Garbage: rats infest city

2010-03-18 00:00

THE rubbish lying on the streets of the city has been likened to a fast-food take-away for rats.

It has been a week since the service delivery strikes ended, and the rubbish still lining the streets of Pietermaritzburg is attracting a large numbers of rodents.

“There has been a tremendous increase in the numbers of rats in the city and the suburbs, and we have been inundated with calls, and this certainly coincides with the municipal strikes,” said Don Smale, owner of Swat exterminators.

“Rats usually don’t move in this early in the year, and I think the fact that they have is directly linked to the garbage not being collected.” said Smale.

Susan Garbutt, manager at Service Master Pest Control agreed. “The municipal strikes have definitely had an impact on the rodent population. Any refuse lying around is like a take-away for them.”

While the rats will breed more rapidly, the rubbish will also attract other vermin.

“There will be an increase in flies and cockroaches because of all the rubbish,” said Bernard Beyers, the owner of Pest Wizard.

The municipality said it is unaware of a rat problem. “We request members of the public to contact our environmental health section with relevant information and will thereafter take further action,” said Msunduzi Municipality spokeswoman Ntobeko Ngcobo.

Environmental health can be reached at 033 392 2344/5.

Residents in Pietermaritzburg told The Witness they have noticed an increase in rats.

A reader in Prestbury said that in Baker Road, which is off Milliken Road, their rubbish has not been picked up for three weeks.

“They don’t pick up a thing. The rats have been feeding off it and I now have a huge rat problem in my ceiling. I pick the rubbish up, but dogs spread it around again.”

Another reader said he saw three “very big” rats after he parked in Boom Street in the city centre yesterday morning. He said they were feasting on the rubbish lying around.

The rats that these readers have spotted are probably the black (Rattus norvegicus) varieties, says Smale.

They are commonly found in urban and suburban areas, thrive in warm areas and breed more often when food is available.

Social groups of up to 60 are common in the black rat species, which can carry a host of pathogens, including bubonic plague, typhus, toxoplasmosis and trichinosis.

The brown rat is also known to carry these bacteria and others that may cause Weil’s disease and rat-bite fever, among others.

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