MORE than 5,000 complaints were made in Sheffield about rats over the past year – and the figure is increasing.
While the vast majority referred to homes and businesses, council officers were called to deal with vermin in Norfolk Heritage Park, Abbeyfield Park at Pitsmoor and at Frecheville Pond.
They are currently tackling infestations at Graves Park, Hinde House Wood, Pitsmoor Park and the Firth Park clocktower.
Rats carry parasites and other harmful organisms that lead to food poisoning and the potentially fatal Weil's Disease. They can also cause damage to property.
The rising number of complaints – the total in Sheffield is expected to hit 6,000 this year compared with just over 3,000 five years ago – is in line with national trends.
But a report to councillors yesterday made clear the burden being placed on the authority's environmental services, which offer a free pest control operation.
As well as the cost, the whole process of handling call-outs across the city can be very time consuming, said pest control manager Neil Wilkinson.
Part of the reason for the increasing demand in Sheffield is thought to be a better system to receive complaints but in general flytipping, litter, sewer defects and milder winters are playing their part.
In Sheffield, extensive demolition and building work has opened up the potential for rats to move in and there has been no systematic drain sealing for a number of years until recently, councillors were told.
Co-operation with agencies such as Yorkshire Water and Sheffield Homes is seen as vital and the public can help by ensuring that rats – as well as mice – cannot reach food left for birds.