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Posts Tagged ‘paris rats’

Romantic Rats Ruin Parisian Parks

Rats in ParisMost folks like to do something special for New Year’s Eve – shoot off some fireworks, drop in at Disney, maybe even brave the crowd in Times Square to watch the ball drop. But one prime celebration location is suffering from an ages-old infestation that the most romantic city in the world just can’t get a handle on – the Parisian rat population.

We all remember from our history classes that the nasty little rodents spread the Bubonic plague – in fact, recent examinations of history have proven that the Black Death of the 1300’s that ravaged close to half of the population of Paris was not spread by rats and other rodents, although most people still assume they were to blame. Given their history, it’s no surprise that, despite the Pixar film, most rats are still not welcome at Parisian dinner tables.

Yet, despite the city government’s pledge to completely “de-raticize” the Renaissance tourist attraction in 2014, it’s apparently more visibly infested than ever before, forcing the closing of nine popular parks in the City of Light – including the famous Parc du Champ-de-Mars, home of the Eiffel Tower. In fact, animal control officers say this is the worst the city has seen in almost 40 years.

And there’s a reason that we said a visible problem – it appears the rats are overrunning the above ground city because of a huge overpopulation below ground. Now there’s something you don’t want to hear, especially if you were planning a trip to the city’s historic catacombs. And the most popular plan of attack? To drive the rats back into the sewers – not, we’re thinking, a viable solution to stopping the spread of a disease, should that recur.

The problem is apparently, two-fold – new European regulations, meant to mirror ones in the United States, changed the way rats were poisoned, as the old ways could also lead to water contamination as well as being accidentally ingested by curious pets and children. So now the rats have to seek out the poisoned bait in enclosed boxes – a lot harder draw for the rodents who can easily find a smorgasbord fit for the Rat King in open garbage pails.

In fact, in the weeks since the new regulations took effect, not a single rat has ventured into the boxes of death – and the ready supply of food means the rats can continue to reproduce at an alarming rate. Rats can mate every 3 weeks, producing a litter of 4-5 baby rats, and those newly born babies can get pregnant themselves within 6-9 weeks.

What’s worse – even if the rats in Paris’ past (Rattus rattus) didn’t spread the Black Death, their distant Asian cousins– Rattus norvegicus – which was responsible for the Modern Plague in the 1860’s, arrived in the French capital about 200 years ago and are now the dominant species as well as known spreaders of salmonella and swamp fever.

Still, the Parisian animal control people do believe the rats have a place in their city – just out of sight. When properly maintained, the rats work well as composting agents, devouring waste that would otherwise need to be disposed of, and their furry little bodies – they also work great as pipe cleaners. Once again proving that every living creature has its own God-given purpose. Who knew? 🐭

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