Catching rats turns out to be an uphill task
Watching dozens of rats scampering around might make some squeamish, even if it is only on video.
But for these men, picking up rats with their hands is all in a day's work.
Star Pest Control has been engaged by the Jurong Town Council to exterminate rats that have infested the slope next to Bukit Batok MRT.
Mr Bernard Chan, the general manager of Star Pest Control, said a 22-man team was formed to tackle the problem.
"We have put bait with poison at the burrows, which will hopefully lure them," he said.
"The process will take about three to five days."
The team began operations at 8am yesterday, cordoning off the slope facing the station.
Rope was tied to the top of the slope for safer movement up and down.
At 1pm, when Mr Chan had just finished briefing the team, a rat appeared near them in a rubbish collection area.
Immediately, the team leapt into action, cornering the rat.
An officer grabbed the rat with his hands, dumping it into a cage. A good start, but there is still much more work to be done.
"The infestation covers about half a football field. We will launch a search and destroy operation when they come out," said Mr Chan, who has been in the business for more than 10 years.
He declined to reveal how many burrows and rats there are.
"From what we've gathered, the rats are rather well spread out in the area. There are many burrows, but we cannot get to the nest, which is deep in the ground," he said.
At 6pm, another round of poison-laced bait was placed by the team.
When the rats finally came out, large nets were used to capture them.
Mr Chan said that the rats are a problem as they become more aggressive and they may migrate to other areas if their population continues to grow.
"There is no point destroying the burrows because they will just dig new ones," he said.
By 10pm yesterday, they had captured more than 40 rats.
After assessing the situation, Mr Chan said they would stop for the night.
A joint statement was released by the Housing Development Board, National Environment Agency, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore and Jurong Town Council. (See other report.)
The statement said the infestation was caused by the feeding of stray dogs in the area and that the rat problem could only be resolved by not feeding the dogs.
As for the captured rats, their fate has been sealed.
Mr Chan said: "We will kill them the fastest way we know. We will break their necks."
Statement by HDB, NEA, AVA & Jurong Town Council
The land mentioned is State land, managed by HDB as an agent for SLA (the Singapore Land Authority).
Since late last year, the indiscriminate feeding of stray dogs in the area by the public has led to leftover food scraps.
This has in turn attracted rodents and given rise to their infestation.
To eradicate the rodents, multiple measures have been implemented.
These include putting up fencing to keep the stray dogs away from the common areas, conducting stray dog control operations and putting notices to remind the public not to feed the stray dogs.
Concurrently, anti-rodent measures were also carried out.
Through the multi-agency effort, the infestation had been kept under control.
Rodents will proliferate whenever food sources are available - due to improper disposal of food or leftovers from the feeding of strays. Rodent control measures will fail as long as the root cause is not resolved.
The issue resurfaced in recent months due to continuous indiscriminate feeding of the dogs in the area by feeders.
We have intensified our pest control measures to eradicate the rodents and in response to public complaints on aggressive stray dogs, we are continuing with stray dog control operations.
However, for these efforts to be effective, the feeding of stray dogs needs to cease.
Feeders should also not interfere with stray dog control operations and tamper with traps and other equipment.
The feeding of stray dogs has provided bountiful food supply for rodents and other vermin.
We appeal to the public to cooperate by not leaving food for strays. Strict enforcement measures will be taken and we hope the public will understand and support these measures.
Together, we can achieve a pleasant living environment for Bukit Batok residents.