 A family from Sutton in south London have been suffering from a large rat coming up their toilet when they go to the bathroom for nine months.
It's important to note that the mere fact of a rat in a toilet is not what's original here. This seems to be fairly commonplace, as you can see if you have a strong stomach from the results for this Flickr search. It's the persistence for nine months that makes this case remarkable. 

One has to wonder if the family, despite their protestations of horror, has played the usual bad animal enabling role in this: I find it highly suspicious that they've affectionately named the rat Roland.

(You can watch video at the original story, if you're braver than I am.)

That story is so unusual that it probably doesn't make you fear for your plumbing, but the next one should make you worry about your electronics:

A species of ant from South America is making its way across Texas and Florida:
The tiny insect is called "crazy" because the trail it leaves as it eats its way across the country is so erratic it appears the ants have tipped the bottle too many times..... It's so small -- less than an eighth of an inch long -- that millions can hide beneath a rock, or inside a computer or transformer.

According to researchers at Texas A&M, the chemicals that kill red ants aren't effective on crazy ants, so if you find an infestation in your home, call a pro.

Both reds and crazies and a few other species share a peculiar attraction to electrical wiring and components, and no one is sure why. The damages can be extreme. In one year alone, researchers documented $146.5 million in damages to electrical equipment just in Texas.

How they cause that damage also sounds like a really bad movie. One ant finds its way into a transformer and grazes against a hot wire. It gets electrocuted, and immediately "waves its abdomen in the air (called gaster flagging) to release its own brand of perfume, which lures many more ants to the scene.

If they touch their fallen comrade, or a hot switch, they too will be electrocuted, sending more pheromones into the air and calling even more ants to their location.
Read the rest of the premonitions of doom at the link if you dare.

Photo of Rat Fink Toilet Seat from Etsy.  Apparently this is actually a thing. Go ahead and do an image search if you don't believe me.

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