Rats On The Rise NOLA
Bourbon Street in New Orleans is usually bustling with activity after midnight. This week – Rats Rule. #Coronavirus
On Bourbon Street, Earthcam.com gives the viewer a live glimpse of partygoers stumbling home from the Cats Meow, bartenders locking up, cops on patrol, and various nightwalkers navigating the shadows. This week, however, Bourbon Street is ruled by rats. Rats big enough to be captured on video while they scurry around doing their rat things.
Charles Marsala noticed the rats last week during a virtual tour on his website (New Orleans Insider Tours) when he captured about a dozen of them. Rats in the French Quarter and throughout the city are usually two varieties: Roof rats and Norway rats. Roof rats are smaller and have narrower features. They live in trees and typically enter into homes from above. Norway rats are the larger, burrowing rats that live along the banks of the Mississippi River and raid nearby streets in search of food. The rats usually stay undercover and away from people, managing to stay fat and happy foraging for food in back alleys and dumpsters from the many commercial establishments sharing southern delicacies, but those establishments are closed for the foreseeable future.
Claudia Riegel, executive director of the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board said the new search for food is forcing the rats out into the open. On Sunday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that lack of traffic and restaurant closures have had unplanned consequences.
“What we have seen is these practices are driving our rodents crazy,” Mayor Cantrell said. “And what rodents do, they will find food and they will find water. That puts our street homeless in dire, dire straits. And that’s why I’m so laser-focused on it right now. Unfortunately, with these businesses being shut down, these rats are hungry.”
The city says it’s ramping up its use of rat bait in commercial areas, starting by placing rat traps on the sidewalks and bait into the catch basins on Bourbon Street and spreading out to the Central Business District and down Magazine Street. “It’s (normally) maybe about once a quarter,” Riegel said of the traps and bait. “So now our plan is to come through on a weekly basis.”
Riegel said the fight now is to keep the rats out of neighborhoods and residents need to do their part. She says it’s common to see residents place garbage bags straight on the curb without placing them in a garbage can, which is a code violation. She also says people throughout the city leave pet food outside, another way to attract rodents away from commercial areas.
Riegel said residents should not set trash bags on the street and should take other precautionary steps to avoid closer contact with rodents. Those steps include not leaving pet food outside, keeping sidewalks and yards free of food, keeping fruit trees picked and not feeding birds.
“We are seeing in some places elevated activity, and that’s why we are here,” Riegel said. “Our goal is for the next couple of months to hit it real hard here in the French Quarter and other commercial areas.” Riegel encouraged residents to call 311 if they see rats in their area because they are a danger to public health.
Stay Safe People.
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