The increased rubbish that accompanies warmer weather provides plenty of food for the rats. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
In the rush to create new housing, the construction boom has both increased Skåne’s growing rat population and forced it out into the open, broadcaster SVT reported.
While hard numbers on the rat population are hard to come by, the Anticimex pest control agency has reported a sharp uptick in the number of rat reports over the past three years in Malmö, Lund and Helsingborg.
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The company told SVT that it responded to 6,489 rat complaints in Skåne through the first half of the year, up significantly from the 5,224 calls over the same period last year. Although the majority of complaints have been centred around the region’s largest cities, Anticimex said it has been called to chase down rats throughout all of Skåne.
Rats have been a long-standing problem in Sweden but the rapid growth in Skåne is making the issue much more obvious. Quite simply, the construction projects disrupt the rats’ habitats and force them above ground where they are more visible to residents.
“When they move above the ground, we notice them,” Anticimex’s Martin Ståhl told SVT.
The problem is compounded in the summer, when Swedes take to public spaces in droves and don’t always remember to put their rubbish in the bins. The left-behind food wrappers and pizza crust provide a bonanza for the region’s rodents.
“It’s incredibly important to clean up. If we don’t pick up after ourselves, it’s a golden opportunity for the rodents,” Ståhl said.
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Experts say that as a rule of thumb, the rat population is almost always certain to outnumber a city’s human inhabitants, meaning that Malmö has well over 350,000 rats while at least 135,000 rats call Helsingborg home and another 90,000 rats can be found in Lund.
Each rat couple can breed as many as 1,000 new rats per year.
Of course there is much more to Skåne than the rats, as The Local Sweden’s editor Emma Löfgren details in her tribute to the region.