By Emma Joliff
The rat population in rural Nelson has exploded and locals are calling it a plague.
It is being put down to a long summer and, until recently, a mild autumn – which has encouraged breeding.
“There’s a block … that I’ve had 15,000 rats off,” says Brenton McInnes.
The exterminator has been in the rat business 10 years and says he has never known the problem to be so bad.
A female rat can have five litters a year and each litter can be up to 14 babies.
The babies themselves start breeding at just a few months old.
Commercial grower Christopher Russ says this is the worst year for rats in decades.
“Probably about 30 to 40 percent of my crop has been damaged by the rats just chewing on them,” he says.
“That makes them unsellable to the market.”
Market gardener Sam Stacey says the biggest problem is with pumpkins.
“They’ll get in to them, they’ll nest in them, they’ll eat a whole pumpkin out – it’s disgusting.”
Mr McInnes says the rats are more of a problem at commercial premises like market gardens, rather than residential homes.
Exterminator Glinda Harliwich says winter is always a problem, and recommends keeping branches trimmed off roves, food in secure compost bins or on the ground to a minimum.
If overrun, call the professionals.
source: newshub archive