The ‘army’ of rats keeps Lijnbaansgracht residents in his grip

ANP photo/Sabine Justin

“I understand these animals too, it’s like home delivery,” says Fleur van den Berg, who lives in Lijnbaansgracht. Several garbage bags, bins and other rubbish were placed on the tree on the canal, at the intersection with Vijzelgracht. Locals hung posters on the tree warning of rats and urged residents not to put their trash next to the tree outside the designated times.

“In vain,” says Van den Berg. On Wednesday evening I counted eighteen mice in one parking spot. “Look, in the nineteen years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen maybe one or two rats a year. Now it’s kind of an army. Recently a bunch of wires were bitten in my car and the neighbor’s car a bit further away. A while ago I found a bowl of chips in the lid. I think. That the rat thought he’d found a nice new burrow. You can’t blame the rats either, it’s mecca for them here with all that trash on the street. One rat is fine, but I won’t let my cat go out in a pack like that anymore.”

Trash bags

The neighborhood has been in contact with the municipality since November 2020, but the rat epidemic appears to be on the rise. The number of reports has been increasing across the city for years. In 2020, GGD Amsterdam received 5,441 reports of rat annoyance. In 2021 there will be 7,329, a threefold increase compared to 2019. GGD notes that the pandemic has had an impact on this. Since people are in the house more, they produce more waste and they would have noticed more annoying mice.

“And there are a lot of people who randomly put their trash on the tree by the water, this is a rat party,” says Guus Vloedgraven, who has an office on the ground floor in Lijnbaansgracht. “GGD has now put up two mousetraps. A little bit for the shape, it’s pointless.”

GGD acknowledges the problem, but states that it is not responsible for rat control. However, the organization can provide information and advice. But at the end of the day, the residents themselves are to blame, according to the spokesperson. “We’ve been there three times, but as long as people put out the trash bags, the mice keep coming. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

Resident van den Berg recognizes this: “As long as the bags were placed near the tree on the wrong days and times and were not enforced, the water is carried out to sea.” What is surprising in the neighborhood: the tree on the canal is an official place to put household waste. “The municipality is opposed to the arrival of an underground container, which seemed to me an excellent solution. But they are afraid of landing, says Floydgraven.

Taste: collect behind the door

Fear of relegation is not unjustified, according to a municipal spokesperson. Fragile walls with a lack of space make the channel unsuitable for underground containers. “As with many other vulnerable canals in the center, there is very little space and it is too weak for traffic to have to empty the containers. A full garbage truck can weigh 11 to 12 tons, which is an attack.”

However, the municipality has begun experimenting with a different method of garbage collection in the center, says the spokesperson: collection behind the front door. “Residents can schedule a garbage collection date and then the small electric cars and freight bikes will pass or be transported by water.”

The collection experience behind the front door was created due to the scarcity of space under and above ground and because the municipality can no longer drive heavy vehicles over the sidewalk to collect waste. All of this should also lead to a cleaner street scene, because it is no longer necessary to put waste outside. The idea is less traffic and less nuisance from waste (garbage) and therefore from insects.

Prevention is better than fighting

A cleaner street is also in line with the preferred strategy of pest control, who mainly advocate a preventive approach. ‘Preventing rat annoyance is better than fighting it’ can be read on Meldpunt Pests Amsterdam’s website.

Van den Berge endorses the experiment with collecting household waste behind the front door. But she thinks it is better to see than to believe. Anyway, you yearn for a cleaner street, without mice. like before. “If it works, my cat can at least get out again.”

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