Rat complaints soar in Amsterdam

The rat population in Amsterdam seems to be soaring - last year public heath service GGD received 17 percent more complaints about the rodent than in 2014, Het Parool reports.

Most reports of rats fond in homes came from the neighborhoods Staatsliedenbuurt, De Pijp, De Baarsjes, Oud-West, Indische Buurt and Oosterparkbuurt. Old homes and old sewer systems in these areas give rats the space they need to enter homes. "There are examles of people who saw rats in the kitchen or in the toilet bowl, Jan Bujs, environmental scientist at GGD, said to the newspaper.

Neighborhoods like Noord, Nieuw-West and Zuidoost are also dealing with rats, though here they are mostly found in courtyards and parks. Here the GGD blames edible litter and food people leave for ducks and herons as the reason behind the increase.

Other reasons for the increase in rat complaints include the mild winter giving the rodents a better chance of survival and the launch of a Public Space hotline in 2014. This hotline, where people can report everything from excess rubbish on the streets to poorly maintained plants, makes it easier to report rats, which may make people more willing to do so.

The GGD can't say exactly how big the rat population in Amsterdam is. "Formerly the GGD calculated one rat per resident, in Amsterdam that would amount to more than 800,000 rats. New York counts 50 rats per report, which amounts to one rat per four residents. In Amsterdam that would equated to 122,350 specimens, or one rat per seven people. But we do not know."

Among other things, rats spread Weil's disease through their urine. This disease causes kidney or liver inflammation which could be fatal.