Never seen anything like it’: A plague of ‘white’ rats descend on Italian village
Special taskforce set up in Gattolino to tackle sudden rodent infestation
Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo. Thu 24 Jan 2019 10.14 EST. The Guardian
It is like a scene from a horror film. As a car drives along a quiet road at night, hundreds of rats scuttle across the tarmac. Video here;
For a few days now the small village of Gattolino (which translates roughly as “little cat”) has been battling an infestation of rodents. Locals have nicknamed the newcomers “crazy white rats” because of their strange behaviour. They have reportedly been jumping in front of cars and killing each other. One firefighter told a local paper: “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Authorities in the northern Italian province of Cesena have launched a special taskforce bringing together firefighters, policemen and sanitary inspectors to cope with the emergency, which was brought to national attention when dashcam footage emerged of the rats.
Francesca Lucchi, Cesena’s councillor for the environment, told local paper Resto del Carlino: “There are professionals and experts at work.”
She added that environmental technicians and public health officials are working with local police to establish whether the rats are carrying diseases.
The rats seem to have come from an old pigeon breeding enclosure – which closed last year – where they would find shelter and food. “It is very likely that the rats have run out of food from inside the enclosures and once the food was finished they came out to find more in the countryside,” the local mayor told journalists.
Piero, who works at a sports bar in Gattolini, said one other aspect of the rats’ behaviour stood out. They are stopping and turning in the road shortly after the main Gattolino road sign. “Rats are not stupid,” he said. “They know not to mess around with the little cat.”