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Birth control for rats, Valley-based company looks to resolve rodent problems

Posted at 10:25 PM, Aug 30, 2022

GILBERT, AZ — A Phoenix-based company is helping eliminate the roof rat problem, one drink at a time.

At Wildhorse Ranch Rescue in Gilbert there are all kinds of animals being cared for and nurtured. In some way, the pesky rats are also getting a great living situation.

"It’s a sweet milk and they love it. They absolutely love the taste of this stuff. They fight over it," said Kim Meagher, founder of the ranch, referencing the white liquid in an upside down rodent bottle feeder.

The liquid and feeding contraption is called ContraPest, which is made by valley headquartered SenesTech Inc.

"It is a monthly birth control," Meagher continued. "It means they can’t have babies. They can go on 'dates' all day long, but as long as they stop at the 'rodent date bar' and have a few 'cocktails', then no babies come out after this. That’s the only way you’re going to control the population."

Kim said her property used to be full of rats and mice, but she completely got rid of the population years ago by preventing the rapid reproduction.

Contrapest says that a single male and female rat can produce up to 15,000 descendants in a single year.

"You can't kill enough of them to get a handle on their birth rate. So this does that," said Meagher, who has five traps around her property.

"Because of fruit trees and the landscape of Arizona, it's ripe for roof rats," said Nicole Williams, Director of Strategy for SenesTech.

Just months ago, the company got EPA approval for a new 'elevate bait system,' which can be mounted in trees and roofs.

Williams told ABC15 the liquid is especially effective with the thirsty critters.

"About 10% of [rats] body weight every day [is from] consuming liquid," said Williams. "So they go in, they drink it and they have absolutely no physical impact, aside from the fact that they cannot reproduce."

"We don’t believe in poisoning or killing them. We’re an animal rescue," said Meagher. "And a lot of other places have contacted us from all over the world."

Meagher believes the product is not only better for the planet, but also prevents other animals, like hawks and cats, from ingesting poison when they catch and eat the rodents.