Rémy the rat, star of the hit film Ratatouille, set in Paris, may have given rodents a good name, but not with the city’s residents.
Now a mayor in one of the French capital’s arrondissements has launched an interactive map to show how rats have infested his district.
Geoffroy Boulard, who launched signalerunrat.paris on Monday, accused the city authorities of failing to address the problem and said not all could be blamed on public litter-bugs encouraging the rodents.
He told Le Parisien he decided to act after learning that a local crêche was infested with rats. Within a few hours, dozens of residents in Boulard’s 17th arrondissement in north-west Paris had reported numerous sightings, dead and alive.
“The presence of rats in public space is worrying and has become more and more serious. We had a creche surrounded with rats dead and alive. Nobody is taking their responsibility. It’s a matter of public health. The city has to react to this sanitary problem. It’s not just the 17th [arrondissement],” Boulard told BFMTV.
J'étais ce matin l'invité de BFM Paris pour annoncer le lancement du site signalerunrat.paris lancé par la Mairie du 17e arrondissement de ParisIl s'agit d'une plateforme de signalement en temps réel de la présence de rats sur l’espace public. Dès réception du signalement, nous nous engageons à transmettre l’information aux services centraux de la Mairie de Paris et nous actualiserons le site mobile afin d’informer les habitants sur les actions prévues.Une ligne dédiée a également été créée : 01 44 69 17 86.
Posted by Geoffroy Boulard on Monday, 11 June 2018
The local mairie, or town hall, has also opened a rat “hotline” for those who do not have access to the internet. There is also a poster campaign in local parks and on municipal notice boards reminding people not to throw litter on the ground and to clean up after their picnics.
Boulard said he hoped the campaign would put pressure on City Hall to act.
“If it’s a priority for them then they should be working harder. As soon as a local resident or passer-by makes a report we will go back to City Hall and the interactive map will be updated each time they intervene. A small shovel will replace the drawing of the rat (on the map). That’s if they intervene.”
He added: “I don’t wish to remain passive about this.”
A pair of rats can produce up to 32 offspring a year, which in turn can produce a colony of more than 900 animals in the space of a year, given enough food and the right conditions.
While City Hall organises regular eradication operations, Stéphane Bras, a pest control expert, said it was not enough. He said members of the public, shops and private companies all had to do their bit.
“Buildings aren’t hermetic. If one is treated the rats move to another. The mairie has campaigns but these are necessarily supported by other private organisations,” Bras said.
Bras added that there were not necessarily more rats in Paris than in other cities, but that they were more visible.
“When they’re in the sewers they’re useful. When they come up to our level, they can do damage … and in terms of image, for a city like Paris, or New York, to see rats running in the streets has an effect on the population and tourists that is disastrous,” he told Le Parisien.