New rat birth control provides unorthodox solution to pest problems

When she’s not voting on budgets and local ordinances, Ferndale Councilwoman Laura Mikulski is running the Ferndale Rat Patrol.

She helps residents humanely control a gross problem far too common in many urban centers.  Call it a unique hobby.

"And then we have things like this - this is a rat burrow," she said. "We had a real serious problem in my neighborhood and that problem nobody was really doing anything about it. The way that Rat Patrol works is, when we’re able to treat a burrow we use different methods. We can use dry ice. A pest control person can’t.

"Our dry ice method: You fill the holes and the rats are down in the burrow, they basically get a bunch of CO2, and they go to sleep, and they don’t wake up."

But giving rats birth control while they play hide and squeak?

"I was skeptical at first," she said.

But when she connected with the folks who make a plant-based product known as Contrapest, she realized there might be something to this unorthodox approach.

"They’re already used to bait being there," she said. "And so we know that as they continue eating that, they’re sterilized and slowly but surely they die off."

"Two rats under good breeding circumstances can become 15,000 in one year," said Joel Fruendt.

Sobering stats from Fruendt, the CEO of Senestech - the company that makes Contrapest.

"It’s got two active ingredients but then it also has fatty inert materials as well as some sweet, so they love it," he said. "They keep coming back to it. Think of it as a milkshake for rats."

A desert-turned last meal, which he says works on both male and female rats, compassionately.

"That’s one of the issues that we’re seeing is that while you’re trapping and killing, they’re still having the offspring that will then multiply themselves," he said.

For Councilwoman Mikulski it’s one more tool in the toolbox in her work of educating communities across Metro Detroi on the ways to get rid of those pesky, freaky critters.

"It’s really easy to spot when you know what you are looking for," Mikulski. So you are looking for three holes, kind of like a bowling ball. So you’ve got two holes. That’s the top of the bowling ball. And then you’ve got one hole back there. So once you see those three holes, you’ve got your triangle. Your burrow is somewhere in that mix."

For more information go here for the Contrapest website.