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Report declares Detroit relatively vermin-free



A new report from Bloomberg
based on data from the United States Census Bureau confirms what we've suspected for a while: Detroit, compared to other U.S. cities, doesn't seem to have high concentrations of roaches, mice, and rats. 

The information comes from the 2013 American Housing Survey, released last month, in which households reported whether they'd seen roaches or rodents in their apartments. The ticker-watchers at Bloomberg, who put together the charts, seemed surprised by the results. Bloomberg wrote: "Detroit ranked as the city where residents are least likely to report a mouse, rat, or cockroach — somewhat surprising given the blighted condition of the city's housing stock."

Before you roll your eyes at that statement, consider what you think you know about vermin, rats in particular. Rats are one of those things that everybody thinks they understand, but may not. Rats are miracles of evolution: They can walk on telephone wires, leap four feet, chew through cinderblocks, swim or dig for days at a time, fall 50 feet and land uninjured. Now, what is it that these highly evolved little critters want? Is it to be sheltered by a blighted building?

Nonsense: They want food. Particularly, they want to live in places where there is a great deal of discarded food, places with restaurants, bakeries, delis, and pizzerias. And, although it's often overstated and overplayed, Detroit has been called a "food desert" for a reason. And if there isn't food for the rats to eat, they won't exactly bust down the door to get in.

Put it another way, New York City urban rat expert Robert M. Corrigan says, " The idea that [hordes] of rats are always found in old empty buildings (or dark tunnels such as sewers and subways) is myth perpetuated by Hollywood rather than a reality. In general, old empty buildings (or any other vacant structure) will not harbor any rats if there is no food."

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