Rats are back

The adaptable, omnivorous and ever-present urban parasite may outlive mankind.

The Canadian province of Alberta is proud of its a rat-free status. For 50 years it has been fighting a ruthless war against rats, with proactive measures that have prevented the rodents from entering the area.

In addition to the Arctic, Antarctica and certain islands such as Iceland, today Alberta is one of the few areas of the world to enjoy this privilege. Elsewhere on the planet, unbeknownst to us, we live surrounded by rats, especially in metropolises like New York, London and Paris.

Few animals elicit the same fear and repulsion as the common rat (Rattus norvegicus), perhaps because the bubonic plague that wreaked ruin throughout Europe in the Middle Ages was carried by the parasitic fleas on some subspecies. The recurring presence of these animals in literature bears witness to the power that they have in our collective subconscious.

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