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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

Seven Swans a’Swimming (WTF with all the birds?)


A couple weeks ago, I’m watching boobies (the bird, get your mind out of the gutter) plunging after flying fish. The fish were flying and the birds were diving. Sort of goes against the established standard. Many of pest species are also great about being in areas we don’t think they should be or doing things we don’t think possible. Many of those involve swimming and water.

One of the most famous is of course the toilet rat. Yes, rats can hold their breath and swim for longer than you may think. A colleague of mine once asked me about a rat that they had seen in a bathroom and then …. They couldn’t find it again. Did it go back down the toilet? Yep, it likely did. If they can come up the pipes, it can certainly go back down.


One study looked at house mice and their swimming. Not only were they quite capable of swimming, they didn’t avoid it either. It wasn’t that they were forced into it so did it out of necessity, they were perfectly willing to do it. If I read it right, they would swim for hours?!


Norway rats are known to easily swim over half a mile. Researchers in one study found that out the hard way when they “lost” a rat on an island. Eighteen weeks later, they found it on a nearby island. Oops.


Then there are a whole lot of insects that thrive in wet environments. Of course there are mosquitoes and other aquatic insects. One of my favorite are the rat-tailed maggots. As the name suggests, these live in wet, gross environments and breathe through their “tail” to get air. Another fly that can survive in these fetid places is soldierfly larvae. They too breathe through the tip of their abdomen, but they don’t have the “tail” the rat-tailed maggots do.


Flies really have adapted to live in pretty harsh conditions. Such as the organic buildup inside a drain. It’s gooey and wet and probably crawling with all kinds of nasty bacteria. Phorid flies say “yum, that’s my new home!”. They have special little tubes to let them suck in fresh air from outside the guck. Oh, and fruit flies apparently stick out their tongue to get air.


So whatever pest has you a’swimming for help, let us know, we can help. Happy holidays!


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