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Wild Animals/common brown rat relocation


QUESTION: I am a firm believer in not killing any animal if not necessary, my question is,,I have a colony of small brown rats (I am in South Florida) residing under my shed, and one by one I have been live trapping them and relocating them across the street in a  thickly wooded area (about 2-3 acres); this is about 100 yards from my shed, I have brought 6 over there in as many nights to this point...will they stay put or return to the shed...thanks in advance!...Nick

ANSWER: Dear Nick,

We do the same thing with our visiting Brown Rats when they get a bit too numerous and enthusiastic.  8P

They do home.  They can do this from a really long distance.  So if you are merely taking them across the street, they are very likely coming right back home when you're not looking.

To really get them re-located, you'll need to take them 5-6 miles away to a nice, wooded area.  Please try to do this in small groups or pairs, since rats are very social and family-oriented.  They need each other for social and psychological wellbeing.  They are very cute and intelligent, despite the hatred people have for them.

Good luck, and thank you for your kindness.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I got an opinion from another expert, (who will remain annonymous) and he was quite brutal in his response,,,castigating me for live trapping them and telling me they need to be "killed" because they are invasive and harmful...needless to say,,he did not recieve any rating or recomendations, as you will..( I am also an expert here ...tropical plants ) thank you for "Your" kindness..Nick

Dear Nick,

Maybe that other expert needs to be reminded about that other, even MORE invasive species, Homo sapiens.  (Problem is:  how do you relocate them far enough so they don't come back?)


Cool!  Tropical plants!  I'm a big fan, and occasionally teach Botany at UM.  Carry on the good fight!


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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.


I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

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I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

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