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Neighbourhood hit by ‘brazen’ rats

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A central parish has been hit by a plague of rats, residents said yesterday.

Residents in the Appleby Lane area of Paget said the neighbourhood had been overrun by “brazen” rodents.

Ian Adderley, who lives in Appleby Lane, said: “I’m not blaming anybody, but I think that we need to try to find a solution to a higher infestation than we’ve ever had before in the past,”

Other residents said the rats, larger and less timid than they had seen before, were first noticed about two months ago.

Mike Parrish, also of Appleby Lane, said: ”I’ve lived here for nearly three years and it’s never been this bad before.

“Over the last few months, the numbers have really increased, I’ve noticed one or two before but nothing like this.”

Mr Parrish, 58, said he had seen “eight or nine at a time” in his backyard.

He added he had shown photographs of the rats to others.

Mr Parrish said: “I showed a lot of people last week and they couldn’t believe it. They reckon it looks like a cat.

Mr Adderley, 72, added the rats in the neighbourhood had started to act like “pedestrians”.

He said: “The rats used to come out at dusk and run up the power lines. Now they just go ahead and cross the street in the middle of the day. We never used to see that.”

Residents said they agreed with the Environmental Health Department that the problem could only be tackled by a combined effort by Vector Control staff and more responsible attitudes by members of the public.

People in the area were divided on whether less frequent trash collection had contributed to the increased number of rats.

Mr Adderley said: “The trash collection has contributed to the rat problem since they stopped collecting it twice a week.

“If you can stop the intrusion of rats from getting into your trash by putting a lid on it, do it.

“You see people putting their trash out days before it gets picked up which will just attract more and more and more rats. People have to do their part.”

However, Mr Parrish insisted: “I don’t believe that its entirely related to the once a week trash collection. The trash collection has been once a week for two years now and I’ve only noticed the increase in the past few months, so I don’t think it’s that.”

But the two men agreed that Vector Control staff had done their best to eradicate the rat infestation. Mr Adderley said: “They’ve come up here so many times, I’ve called them so many times because of the situation. The young man in charge of this area says he cant keep up.”

Mr Parrish added: “I imagine they’re overworked. We’ve got to put the effort in like everybody else.”

Armell Thomas, a senior Environmental Health Officer, said that Vector Control got between “20 to 50 calls per day”.

He added: “We’re understaffed right now, we’re at 20 and are usually at 24 to 26. We just brought on two new guys and hopefully can get a few more, but that doesn’t address the issue of people’s behaviour.”

Mr Thomas added: “We need everyone’s support here. You can’t just expect to call Vector Control and have the problem solved.”

Mr Thomas explained that warm weather had contributed to increased sightings. He said: “People are probably seeing more rodents in the summer months because it’s very hot in the ground, so they’re coming out. People are also doing things like having barbecues outside and not cleaning up immediately.”

Mr Thomas added: “We need to work together with the public, that’s the bottom line. We only have 20 people, and there’s no way that 20 people can service about 22,000 homes.”

Mr Thomas said the public could help prevent rat infestation “by keeping their yards clean, keeping their trees cut back, making sure they have bins and lids for their trash, waiting for the trash days before putting trash out and cleaning up the barbecue right away”.

But he added: “It’s important for areas to be on the same page, you could be doing all the right things to your property, getting bait boxes and such, but your neighbour might not be getting bait boxes.”

“I would like to encourage the public to continue to work with us instead of just looking at us as if we’re just going to solve everything, we can probably solve about 80 per cent of the problem, but the other 20 per cent we need the help of the public.”

Vector Control can be contacted at 278 5397.

A rat in the Appleby Lane area of Paget (Photograph submitted)