Rat Invasion Warning as 10,000 Tonnes of Trash Pile Up on Streets

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Paris has been warned of a potential rat invasion as a result of the ongoing garbage collector strike which has seen tonnes of trash pile up on the streets of the city.

Earlier this week, animal toxicologist and specialist in rats and invasive species Romain Lasseur warned that the trash worker strike, which is now entering its third week and has seen some 10,000 tonnes of uncollected garbage pile up on the streets of Paris, has resulted in a “change in the behaviour of rats” in the city.

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

The Paris police prefecture also raised the alarm over the issue, saying in a statement on Friday: “The concentration of waste, especially food, puts the population at risk, poses a public hygiene problem and promotes the proliferation of rats, vectors of diseases.”

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

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

“It’s horrible,” a local bakery saleswoman said. “You realise if pests go into a pastry shop, what will it do?”

The growing rat issue in Paris has also broken into pop culture, with French satirical songwriter Pierre Perret releasing a song on Friday decrying the miserable condition that the city has been reduced to, singing: “In Paris, disgusting Paris, only rats are happy”, “Poor Paris, ugly Paris, in what state they put you.”

However, the rats apparently also have their defenders, with the Paris Animals Zoopolis (PAZ) organisation staging a protest of their own 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 congeners in distress, even if 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 the evils in France.”

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

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

Leftist radicals and agitators in the protests have begun using the piles of trash to set makeshift bonfires throughout the city.

While the strike has greatly exacerbated the issue, socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo has long come under criticism for her government’s inability or unwillingness to keep the streets of Paris clean.

Last year, for example, a viral hashtag on social media “#saccageparis”, which translates to “trashed Paris”, emerged as locals posted pictures of trash piling up across the famed tourist destination.

Rather than taking responsibility, the socialist mayor blamed the “far-right” for spreading the hashtag.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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