Rat invasion warning as 10,000 tonnes of rubbish piles up in the streets

Paris has been warned of a potential rat invasion following the ongoing garbage collectors’ strike which has seen tons of rubbish piling up on the city’s streets.

Earlier this week, animal toxicologist and rat and invasive species specialist Romain Lasseur warned that the garbage collectors’ strike, which is now entering its third week and has seen some 10,000 tonnes of uncollected rubbish piled up on the streets of Paris, has led to a “change in the behavior of rats” in the city.

“They will walk in garbage cans, reproduce there, and leave their urine and excrement there. There is a worrying health risk for garbage collectors and the general population, especially with leptospirosis,” warned Lasseur.

The Paris police headquarters also sounded the alarm on the issue, saying in a statement on Friday: “The concentration of waste, particularly food, puts the population at risk, poses a public health problem and promotes the proliferation rats, vectors of diseases. ”

PARIS, FRANCE – MARCH 17: Bins overflowing with rubbish on the streets as garbage collectors continue their strike in Paris, France on March 17, 2023. Garbage collectors have joined massive strikes across France against reform plans retirements. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

According to some estimates, there are up to six million rats living in Paris, about three times the human population residing in the so-called City of Love.

“It’s awful,” said a local bakery saleswoman. “Do you realize if pests get into a pastry, what will it do?”

Paris’ growing rat problem has also burst into pop culture, with French satirical songwriter Pierre Perret releasing a song on Friday denouncing the miserable state the city has been reduced to, singing: “A Paris, Paris disgusting, only rats are happy”, “Poor Paris, ugly Paris, what a state they put you in.”

However, the rats apparently also have their defenders, with the organization Paris Animals Zoopolis (PAZ) organizing a demonstration on Saturday to denounce the “cruel” killing of what they described as “sensitive, intelligent, playful and empathetic beings”.

“Rats are empathetic animals eager to help their fellow creatures in distress, even when they should not benefit from it,” the group said. “As soon as we talk about rats, we hear everything and anything. No, rats are not responsible for all ills in France.

Members of the Paris Animals Zoopolis (PAZ) association hold signs during a rally to call for the protection of liminal animals (rats, pigeons), in Paris on March 18, 2023. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP) ( Photo by BERTRAND GUAY /AFP via Getty Images)

Members of the Paris Animals Zoopolis (PAZ) association hold signs during a rally to call for the protection of liminal animals (rats, pigeons), in Paris on March 18, 2023. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Pictures)

The garbage collectors’ strike, which came in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, has also fueled violent protests in Paris and other cities across France since Thursday.

Left-wing radicals and protest agitators have begun using the garbage heaps to light makeshift bonfires across the city.

While the strike has greatly exacerbated the problem, socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo has long been criticized for her government’s inability or unwillingness to keep the streets of Paris clean.

Last year, for example, a viral social media hashtag “#saccageparis”, which translates to “Paris ransacked”, emerged as locals posted photos of trash piling up in the famous tourist destination.

Rather than take responsibility, the socialist mayor blamed the “extreme right” for spreading the hashtag.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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