Streams of rats alarm citizens

2012-07-09 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG’S rat population appears to be multiplying and rodents are invading homes.

This is due to an easy winter food supply for the rodents in the form of street litter.

“The municipality has to do something,” said Radha Juggoo, who lives behind the Ritchie Road municipal dump. The dump, which is for garden refuse only, has been abused as people dump general refuse there. Rodents have become particularly problematic for residents living around the dump.

“There’s a whole family in my shed”, Juggoo said of her rat problem. She has not attempted to eliminate the vermin as she fears inadvertently poisoning her dog. Juggoo’s dog also brings home unwanted items from the dump. She has had to pick up soiled diapers and sanitary pads. The dump’s odour too is a bother.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said that site attendants control what gets dumped. The municipality cannot have attendants 24 hours and “people take advantage” when attendants leave. “To some extent we are to blame if we have not collected domestic waste as per schedule… but the community also needs to be responsible and not dump rubbish which is not garden refuse,” Zuma said.

“I am sure that there is a relationship between the amount of litter and the number of rats”, said Professor Mike Perrin of the UKZN School of Biological and Conservation Sciences.

He explained that rats become more conspicuous during winter as competition for food increases.

Tony Joseph of ABC Pest Control Services observed that rodent extermination has risen by 15 to 20% since last year. “The colonies are expanding,” he said.

Eleanor Pienaar described her surprise when she saw rats all the way from Cato Ridge to the road works at Chota Motala Bridge.

“It was just a constant stream”, she said. Maureen Vida of the SPCA noted that rat overpopulation has resulted in an increase in feral cats, while the SPCA has had more cat adoptions as people seek to eradicate rats.

To protect homes against rats all entrances must be sealed. Bristle strips can be fitted to block gaps surrounding doors and windows. Eaves of roofs should be sealed with wire mesh.

Vida cautioned against poisoning rats, which also harms birds of prey.

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