Mar
25
2009

Potato-Potahto: Desert rat plague/gerbil abortion edition

I can has babiez?: Um, no. Sorry.
I can has babiez?: Um, no. Sorry.Courtesy roo72
Chinese officials have come up with another plan to combat their “desert rat plague,” one so crazy it just might work: gerbil abortion snacks.

As far as I can tell, gerbils (or “desert rats,” I guess) are native to China’s deserts and dry grasslands. However, the gerbils have gotten out of control, and are destroying too much of the grass, possibly accelerating desertification in a country that’s already one third desert.

According to Wikipedia, China already came up with a plan so crazy it just might work: in 2003, the government began releasing eagles into the desert to control the Gerbil population. Apparently, despite being so crazy it just might work, it didn’t work, and they have moved on to gerbil abortion pills.

The pills are small, resemble bran feed, and will be scattered around the gerbils’ burrows. They should prevent gerbils from becoming pregnant, and cause abortions in already-pregnant females. According to official press release, the pills should have “little effect on other animals.” Shucks, this plan is just so crazy it might work.

I don’t know too much about the situation, but scattering birth control pills across a fragile ecosystem seems… It seems like something that wouldn’t surprise me if it had plenty of unforeseen repercussions. Also, considering how the gerbils are a native species, it makes me wonder what happened that they have become a danger to their ecosystem. My guess is that there are too few predators. (Which, I suppose, the eagle infusion of 2003 was meant to address.) One wonders how the remaining gerbil predators will be affected by eating rodents stuffed with birth control pills…

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Joe's picture
Joe says:

St. Paul tested a method of controlling pigeons, which used a birth control additive in feed...don't know if it worked, but similar idea I guess. They tried other tactics too...

posted on Thu, 03/26/2009 - 9:21pm
jacob 513's picture
jacob 513 says:

desert rats are scavengers so if they bite you you need to clean it out good or call poison controll

posted on Fri, 06/26/2009 - 4:47pm
jacob 513's picture
jacob 513 says:

hi its jacob again i have been studying desert rats in the 19 centry 578 were killed because bite from a desert rat

posted on Tue, 06/30/2009 - 11:01am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Hi Jacob,

That's really interesting! The "desert rats" the post refers to are pretty much the same things we call "gerbils." I didn't realize gerbil bites were so dangerous. I suppose it's a good idea to carefully wash out any kind of animal bite, even if it's from something cute and furry. Where have you been studying desert rats? Let us know, in case anyone else wants to read more about them!

posted on Tue, 06/30/2009 - 11:31am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

thats so iteresting i didn't know mmy rodent could do that to me :0

posted on Tue, 06/30/2009 - 11:35am
jacob513's picture
jacob513 says:

hi jgordan thats true you have to be carefull with animals even if they are cute and fury and i have been studying at my loacal libary in sibley iowa every one can right back jacob

posted on Mon, 07/20/2009 - 1:38pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Cool. Thanks, Jacob. You should register on the site—that way it'll be easier to see if people asked you questions, and you can post your answers instantly (you might have noticed that it takes a little while for them to show up at the moment).

Go here to register.

posted on Mon, 07/20/2009 - 2:22pm

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