“Eeek what is that!?” The giant rat, or as I would like to call them Rattus Schwarzeneggerus, is a new breed of rat that has been plaguing Alexandra, a township in the north of Johannesburg; yes right next door to your Sandton home, Mrs Jones. These rats are actually the common brown rat that has just hopped onto the gym craze, growing to sizes akin to a small dog. Don’t be surprised to find a rat bench pressing your ‘guard’ cat when you return home from yoga. According to reports on the Sunday Times, these rats are multiplying at a rapid rate across Johannesburg
Is your waste disposal creating the perfect diet for Giant Rats?
According to the report, the fact that rats are adapting and learning not to eat certain rat bait, coupled with the abundance of food due to Alexandra residents’ improper waste disposal, may be the reason why these giant rats grow to that size. The report suggests that the increase in giant rodents is due to the high protein diet from food waste and the vitamin content obtained from pet food which the rats often steal. Like a bodybuilder guzzling down supplements, these rats grow exponentially, with one weighing in at 661g (the common brown rat usually weighs around 300g).
I picture this giant rat retorting “Rat poison for who? I’m on a strictly high protein diet, boet!” The giant rat is a true omnivore and will eat almost anything, but cereals are known to form a substantial part of its diet. Martin Schein, founder of the Animal Behavior Society in 1964, found that the brown rat’s most-liked foods included scrambled eggs, cooked corn kernels and raw carrots, a meal plan of which any personal trainer would be proud!
Rats of Alexandra
This is where Mr Giant Rat would pipe up and say “Gains before drains.” Brown rats commonly like hiding in drains and sewers, scurrying away at the sight of people. These giant rats however are notorious for their lack of fear for people, and are known for brazenly strolling into people’s homes and having a nibble or two on the residents while they sleep. They have been tormenting and biting residents of Alexandra at a rate of at least a dozen incidents a day, and in these cases these fearless rats were not only biting out of self-defence, but also feeding on people (in many cases, babies).
Similar to peak hour at the local gym, one resident reported that in a night there would be more than 20 rats inside their home, saying that they sleep with the lights on out of fear of these malevolent guests.
Giant Rat Behaviour
Brown rats (in this case the giant rat), live in large hierarchical groups. I imagine a soapie called “Keeping up with the Rattus” where poor old Becky mouse wasn’t invited to any snooty events such as high tea with the Joneses due to her social status. When food is scarce the same occurs to rats in the lower social order. When a large portion of the population is exterminated, the remaining rats with a higher “social status” increase their reproductive rate and ultimately restore the old population level, thus maintaining the giant rat population.
It’s quite evident that we have helped give rise to these super rodents. Through improper waste disposal we have given them the perfect conditions to bulk up and proliferate. The availability of food sources, places to hide and breed with little to no prevention has given this once meek pest the confidence to fearlessly stroll about in our homes.
Fear not, for there is still a way to feed these gym-rats humble pie and stump their confidence. To prevent a rat infestation, here are a few easy tips you can implement:
- Ensure all your waste is sealed and properly disposed of in bins with tight-fitting lids.
- Once pets have eaten, make sure that pet food is stored away.
- Check for water leakages around the house.
- Tidy around the house and clean up any spillages.
- Keep your garden debris free and regularly trim trees that are closeby to your building to prevent entry