New Zealand is being plagued by a rat infestation. Pest controllers have reported that the population of this rodent has doubled this year in all major cities across the country, according to . So, does this really seem to be a problem scurrying around in Tauranga? Reporter Shauni James talks to local pest controllers and residents about current rat problems and encounters.
Some Tauranga people are having trouble with rats at their homes - and one pest controller says this is probably his busiest season in five years.
There has been an explosion in rat numbers in both forests and urban areas across the country, according to Forest and Bird, with "cat-sized" rats spotted in Titirangi, Auckland, terrifying locals.
Pestworks Tauranga owner Patrick Allen said this year rodent issues were coming up across the board, and included residential homes, apartments and schools. He said this was probably their busiest season in the last five years.
Allen said with the mast season and the temperatures getting cold, more rats were being spotted in houses.
They had been getting a lot of calls, and even had people ringing in the evening at the weekend, he said.
Allen said on Friday alone they booked in five new jobs, and probably about 15 to 20 last week with new clients.
His tips included keeping grass on down on the property, not leaving rubbish out, cutting any overhanging branches back by at least a metre, and blocking any obvious signs of entry around the property.
"Most clients are not doing anything particularly wrong, their homes are a nice warm environment for rodents.
"If in doubt call a pest controller."
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Forest and Bird spokeswoman Megan Hubscher told NZME 2019 has been described as a "mega mast year" which means native trees were fruiting heavily. Once this would have fed the bird population, but Hubscher said it was now feeding rats instead.
"We are seeing some really alarming numbers coming through from our trapping groups around the country."
Hubscher also said that not only is the rat population growing, their size has increased as well.
She emphasised that even though there is rat problem in New Zealand urban areas, Kiwis should spare a thought for defenceless native animals in forests.
Pyes Pa resident Robyn Van Den Hurk said about two weeks ago she had three mice in the kitchen and a large rat came inside.
She said the rat was incredible.
"We first thought it was a possum that had gotten underneath the van and in our cupboard.
"It kept waking us up at 3am, it sounded like it was tearing something apart."
She sent her husband to have a look, and he said it was not a possum but a huge rat.
They bought a large rat trap, put bait down and managed to get him, she said.
Van Den Hurk said usually the rats stayed in the shed on the property, and this was the first time they had seen a rat so close.
Mice came up through the pipes in the motor home on their property "looking for warmth and food".
She said their son and daughter-in-law lived in a tiny home next door, and they could hear mice in the walls.
A pest controller should probably be contacted for that as it was not easy to get them out of the walls, she said.
"A couple of years ago rats bit into a water pipe in the farmhouse and ate through the pipe.
"We had to pull all the coating off the house to fix the piping.
"It's just one of those things I suppose you need to keep on top of and hopefully end before they make too much of a mess. It can be very costly if you ignore them."
Stacey Walker said she recently caught two mice in traps, which had been feeding on dog biscuits in her wardrobe and keeping her awake at night trying to steal them from the dog bowl.
She caught a mouse in the garage with rat bait, then switched to a mouse trap.
She heard scratching around her dresser and caught another one with a trap and then found a dead baby mouse. She now has traps in her garage and wardrobe.
Walker said she had mouse problems last year in the wall, so found out how they were getting in, blocked it off and put rat bait in.
"My dog thinks it's great, whenever I say 'Where's the mouse?' she's on the hunt.
"There's no mice to be heard now trying to drag the biscuits out of the steel bowl."
How to protect your home from rats
The Ministry of Health provides tips people can follow to control these pests and keep their family safe.
Baits and traps
• Poison is an effective way to control rodents and can be purchased from supermarkets and hardware stores. Always read and follow the instructions.
• Rat and mouse traps can also be used and are available from supermarkets and hardware stores too.
Removing food sources
• Store rubbish in secure metal or thick plastic containers with lids.
• Do not leave plastic rubbish bags outside overnight, if possible.
• Keep the inside and outside of your home clear of food scraps and rubbish.
• Do not leave extra pet food out.
Reducing their habitat
• Remove weeds, overgrown grass, rubbish and other materials that could provide hiding places for rodents.
• Secure any gaps or cracks in your home to stop rodents getting in.
Source: Ministry of Health