"It's a very natural thing," Dr. Loretta Mayer, the co-founder of SenesTech tells the Wall Street Journal. "We're just accelerating it in these animals." But as any suave bachelor rat will tell you, no artificial poison will ever match the philters of warm mayonnaise packets submerged in half-eaten lo mein: bait has to be more appealing than delicious garbage. So Mayer's team is conducting tests in a few subway trash rooms to see what discerning rodents prefer. "We really won't know [what works] until we get in there," Mayer says.
The new poison has proven effective in rural environments (in part due to their lack of food alternatives for rats) and does not affect other organisms. The MTA is testing the bait in New York City thanks to a $1 million grant from the National Institute of Health. Rat Eradication In America's Largest City: Worth Considerably Less Than A Quarter Of David Schwimmer's East Village Apartment. Ahh, priorities.
The MTA's current rat eradication method has been ineffective, as any subway rider standing in any subway station right now, can attest. "We basically bait, trap and kill," Thomas Lamb, the MTA's chief of innovation and technology says. "If we just continue to do that, every year we'll have the same expense and the same result."
Female rats begin breeding at the age of four months, and usually give birth to six baby rats at least four times a year—a fact that is best not considered when you're trying to fall asleep to the dulcet sounds of scratching from behind the paper-thin walls of your shoebox apartment.
SenesTech will know their product is tasty enough if the ultraviolet dye the bait is coated with appears on rats' whiskers under a blacklight, and if not, Lamb says "They'll either have to change the ingredients or put it out with a hamburger or whatever the heck the rats are eating."
Renowned rodentologist Dr. Robert Corrigan has found a winning vehicle for his successful poisons in NYC: chicken nuggets. "Rats that grow up, say, from the dumpster behind a fast food chicken place, will love chicken," Corrigan says. "Bagel place, bagels. And so on." And so on, and so on, and so on, and...