Urban rats pose a significant problem to society, both in terms of spreading disease and causing property damage. They are able to thrive because humans provide them with ample food and habitat, unwittingly supporting a symbiotic population of rodents that is both symbol and symptom of urban decay. The project described herein was designed to explore the relationship between human and rat populations. Two studies, conducted on three neighborhoods, related the degree of rat infestation with human attitudes and behavior. An intervention was applied in one neighborhood to assess the effectiveness of attitude-change techniques in reducing rat numbers. Results showed that in lower socioeconomic class neighborhoods rats are commonplace, and human residents possess a rich folklore concerning the behavior of rats and means of eradicating them. In higher class neighborhoods, rats were less evident and the citizens were lacking in knowledge about them. The intervention procedures were minimally effective while they were being applied, but rat numbers returned to their original high level when the intervention ceased. Reasons for this and suggestions for future workers are presented and discussed.

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