Rats spotted in Front Street store windows
A rat has been filmed scurrying among luxury luggage and handbags in a posh Hamilton shop.
Video footage posted on social media yesterday showed the rodent crawling among bags and holdalls in a window display at Voila on Front Street.
The rat is seen making its way from a large yellow Longchamp handbag on to a wallet.
Another clip shows it scuttling along a glass shelf.
A third film taken at French Connection, on Reid Street, showed a rat inside the shop, although it is believed that animal has since been caught.
Both outlets are run by Hornburg Calypso, which rents Voila from Butterfield Bank.
The city vermin appeared days after The Royal Gazette reported that government pest controllers had tackled a plague of rats at the Botanical Gardens.
Maritza Sequeros, the general sales manager of the Calypso group, said the rodent in French Connection was there last week.
She explained yesterday: “That one has been disposed of.
“My staff called me in a panic, the door was open, he literally walked into the store in broad daylight, it was the afternoon.
“We called vector control and they did come and put poison down all around the perimeters but they’re no longer allowed to operate for infestations inside premises, only outside.
“He wasn’t coming out during the day.
“We baited him with traps and we caught him about two days later, finally.”
Ms Sequeros said she had no idea how another rat had got into Voila and only became aware of the problem when an employee showed her the video.
She added it is thought a taxi driver had filmed the footage on Wednesday night and by yesterday morning it was “circulating all over the place”.
Ms Sequeros said her bank landlords had contacted the Government’s vector control team, the City of Hamilton and sent in their own contractors to put down traps.
She added: “It’s a waiting game now.”
Ms Sequeros said: “What I’m trying to figure out is, how did it get into the shop?
“The other one walked into the store because it was attracted by the garbage from the restaurants.
“I wish I had an answer, if there’s a hole, it needs to be patched up.”
Vector control teams have monitored the Botanical Gardens after parents said the vermin had scared people near the children’s play area in the Paget park.
A government spokeswoman said last week that 20 bait boxes had been installed in the Paget park.
Ms Sequeros said: “The thing is, if it’s our store I’m sure it’s more than our store. Unfortunately, it’s one of our shops and it’s on Front Street.
“I think it’s an island-wide issue, I’m not the only one dealing with it.
“I know it was at the Botanical Gardens — there’s a problem we need to address as a community.”
She added: “Unfortunately the ones that come to my stores like to be on display. Maybe I just need to get a cat.”
A government spokeswoman confirmed officers from the Department of Health’s Vector Control Team attended the shop.
She said they gave “advice and assistance ... including carrying out a survey to identify any potential structural problems”.
The spokeswoman added the pest controllers had checked drains along Front Street and put down poison bait.
The spokeswoman added: “The team will monitor the situation over the next few weeks to ascertain if any further interventions are required.”
A City of Hamilton spokeswoman said the pest controllers had also been called out to the City’s plant nursery on Pembroke’s Laffan Street because of “rat burrowing and an inflated presence”.
She added: “The City advises anyone who discovers rats on their private property to contact Vector Control to have the issue dealt with immediately.
“This includes those buildings located in the downtown area of Hamilton.”
Some rats carry the Leptospira bacteria, which can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, chills and vomiting in humans.
It can be contracted if people come into contact with the urine or blood of infected rodents or other animals.
In its most severe form — Weil’s disease — the condition can affect organs including the heart, brain and lungs.
In rare cases it can lead to organ failure and death.
A spokesman for the Butterfield Bank said the company had already called in contractors in pest control and had signed up another firm to come and inspect their Front Street building as a precaution.
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