Birds do it. So do bees. Especially bees.
But common rats pollinating plants? In a study published in June in the journal Ecology, two researchers report that in Colombia, brown rats, the same ones that feast on garbage and steal slices of pizza in cities around the world, may be the primary pollinator in urban settings for the feijoa plant, which produces a fruit that is widely consumed in the country.
“I was very surprised because, in the beginning, I knew about the stories but never paid much attention,” said Carlos Matallana-Puerto, a plant biologist at the State University of Campinas in Brazil, whose remarks were translated by João Custódio Fernandes Cardoso, a co-author of the report. “Then when I started to study, I started to get excited because I started to realize that the thing makes sense.”
In Mr. Matallana-Puerto’s hometown Duitama, Colombia, residents — including his father and brother, and even the old lady living down the street — had long reported seeing typically nocturnal rats walking and perching in trees in broad daylight.