If you suffer from musophobia, a fear of rodents, this would be a scene out of your worst nightmare.
A Parisian trash collector recently lifted the lid on a dumpster near the river Seine and unexpectedly uncovered a heaving pile of rats. Scores of the urban pests were climbing all over each other inside the plastic bin and leaping up the container’s slick sides as they attempted escape.
The worker, a city employee identified with the pseudonym “David” by the French news agency Le Parisien, encountered and captured footage of the rats on Dec. 9, 2017. He released the video to sound an alarm about the threat that increasing numbers of street rats pose to municipal workers, Le Parisien reported on Jan. 21. [Sting, Bite & Destroy: Nature’s 10 Biggest Pests]
Rats have lived alongside people in urban areas and farms for hundreds of years, and the rodents’ populations worldwide number in the billions, according to The New York Times.
Paris hosts its share of rats — more than its share, by some estimates. Rat populations in Paris have boomed in recent years, with the city facing what was described as the worst rat invasion in decades in 2016, France 24 reported in December of that year. At the time, an estimated 4 million rats called Paris their home, amounting to nearly two rats for every person. The swarms were so bad that nine public parks and gardens were temporarily shut down to deal with the problem, according to France 24.
But one year later, Paris’ rats seem to be on the rise again. “David” told Le Parisien that rats were increasing in number in all the arrondissements (neighborhoods) around the Seine, perhaps due to local restaurants disposing of their trash in garbage bags instead of inside plastic bins. This provides the rodents with a ready supply of food, Le Parisien reported.
Rats are hosts to numerous microbes that can be harmful to humans, including Salmonella, E. coli and Clostridium difficile, which can all cause dangerous infections in people.
Recent flooding of the Seine — with water levels now reaching higher than they have in a decade — could also be responsible for displacing rats from their underground homes and driving more of the animals to the surface to nest and forage, Stéphane Bras, a spokesperson for the Paris pest control agency CS3D, told Le Parisien.
Flooding was also responsible for a rat swarm in southwestern Myanmar in June 2017, when thousands of the rodents descended on villages after recent heavy rains drove the animals from their cave nests. Villagers killed more than 1,000 rats in a single day.
The rats in the Parisian dumpster were also quickly dispatched after they were filmed, with “David” and his fellow trash collectors crushing the bin — with the rats still inside — in their garbage truck, The Telegraph reported.
Original article on Live Science.