RIVERSIDE residents have received letters from the council warning them of rat sightings.
The letters, dated October 16, say that the Environmental Health Department has received notification regarding sightings of rats in the area.
Residents have been asked to inspect their homes and gardens for signs of rodent activity and ‘carry out suitable treatments to eliminate them.
The letter was accompanied by a leaflet and a list of pest controllers operating in the area.
“Treatments may be carried out relatively cheaply by purchasing bait from local hardware shops,” wrote Environmental Health Officer Karen McConvie.
“The occupier of each property is responsible for treating their own property.
“Care should be taken is any poison is placed around the property.”
The circular adds that in order to deter rodents from the area, it is essential that all household waste is disposed of in the black bin with the lid securely closed and that no bags of waste are left to the side or allowed to accumulate in gardens.
“Any bagged waste left in gardens or yards will attract vermin as they provide a readily available food source.
“It is also important to keep any overgrown vegetation cut back and gardens well maintained, as rodents may find harbourage in the undergrowth.
“Should residents wish to feed wild birds, please do so only using receptacles that prevent rodents from accessing the food.
“Ideally it would be best to refrain from feeding birds, in order to discourage rodents from the area.
“Should you have any pets and feed them outdoors, please ensure that all food is removed from the area after feeding.”
And therein lies the rub - one friendly soul has been routinely leaving bread and other food scraps out for birds - and other wildlife, it would appear.
Crusts and heels can regularly be seen left on a grass verge at the boundary wall of the disused former home known as ‘The Cedars’ - despite warning signs, and it is not just avian visitors who are enjoying the leftovers.
“Someone has been leaving bread and other food items along the grass verge up the lane towards Moylena Grove and the Mill Race Trail,” said one irate resident.
“This person may think they are doing a kindness to the birds, but it is the rats who are getting fat.
“Someone chalked a message on the wall, warning not to leave bread as it was encouraging rats, but yet it still appears.
“It’s all very well someone coming up and dumping their unwanted food outside other people’s houses, but it’s the people living further up Riverside who are now having to deal with sightings of rats.
“If they want to feed the birds, they can do it in their own gardens and they can use a bird feeder.
“Everyone knows how important it is to help birds during the winter, but it is the rats that are helping themselves.”
McMcConvie has requested the assistance of local people ‘in the best interests of the health of all residents in the area’.
Along with fleas and other parasites, wild rats are known to carry and help transmit illnesses such as foot and mouth - which brought Britain’s countryside to a stand still in 2001.
And they have also been linked to more obscure conditions including cryptosporidiosis - a parasite-borne intestinal disease.
Weil’s disease is perhaps the best known disease spread by rats.
Also known as leptospirosis, which can cause flu-like symptoms, including chills and headaches.
In severe cases it can lead to organ failure and bleeding.
Weil’s disease is spread by contact with soil or water contaminated with the urine of certain wild animals, including rats.
The condition can be treated with antibiotics.
Rats are also a known carrier of the bacteria that can lead to salmonella.
They can also carry and transmit Tuberculosis and E.Coli, which can be passed on through their faeces.
Such diseases can be spread to humans, pet dogs and cats and to other livestock.
Rats can additionally cause damage to food stuffs and buildings.
Other advice includes to inspect properties, ensuring that there are no entry holes for rats to gain access into the home, around waste pipes from the kitchen and bathrooms, central heating pipes and air vents.
It is also recommended that drains are covered and that manholes are intact and that doors are kept closed to prevent access.