Rat catcher: March infestation is ‘biggest in 30 years’
A PEST controller says the hundreds of rats that have made their home in March town centre is the “worst infestation I have ever seen”.
An estimated 120 rats live in a burrow between hairdressers Snip and the Young People March (YPM) playground, next to the City Road car park, with hundreds more in other areas around the car park.
Tom Bannister, of ATB Pest Control, from March, was called to YPM to eliminate a wasp nest in their roof when he spotted the rodents running around the car park.
“It’s unusual to see so many rats running around outside near to people. We normally see this many rats on a farm and not in a town centre,” he said, “It’s the biggest infestation I’ve seen in 30 years in business.
“Hopefully their days are numbered - it should only take about 10-14 days for the poison to take its toll on the rats.
“They will run 300 metres for food which gives them a massive radius to go. It’s a health risk especially with the supermarket next door and I don’t care who’s responsible it needs to be sorted.”
The pest control expert said the abnormally warm weather would have played a big part but felt the heart of the problem laid elsewhere.
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“The problem is caused by our throw-away nature. People are happy to throw their rubbish on the ground which gives rats food,” he said.
“A big problem is that rats can get into the cars and nestle in the bonnet, chewing away at wires and the owners don’t know anything about it.”
Jane Manders, who works at YPM, first complained to the council five months ago and was glad to see some action.
She said: “At first they weren’t too bad, but now they have got more confident and this morning when I went to unlock the gate there were two of them just looking at me and I couldn’t unlock it.
“I used to park near to the bushes in the car park but since one jumped out at me I park on the other side.”
Stacey Hewitt runs Hair Innovations in the Snip building and says the rats haven’t affected her business.
Ms Hewitt said: “I can hear the rats between this building and the playground next door but they don’t bother me, maybe at night when it’s dark and you don’t know what’s running round your feet.”
Mr Bannister’s wife Kathleen said: “I’ve got grandchildren who go to Young People March and if they were to play netball outside, fall over and put there hands in rat urine it would be horrible if they caught diseases.”
Sheila Oakey, from Doddington, would normally take a shortcut from the car park to the river through private property but explained the owners had shut the fence stopping people going through as it was too unsafe.
A Fenland District Council spokesman said: “The council has been informed of an increased number of rat sightings on the open land by City Road car park. Sightings often increase at the start of the colder seasons as food sources become scarce.
“We are working with our pest control contractors, who regularly survey the area, and since the sightings have increased treatment levels around the car park and open spaces.”
CONTACT: If residents or business owners identify rats at any other locations please report it to the Council on 01354 654321.