Encountering a certain amount of rodent-related activity simply comes with the territory of living near a major metropolitan city; the two go hand-in-hand. Wherever there’s a tangible level of grime and filth, the pests are sure to follow. But even still, Melbourne is currently in the grips of an epidemic, with a swarm of rats rising up from the underground to the surface…
…and we’ve only got ourselves to blame.
As it turns out, the on-going Melbourne Metro tunnel project has disturbed the subterranean habitat of the city’s rat population, and heaps of the bastards are now being forced up onto the surface, presumably far above the jurisdiction and control of the mole people.
The cold weather and the constant construction works have seen the city’s rodent population flee their regular homes, invading businesses and homes in the CBD and surrounding areas.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle confirmed the wee beasties were running wild on the surface as a result of the works, telling ABC Radio that they’ve just hired pest control contractors to help manage and maintain the incoming plague.
It’s a bit of a field day for exterminators and certainly our officers are flat out laying bait as well. Rats or not, you’ve still got to be humane if you are destroying them. Nevertheless, you can’t have a rat plague overrunning the city.
In any city… there’s kind of a sub-fauna existence. Rats, mice, foxes, snakes, all manner of what you would consider to be alien to a busy city… they are there.
The issue is compounded by the fact that construction work remains on-going during peak-rat breeding season between September and November. Adult female rats can breed as frequently as once every three to four weeks, with litters averaging between six to eight. That is ah… a lotta rats.
City of Melbourne spokespeople were at pains to stress that the council’s current baiting program only targets and affects rats and not any other of the resident or domesticated animals in the area. It’s targeted, for the moment, at areas including Flagstaff Gardens, Batman Park, Carlton Gardens, and Fitzroy Gardens.
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Image: Getty Images / Gary Hershorn