Rats! I’ve put my bin out too early
Residents are being urged to put out their trash on the morning of collection days to prevent garbage attracting rats.
Vector Control warned the public after receiving more reports of rats in areas where rubbish had been allowed to pile up since the island switched to once-weekly trash pick-up.
Senior Environmental Health Officer Armell Thomas, the programme manager for Vector Control, said: “With regards to the kerbside pick-ups, there are no real issues. But it's the areas where the trucks cannot go because they've got small streets and they have to compile the trash all in one area — that's where we are seeing an increase.”
Mr Thomas added: “Rodents carry diseases, so of course there is a risk. We want to remind the public to put their trash out the morning of collection.”
He also recommended putting the bags in trash bins and emphasised: “What we need overall in Bermuda is a bit more education about kerbside trash pick-up.”
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, announced last month that once-weekly garbage collections would be extended until June 29.
Once-a-week trash collection began in February after garbage collectors ended a work-to-rule over concerns about the lack of staffing and trash trucks.
Tracy Woolridge, a Vector Control general foreman, said residents were quick to blame works and engineering staff or Vector Control when they encountered a rodent problem.
He said: “A lot has to do with people's behaviour because if somebody misses the trash day, they will put their trash out and just leave it out there until the next Thursday.
“So a lot of people have created their problems but then they want to blame works and engineering or Vector Control. But it's your behaviour that is causing the problem.”
Mr Woolridge added: “Prevention is always better than cure, so you're not going to leave your trash there a whole week.
“People will bypass the trash every day, see it being pulled out and they won't go back and get bags and put it in bags. Then, the following week, you are putting more trash there.
“That's why I don't like community trash areas where everybody puts their trash in one area because if you leave it there, the rats will say ‘oh this is a food source'.
“Eventually, they could burrow underneath the trash.”
Mr Thomas warned that trash that had been left out could also attract cats and birds and if bags were torn open and the trash was strewn about, it could become a breeding area for mosquitoes. He added that the trash would also be more appealing to rats than the bait put out by Vector Control.
Mr Thomas said: “So, the rat is bypassing the bait we've put out and going straight for the trash.”
He added that Vector Control would be introducing a new product in about two months to reduce the island's rodent population.
Mr Thomas explained: “What we are going to do is sterilise these rodents. It's like a contraceptive. It stops them from breeding.”
He said Vector Control would also be liaising with the Ministry of Public Works if it would be feasible to mandate bins.
“It's something we may have to look for so that in the future, that every household has to have a bin.”
Chief Environmental Health Officer Tom Crossan added that it was also the public's responsibility to properly dispose of their trash while out and about.
He said: “If you want to avoid pests, be responsible and use the bins. It's not rocket science.”
How to get rid of rodents
There are three rodent species in Bermuda that pose a health risk, according to the experts at Vector Control.
The house mouse, the black rat and the brown rat all have the potential to spread disease and cause damage.
General foreman Tracy Woolridge said the black rat, also known as a “roof rat”, nested in palm and banana trees while the brown rat was a ground dweller.
Armell Thomas, the programme manager for Vector Control, said the brown rats' burrows should not be mistaken for crab holes.
He explained: “Crabs burrow as well but they don't burrow as deep as the rat. If the sand is still around the hole, then it's a crab hole.”
Mr Thomas said rat burrows are about two to four inches in diameter.
He added: “Once they burrow holes, you can get about eight rats in one hole. And then they are going to breed and cause a problem.”
Vector Control staff aim to attend a property within 48 hours of receiving a report of rodents. Their service is free but they charge $15 per bait box.
The inspectors look for burrows, dead or live rodents, droppings, gnaw marks, nests, odour, rub marks, runways, tracks, sounds and urine stains.
They also offer advice to the public and businesses on how to solve the problem and can inspect buildings to see how rats are getting in.
Vector Control deals with rodent and mosquito infestations and prevention.
• For more information, or to report a problem, contact Vector Control at 278-5397 or e-mail email@example.com
Garbage collection days
According to the Bermuda Government website:
• Mondays: All of Sandys Parish. Western Southampton Parish down to and including Church Road.
• Tuesdays: East of Church Road, Southampton, to and including Cobbs Hill Road, Warwick.
• Wednesdays: East of Cobbs Hill to Trimingham Hill and Crow Lane, Paget. Pembroke — west of Blackwatch Pass, Barnard's Park, the junction of Court Street and North Street and Woodbourne Avenue.
• Thursdays: Pembroke — east of Blackwatch Pass, Bernard Park, the junction of Court Street and North Street. East Paget from Trimingham Hill. All of Devonshire Parish. Smith's Parish up to Devil's Hole Hill. Western end of Hamilton Parish up to and including Flatts.
• Fridays: Hamilton Parish from Flatts to the Causeway. Smith's Parish from Devil's Hole to Pink Beach. All of St George's Parish.