When we think of rats in Paris, perhaps the first image to come to mind is of the cartoon rats that starred in the movie Ratatouille. They diligently washed their hands before prepping food, and even got a nice bath in the dishwasher to keep germs at bay. Unfortunately for the city of Paris, real-life rats are running rampant, and they’re definitely not engaging in hygienic practices before roaming the streets.
“Out of the sewers, the rats invaded Paris.”
— Le Soir (@lesoir) February 12, 2018
Not long ago, a horrified sanitation worker filmed a pile of rats in a garbage bin. The video went viral and shined a light on the issue that has recently been plaguing the City of Lights.
Estimates put the number of rats between 4 and 6 million in the city. The rodents are becoming more aggressive and less timid, and are now appearing in popular tourist areas, like near the Musée d’Orsay, and in the plaza in front of the Cathédral de Notre Dame. Pragmatists note that rats are able to stabilize their population according to the available resources. They argue that more rats are visible because of increased amounts of construction and the flooding Seine — both of which send them out of their holes and into the open.
But some concerned mayors in the areas surrounding the city fear the rats are becoming resistant to the poisons intended to kill them. According to WorldCrunch, researchers “believe that by regularly consuming the anticoagulant products, but in small doses, rats are gradually developing an immunity.”
While unsightly, rats are also known to carry disease (lest we forget the black plague?). Whether the actual number of rats has been increasing or not, officials are asking people to clean up after themselves and for restaurants to clean up their outdoor cafe areas at night, rather than in the mornings. They also hope that filling sewers with cement near restaurants will help keep the rodents at bay. Nonetheless, a petition entitled “Stop the Rat Genocide” circulated in 2016 and garnered 25,000 signatures. It implored the city to stop the rat extermination that was taking place.
One thing is for sure, the rats that have been running wild in the city are far less cute than Ratatouille and his friends — and far more ornery.