An infestation of rodents is bringing a new kind of rat race to Australia’s eastern cities.
The construction boom, poor waste management and colder weather over winter have brought the usually invisible rodents out onto the streets.
Residents and business owners in Sydney and Melbourne have noted an infestation of vermin over the past three months.
Sam Yehia, from Sydney’s Best Pest Control, said major construction work under way was a key contributor to residents noticing the rodents more.
“At the moment, there’s a lot of building work disturbing them and they’re moving,” Mr Yehia told The New Daily.
“Basically you’re disturbing where they’re living.”
The number of complaints of rats in the harbour city has been rising at a steady rate for four years.
It is so bad that the City of Sydney council announced it was doubling the number of rat baits to try and curb the growing population.
But Mr Yehia said the attempt would have little effect on the number of rats.
“They’re just reactive policies. They’re reacting to what the media is saying,” he said.
“It will have a limited effect because it comes down to how many bait stations you’re putting down and how often you’re getting it done.”
Currently, on the New South Wales Food Authority’s website, there are 155 active pest penalties.
“When it comes to commercial, most restaurants are also more reactive than proactive,” Mr Yehia said.
“One reason is that it’s an added cost they don’t want. Second is the rats start to go where to food sources are.
“In Sydney itself, at the moment you’re getting an increase.”
‘Get used to it’
It’s not just Sydney.
Simon Dixon from Exopest said construction was also causing the rats and mice to scurry out into the open in Melbourne.
With construction on the nine-kilometre Metro Tunnel not expected to finish until 2025, he said Melburnians should get used to the rat plague.
“We’ve got five to 10 years of tunnelling, so the rats have to find new homes,” he said.
“We’re throwing tenants out on the street effectively.”
In Melbourne alone, there are estimated to be four rats to every person.
Getting rid of the rodents is obviously hard, but using baits and storing food properly will help, Mr Dixon said.
“We’ve been living with rats since the first rat plague, but we have to be aware there are more around now,” he said.
“Make sure you do the baiting and store food properly. The biggest problem is the lanes and bins. Rodents are good climbers and they’ve got a food source in the lanes.”
The best thing to do though is just embrace the rats, he said.
“Just get used to it, they’re here to stay,” he said.
“They’re pretty friendly, but they do jump. They’re agile, so look out.”