Issue Date: January 10, 2011
In the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the piper rids a 13th-century German town of rats by using a magic pipe to lure them to drown in a river. Then, as now, rats were seen as a scourge. They and other rodents are a public health threat, capable of transmitting bacterial, viral, or parasitic diseases through urine, fecal matter, or saliva. They can also be an ecological menace—when introduced to islands, they can . . .
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