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Paris and Marseille in top 10 most rat-infested cities in the world

Rats are increasingly being identified as a health risk in the cities, and a Paris rat even made an appearance on Spanish TV last week

Three rats under a fence in Paris

Rats are a common sight in Paris, with an estimated 10 million of the creatures across the city Pic: Florian Bott / Shutterstock

Two cities in France are among the most rat-infested in the world, according to a study by a global ranking website.

The Top 10 ranking puts Paris and Marseille in fourth and 10th place respectively for rat infestations. This is perhaps unsurprising, given their place as the first and second-largest cities in France.

It comes after a Spanish football programme brought Paris into comedic disrepute on May 28, when a rat appeared on the screen. 

As the journalist was commentating on the controversial Champions League match between Liverpool and Real Madrid, in front of the Notre-Dame cathedral, a rat appeared on the lawn next to him, prompting disgust, fear and hilarity. The cameraman continued to film the rat up close.

Read more: France promises ‘in depth’ inquiry into Champions League final chaos

Rats have been identified as a major health risk in both Paris and Marseille, as well as becoming ‘an image problem’ for tourism.

Topito, the website which ran the study, said: “On average a rat has five births of 5-13 babies every year. And when we know that the last estimate counted 10 million rats in Paris…we’ll leave you to imagine the chaos.” 

The full ranking is: 

  1. Deshnoke, India
  2. London, UK
  3. New York, US
  4. Paris, France
  5. Singapore
  6. Hamelin, Germany
  7. Guangzhou, China
  8. Johannesburg, South Africa
  9. Atlanta, US
  10. Marseille, France

The results of the study were originally published in 2019, but have resurfaced on the internet and on French TV in recent days.

Ferreted out

Paris and Marseille are not the only cities in France aware that they have a rat problem. In December last year, Toulouse (Occitanie) tested a scheme to bring in ferrets to control the rat population.

Toulouse councillor Françoise Ampoulange, who is responsible for rivers, canals and animals, said: “Rats live all over Toulouse, as in all cities, and especially in the banks of the rivers, the Canal de Brienne and the city centre. 

Read more: Toulouse uses ferrets to control rats which now number one per human

“[Using ferrets] avoids using chemicals, which pollute the soil. Ferrets are environmentally friendly and also more humane than poison or traps, which can cost up to €800 each, including disposal of the corpses.”

The ferrets are also more efficient. Traps catch only one or two rats a day, while ferrets can flush out an entire colony of around 10 rats in 15 minutes. 

“We block the exits to an underground burrow with fine black nets,” Ms Ampoluange explained. “Then the ferrets are let in and as soon as the rats smell them, they run out and we catch them. 

“We then euthanise them with gas. It is quicker and more humane than poison.” 

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