Rampant rats running amok
Have you had rats at your home?
Vermin are running rampant across Christchurch, with city council staff dealing with a four-fold jump in callouts.
But the end of the great rat infestation could be near with numbers for this year predicted to fall below the record achieved last year.
Council staff blame the earthquakes and their after-effects for the spike in vermin-related callouts.
That rate has nearly quadrupled in the last two years - from 51 callouts in the 2010-11 year to 193 in the 2012-13 period.
The ongoing effects of the earthquakes and liquefaction damage to rat burrows and riverbanks, compounded by a mild autumn were largely responsible, a council report says.
"Harbourage for vermin is also readily available in deserted and abandoned properties . . . exacerbated by the absence of people and traffic, leaving some commercial and residential areas undisturbed, allowing vermin to be established."
Compliance manager Lee Halstead said a mild autumn meant there was an abundance of trees bearing fruit.
"When there's lot of food, there's lot of vermin."
Most complaints were reported in eastern suburbs, which could be because there were more abandoned properties but also less baiting and trapping.
Staff usually do not tackle the pest problem themselves, instead encouraging homeowners to employ baiting and trapping methods to catch vermin.
Halstead said the number of callouts for this calendar year should fall short of last year's.
In 2011, there were 93 complaints but this doubled to 186 in 2012. As of yesterday, there had been 118 complaints in 2013 and she predicted that would peak at about 150 by year's end.
Meanwhile, there has been an upside in the latest figures from the council's enforcement unit, with noise complaints from parties falling sharply.
Fewer central city bars and venues played a part in that, but staff had also noticed the shifting of communities was a factor.
There were fewer complaints in areas like Aranui, Avonside and New Brighton where big numbers had moved, "whereas areas like Addington and Riccarton continue to show noise-complaint increases due to demographic and social changes".
In the 2012-13 year ending June 30, staff were called out to 387 complaints about noisy parties - compared to 1119 complaints in the previous year. Callouts related to radios, stereos and televisions were down 347 on the previous year.
The rise of construction across the city has fuelled nearly double the noise complaints, with 372 compared to just 197 in the previous year.
THE PROBLEM WITH RATS
Rats can cause diseases with the most common, leptospirosis, being transmitted from rat urine.
Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey said any outbreak usually followed flooding.
It normally presents as a fever and, if left unchecked, can potentially lead to liver and renal failure.
Another "theoretical risk" is a condition known as "rat bite fever" which has similar fever-like symptoms but this was quite unusual, Dr Humphrey said.
There had been no noticeable increase in rat-related illnesses in Canterbury, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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