North Berkeley residents experience rat influx in neighborhood

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Residents of North Berkeley have noticed large amounts of rats in their neighborhood, leading to intervention from the city of Berkeley’s health services department.

Approximately six months ago, multiple residents of North Berkeley started to notice a large amount of rats not only in their own homes, but also around other parts of the city. Christine Simon, a resident of North Berkeley, said she and her family initially found it entertaining when they heard rats on their roof but then found the situation less amusing after they discovered rat mites in their home.

Simon said her family had to evacuate the home for three weeks because she and her other family members were getting bitten by the rat mites. According to Simon, city public health officials visited her neighborhood, but she said that little action has been taken so far.

“I would recommend the public health people do a study and try to control the numbers of rats,” Simon said. “In history, rats have carried deadly diseases and it’s something they should look into before it gets out of control. … Somebody should be responding in a public health way and figure out a way to control it.”

Simon added that she has seen several of her neighbors watch the rats in the neighborhood together in what she referred to as a “rat party.”

Manuel Ramirez, manager of the city of Berkeley’s Environmental Health Division, said the division receives a significant amount of calls regarding rodents. According to Ramirez, the division responds to every complaint it receives and investigates every site to make recommendations based on what it finds.

“The issues that lead to rodents — most are due to the surrounding environment and how people keep their property,” Ramirez said. “(Rodents are) not specific to one area in Berkeley, not even just in Berkeley — it’s across the Bay Area.”

Jessíca Jiménez covers schools and communities. Contact her at [email protected] and and follow her on Twitter at @jesscajimenez_dc.