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Oh, rats!3 min read

Jun 9, 2023 2 min

Oh, rats!3 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes
A rat scurries into a discarded fast food bag left at a carpark in Onehunga.

By Dylan Jones (university student)

 

Rats have become an unwelcome sight around Onehunga, as town officials point to people littering as one cause of the rodent boom.

One hotspot, an outdoor carpark on Waiapu Lane, is a central point for accessing grocery stores, schools and Onehunga Mall. Upon investigation, the Onehunga Community News spotted seven rats in a 30-minute period, with several scurrying to and from a discarded brown bag from a fast food restaurant. This is a clear indication that someone discarded the bag under bushes at the carpark, inviting the rodents to feast on the leftovers.

Onehunga Town Manager, Amanda Wellgreen, says people definitely contribute to the rat problem.

“People eat in their cars and throw their food scraps away incorrectly,” she says. “The rats are getting so much nutrition from the scraps, that bait stations don’t get a single bite. People have got to learn to take their rubbish home, or throw the disposable bags in the nearby dustbins, to prevent the rat infestation from getting worse.

“Rats prefer to eat human food, than the bait,” says Amanda.

She says a pest management contractor installed bait stations in the carpark three times in the last 12 months. The most recent four-week programme of bait stations was extended by three weeks after the contractor found high levels of bait consumption during weekly checks. Rats take the poison from the bait stations then retreat to their nests to die, but the programme finished on the 16th of May, when the contractor reported no further bait was taken from the stations.

But the problem went beyond the carpark, with members of Amanda’s team submitting reports to the council about spaces between Waiapu Lane and Pearce Street that are also infested with rats.

Auckland Council Regional Arborists and Ecological Manager, David Stejskal, says the carpark was part of 16 complaints about rats in Onehunga over the past year. Bait stations were set around Onehunga and some were successful, with the bait being taken by rats.

“Two customers who raised work orders were advised of the outcome. They said they had not seen any rats in the area recently and were happy with this update,” says David. “If there are significant issues with rats in public places, we ask members of the public to report this to us on 301 01 01.”

Waikato resident, Dave Shaw, visited Onehunga on April 23rd, when he saw three swarms of rats near the corner of Nielson and Galway Streets.

“I used the Snap Send Solve council app to notify them of the issue,” says Dave. “On the 3rd of May, I hadn’t heard anything so I followed up with a phone call and they said they would send a contractor to look at it.”

Auckland Council confirmed with the Tokoroa resident on May 5th that a contractor would place bait stations in the area.