Compiegne. Rats proliferate on the quays: “We are going to put the package”, promises the town hall.

Compiegne. Rats proliferate on the quays: “We are going to put the package”, promises the town hall.

The rats have taken up residence under the Jeanne-d’Arc bridge – Credit: Fabrice Alves-Teixeira / Oise Hebdo

With their little snouts and whiskers that vibrate when they smell the air at the exit of their den, they seem quite harmless. But rats and their proliferation on the banks of the Oise in recent weeks are a problem taken very seriously by the municipality. Seized of the question, the municipality promises measures “without delay”.

“Our goal is to ensure that this does not escalate. Whenever such an issue is notified to us, we take very quick action.”, responds the office of the mayor of Compiègne. Today the old Pont Jeanne d’Arc (where the Maid of Orleans was arrested), serves as a refuge for rodents. With its grated underground passages, the place is a place of choice for mammals which, by digging small galleries under the gratings, can come and go from the underground passages to the Agricola quay which runs along the Oise. “The problem with rats is a hygiene problem, they can be vectors of disease”, details the municipality. Actions are however “carried out all year round” in Compiègne says the town hall. But sometimes that’s not enough. When anticipatory actions are not enough, it is necessary to send “heavy artillery”. The town hall then calls on a delegated company that manages the city’s underground networks. “We are going to ask them to exterminate the sector without further delay”warns the municipality.

A frenetic reproduction

“Punitive” actions, this is for example what Compiègne had to do a year ago. “We had experienced a rise in water levels and the banks of the Oise, in particular the Songeons park, had been literally invaded, recalls the town hall of Compiègne. So we had to close the park for a few days, the time to settle the issue.. According to the city, the “rat extermination actions are common” in Compiègne and are made sector by sector.

While dozens of mammals potentially live in this residential and office area, the town hall wants to prevent the situation from getting out of control. “The problem with rats is also that they reproduce very quickly”, completes the town hall. The spleen reproduces itself from the age of 6 weeks and can be fertilized every 3 to 5 days. Gestation is very fast: between 21 and 23 days. Litters range from 6 to 14 pups and a rat can produce up to 6 litters per year. Do the math… But rats, especially via their urine, can transmit diseases to humans. The best known is leptospirosis, a fatal bacterial disease in 5 to 20% of cases according to the Pasteur Institute.

At the individual level, simple actions are possible to curb the proliferation, such as avoiding throwing waste that could serve as food for rats, not giving them food of course, or not placing garbage bags on the sidewalk: rats can rip them apart very easily and then have a blast. Controlling rat populations is a problem common to all cities of a certain size.

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