If rats make you squeamish, you may want to brace yourself for some unwelcome company in Rome. Rome has a well-documented rat problem. In 2013, the city spent 400,000 euros battling the rat problem. In 2014, hearings were halted at Rome’s court of appeals due to an infestation. In July 2015, a group of 10-20 rats were sighted at the Trevi Fountain (which was undergoing restoration) each night.
In the past week, the problem appears to have grown. Rats sightings were typically only a night-time occurrence, but suddenly rats are being sighted in broad daylight. The increase in rat sightings is creating local concern over health implications as well as the potential for lost tourism revenue. One restaurant owner was recently forced to close their doors at 8pm after their street became overrun with rats. Instead serving dinner, the restaurant kept the doors closed to keep the rats from taking over the restaurant.
Local authorities are attempting to address the problem, but it is impossible to know exactly how many rats call Rome home. Research has shown that the rat population may have reached 6 million – twice the number of residents in Rome. The rats have flocked to Rome in search of shelter as the temperature has dropped. The rats feast on municipal waste, which commonly can be found in uncovered trash bins on city streets. Additionally, some historical rat removal processes are being abandoned due to environmental concerns (such as rat poison).
Today, technology is beginning to catch up with the rats. Interactive solar powered traps can alert residents to catches in real time with a text message or email. Residents hope the problem will subside with continued advances in technology as well as with increased involvement from local authorities.
(The Local – Italy, 1).
“Scared of Rats? Rome epidemic will creep you out.” The Local (Italy). 15 January 2016.