News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Tuesday August 22nd 2017

Gnawing rat problem plagues Cape Town

Peter Luhanga

Baby rats might look cute but they grow up to be a foot long and because they breed rapidly, often infest areas where people live if they are not controlled. Photo: Steve Kretzmann/WCNAn army of rats are invading the City of Cape Town and defying all attempts to keep them under control. Cape Town’s rat problem is so bad that the long-tailed rodents have been observed tunneling through paved bitumen surfaces and damaging City property.

And residents of informal settlements have complained of aggressive rats that nibble their feet at night.

Masters of negotiating the urban environment, rats can jump up to three feet high and are adept at climbing wires and pipes.

They can grow to more than a foot long, breed prolifically and have become an increasingly familiar – and unwelcome – presence in informal settlements and the Cape Town Central Business District (CBD) in recent years.

Attempts to control the vermin require an annual budget approaching R500,000, which is spent on maintaining over 8,000 baiting stations per quarter.

In Doornbach — an informal settlement near Cape Town’s Milnerton suburb — residents complain that they have to kick the rodents off their beds at night.

Angry community leader Nopaseka Daniso said when she was in bed at night she could hear the rats rattling on the zinc roof of her shack and scurrying around inside her shack.

She said sometimes the rats even tried to nibble at her feet and she had to kick them off her bed.

“We are very frustrated with the rats. They are messing with important stuff, eating our underwear kept in drawers.”

But the problem is also a biting one for wealthier suburbs.

CBD ward councillor Belinda Walker said residents in the suburbs of Vredehoek, Oranjezicht and Gardens had complained to her about the beady-eyed beasts.

“It’s not a problem that we are going to get rid of completely but nonetheless we need to keep an eye on it,” said Walker.

In the past, what to do about the rats has been a problem all on its own. In 2008, the Chinese Year of the Rat, plans by a local NGO to capture rats in cages and then beat them to death led to howls of protest from the SPCA.

SPCA senior wildlife inspector Kira Joshua said the organisation was opposed to any suffering before death as it was in contravention of the law.

Dr Ivan Bromfield, City of Cape Town executive director for health services, said rats were a problem throughout the Metro area.

He said rats were carriers of human diseases such as the Plague, Leptospirosis, Rat Bite Fever and Lassa Fever.

Their faeces and urine could contaminate food and food sources and water supplies with other harmful organisms such as E.coli and Salmonella, said Bromfield.

Rodents were destructive “gnawers”, he said, and inflicted physical damage to buildings, equipment and electrical installations.

In each of the city’s eight sub-districts, there was a team led by environmental health assistants who did block baiting throughout the year, he said.

Bromfield said there was an annual budget of R428,691 for purchasing rodent poisons.

He said a total of 33,000 rodent baits were laid down in a business plan year and 8,250 rodent baiting stations were serviced per quarter.

The City’s health directorate had partnered with the Central City Improvement District (CCID) to work together on a rodent control programme to reduce the rat population.

CCID chief operations officer Tasso Evangelinos said CCID in collaboration with the City would “soon” fund an awareness programme which would educate businesses to implement proper waste management solutions to deter the growth of the rat population. — West Cape News

Tags: rats

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6 Responses to “Gnawing rat problem plagues Cape Town”

  1. KEITH PORTER says:

    We recently discovered a rat in one of our spare rooms, it had taken a large amount of our dog’s pellets into the room and also gnawed away a portion of the bed linen. I managed to catch the rat and destroy it but I am concerned that others may find their way into our home. In the forty years that we have been living here this is the first time we have seen a rat in the house – the only apparent place that the rat could come from would be our front street! Recently a Chinese family moved into our street and have opened some kind of a restaurant and this is causing concern. Any details you have would be appreciated. thank you (Monte Vista)

  2. Bavani says:

    Rodents cost South African companies thousands of rands worth of damage every year…but there’s a solution – have you heard of Plug-in Pest Free? The device, which is a small box that plugs into the wall socket, modulates a 50HZ electromagnetic signal that pulsates through the wiring of the building, it literally drives out rats, mice and roaches, never to return again. The signal does not affect appliances, pets or people. It employs no chemicals and requires no maintenance, no cleaning up of dead pests afterwards and does not create any odour or fumes. It has been SABS tested as well as HACCP certified for safe use in the food industry and has a lifespan of up to ten years and carries a two year warranty.
    It really does work – we used it in our office in Gardens as there’s quite a few cockroaches and rats around, at first we had a bit of activity but after a few weeks there was no sign of them – and this was last year November. You can get more information on 0861 001 063.

  3. irene says:

    y so mean to the rats…

  4. tanya says:

    I say screw the spca and beat those damn rats to death! Boooya! :)

  5. Olivia says:

    This has no effect on actual pet rats!! This is the kind of stuff that keeps people thinking domestic rats are disgusting and mean- I’ve had seven, never been bitten, and I’ve loved each and every one to death. These ratties are just trying to survive as well: if you were starving and found a food source, wouldn’t you go for it? They’re just trying to survive, like us, and if you want to get rid of them, trap them in no-kill traps and release them somewhere else… Seriously, everyone gets a bad infestation every now and again, wether its bugs or rodents- wouldn’t you rather have the furry ones? :)

  6. hello i am a big fan of rats and i even have one as a pet and they are not nice the ones that you were talking about are mean and i think that you guys should call someone to fix that for you and i am hearing a bunch of complains and i don’t wanna hear them until you guys fix it.

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