Commuters at the Taipei City Hall MRT station had an unpleasantly memorable journey on Friday last week, when they spotted a rat running around near an exit and repeatedly jumping on an unlucky passenger.
The rodent’s appearance caused a commotion, sending people screaming and running to get away from the scampering creature.
A Taipei resident, surnamed Chiu (邱), who witnessed the incident posted about it online.
Chiu said that he had been waiting inside the station’s No. 1 exit when he saw the rat, which was about half the size of an adult’s outstretched hand.
The rodent seemed intent on attacking one man, since he jumped on him three times, Chiu said.
“The rat then headed down the stairs and dashed inside the station. At least five or six people saw the whole thing and everyone was really scared,” he wrote.
Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC), the company that operates the Taipei MRT, confirmed the incident after reviewing surveillance camera video.
“The rat was not attacking the passenger, it was trying to escape by running inside the station. Likely, the rat was just as terrified by the encounter as the man was,” a TRTC spokesperson said.
It has been reported that the MRT stops where rats are most frequently found are Taipei Main Station and Jiantan Station, which is near the Shilin (士林) Night Market.
“On average, we capture about five to eight rats on the MRT each month,” the spokesperson said.
TRTC general manager Tan Gwa-guang (譚國光) said the company regularly cleans and empties the trash cans at all MRT stations, adding that the sewage pipes running through the rail system are fitted with mesh wire to keep out rodents.
Wang Chin-yue (王琴月), a contractor who does pest control for the Taipei MRT, said that since food and drinks are not allowed inside the stations, there is hardly anything for rats to live on.
“Most rats come in from outside. In the summer, they like to sneak inside to enjoy the air-conditioning, but they are just passing through, they do not live inside the stations,” Wang said.
“We keep the few intruders that do come in under control with cage traps and sticky boards. We also conduct monthly checks to ensure that all stations are clean and rat-free,” she said.