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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Norway rat infestation of urban landscaping and preventive design criteria


Fifty-four landscaped areas in downtown Boston were surveyed for Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) activity. Each location also was characterized based on size, types of plantings, density of plantings, type of mulch, and sanitary and maintenance conditions. Factors most associated with the presence of rats were dense contiguous stands of shrubbery (e.g., needled evergreens) and refuse/litter availability on the ground. Design criteria should include effective spacing of shrubbery, limiting mass plantings of dense shrubs, selection of plant varieties that grow with openness underneath, strategically-placed and rodent-proof refuse containers, and use of crushed-stone inspection strips. Rodent control should be considered when landscapes arc designed, and proper maintenance of landscaped areas should be part of urban rodent control programs.

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