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Deadly game for rats

PUBLISHED: 15:11 10 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 March 2010

IT looks like a fun seaside toy for rats.

But it's a deadly game, if they play it.

For while the human beings enjoy themselves on the traditional seafront rides just up the road, the vermin have a challenge of their own in the gardens and cliffs next to the beach.

IT looks like a fun seaside toy for rats.

But it's a deadly game, if they play it.

For while the human beings enjoy themselves on the traditional seafront rides just up the road, the vermin have a challenge of their own in the gardens and cliffs next to the beach.

If the pests find their way into the rat-sized circular holes at the base of the Royal blue rubbish bins, they could find a special meal set down for them.

This though is no tunnel of love in a fairground . . . this is the tunnel of death.

The council's executioner has laced this tasty dish with poison and already a number of rats have been taking the bait.

Suffolk Coastal council received a number of complaints this summer about an alleged plague of rats which was terrifying visitors to the seafront, scaring parents and children.

In the absence of a pied piper, the district council initially set down poison in those places where most rats had been seen – until it hit upon the idea of installing the rat-killing litter bins.

Rats hang around bins like teenagers in seafront shelters.

They have been placed throughout the Spa Pavilion Gardens and cliffs, helping to cut down the pest population – much greater due to favourable summer and autumn breeding conditions than in previous years – by attracting them and then poisoning them.

A council spokesman said: "We have installed over 20 new bins around the Felixstowe seafront area which have built-in compartments in the base which can be used to bait rats.

"These are completely separate from the bin itself and are not disturbed when the bins are emptied, and equally are designed not to be touched by the public.

"The bins have been installed over the last week or so and some dead rats have been found as a result.

"We expect these bins to make a significant impact over the coming months as the rats will start using the bins more often as alternative sources of food disappear as winter draws in."

The rats were seen many times during the summer months, scavenging for food around the beach huts and even on the beach. One man told the Evening Star he had been sitting in the Spa gardens this week and had seen eight rats running about.

Most have been spotted in the evenings in the gardens near the bottom of Bath Hill – between the Long Shelter and the back of the Spa Pavilion theatre – where there is ample cover for them to live – and also at The Dip.

Suffolk Coastal has sent letters to all hut owners urging them to make sure that they properly dispose of all food scraps and rubbish that might attract rats, and not to store food in their chalets.

They have also set up a Rat Hotline and people can call the environmental health team on 01394 444353 if they spot a rat.

Rats have not had the best press in Britain over the years, since 1348 when rats with infected fleas brought the Black Death to England. Half the population died as the plague spread through London.

Since then rats have become much-feared creatures, with tales of them attacking babies, spreading disease and living in sewers. It is said that you are never more than 20ft from a rat in Britain.

TV presenter Roland Rat tried to change people's views of rats in the 1980s, but only succeeded in annoying as many people as he pleased.

WEBLINKS: www.britannica.com

www.discovery.com/stories/history/blackdeath

RAT FILE

n Dark animals with pointed noses and naked feet and tails

n Most rats are around eight inches long with a tail of the same length

n If food is plentiful, litters of up to 12 are born every few months

n There are 500 different types

n Many rats can climb, jump, burrow, or gnaw – helping them gain entry to places inaccessible to many other small mammals

n Can destroy poultry, game and crops

n Carriers of variety of disease

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