Wed, Aug 27, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Rats, shoppers battle for space in Taichung street

INFESTATION:Rats have been startling shoppers on Yizhong Street, with some blaming the stores’ habit of leaving their trash outside and a lack of trash cans

By Tsai Shu-yuan and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

One of Greater Taichung’s most popular commercial streets seems to have become a haven for rats, with the furry creatures seen scurrying around in the presence of shoppers and complaints about the problem piling up.

Store owners in the city’s Yizhong Street Commercial Area (一中商圈) said scampering rats have become a common sight in recent months, startling shoppers. Some shoppers react by screaming, while others just move out of the way and let them pass.

A proprietor blamed the infestation on the leftover food and garbage, as there are no trash cans in the street.

Some stores also place their garbage out in the street after closing, allowing rats to feed on it, the proprietor said.

Tsai Hung-lung (蔡鴻龍), a borough warden candidate for the Democratic Progressive Party, said that when he visted the area over the weekend, he saw a big rat — about 20cm long — make its way along the street. Some people screamed, but nobody tried to capture it, he said.

Tsai took a picture of the rat to record the scene.

“Yizhong Street is now plagued with rats. Foreigners coming here for snacks complain that the area is messy and full of trash,” said Yang, who operates a hair salon in the neighborhood.

“When my employees and I go out to buy meals, three times out of 10, we will encounter a rat. [The rats] not only appear at night, but also during the daytime. Taiwanese are used to seeing rats around, and proprietors are reticent about dealing with the problem,” he said.

Tsai said store owners are reluctant to use rat poison, because they “do not want dead rats showing up on their premises.”

“Some stores even place food outside, far from their premises, to lure away the rats,” he added.

Tsai said that food vendors usually leave their leftovers outside, so rats come out at night and go through the garbage.

“There are no trash cans here, so people just toss their garbage on the ground. All these are sources of food for the rodents. Before the garbage trucks come to take away the trash, the rats already had their fill,” he said.

Chen Hsin-chih (陳信志), the area’s borough warden, said that more than 10,000 people visit Yizhong Street each day.

“We have about 500 vendors here, and about 40 percent of them sell food items... The borough warden office will start giving out rat poison and will organize a public health and hygiene drive,” he said.

He said that there are no trash cans in the area to avoid affecting pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

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