Oct 18th, 2019, 12:40 PM

Paris's Second Plague

By Ariane Petit
Rat feeding of a left over starbuck. Image credit: Unsplash, Mert Guller
How the French Government is Dealing with the Growing Rat Problem in the Capital

Just a month ago, the Banksy painting displayed near the Centre Pompidou in central Paris was stolen. Inspired by a French, graffiti artist, Blek le Rat,  the painting portrayed a rat with a scarf hiding his face and holding a box cutter between his paws. However, with his disappearance, you don't have to look far to find another rat in Paris.  Just on a short night stroll along the Seine, you're sure to find more, which is why Paris is again trying to overcome their time old rat issue.

We often reference New York City as a sister city to Paris. Not only do their most famous monuments share the same architect, Gustave Eiffel the man behind both the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty,  but they also share a much more common problem – rats. In effort to combat the growing infestation, the mayor of the 17th arrondissement of Paris even decided to pay a visit to the Big Apple to meet with politician Eric Adams, the President of Brooklyn, to learn about techniques used by their city to fight the rodent problem.

Paris's rat invasion dates back centuries. The Paris City Hall finally decided to take action against this scourge. In 2018 there were 4950 anti rats operations whereas in 2017 there were only 1700 – doubling the amount of operations. According to the City Hall website, the rat invasion is due to incivility and waste in public spaces. The Seine's flooding in January 2017 can also be blamed for these higher numbers, as it pushed the rats out of the sewers to the surface. 

With this increase in numbers, rats have become a common sight around Paris. They are in public parks, the tunnels of the metro and even have invaded the most touristy areas, such as Les Tuileries  –causing stampedes of tourists running from them as the rats then dine on their hard-won croissant. 

To combat the rat problem, the City Hall has installed new trashcans around Paris. These trashcans prevent rats from entering the bin as they have airtight containers that will leave more room in the garbage, but also keep rats out of the trash. Most recently, the Paris City Hall has implemented the use of dynamite to get rid of rats. The exterminators use a mix of oxygen and butane that is injected into the nests dug by rats. In addition to killing the rats, it will destroys the nest and allows the surviving rats to flee. The standards in the EU have also changed, which has banned some chemicals that were used in the past to kills the rats. This has only contributed to the ever growing problem.

An example of the new sealed trashcans by Invalide, Image credit Ariane Petit 

But let's get to the real thought on your mind: what do I do if I see a rat? Well, if you encounter a rat, dead or alive, there is one solution. Simply download the app "DansMaRue,"  available on both iPhone and Android. On the app, users can then drop a pin on a map to let city officials now there is a rat in the area. The city will then take care of the problem. According to the Paris City Hall website,  if you are a victim of rat infestation, you also have to declare it via a form which can be found on the website of the Paris prefecture

The reality is that rats are not only a  problem in Paris. Italy, Tokyo, Chicago and New York all have the same rat issues. Despite city efforts, rats are everywhere and make their home in every large megalopolis around the world. So let's try to bond over our shared rat frights.

Have a rat story? Tweet it to us at @ PeacockPlumeFR. .