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Rats in lockdown?

Were the rats in Amsterdam in lockdown too? What effect did the lockdown have on their lives?

More household waste was generated during the lockdown, probably because people were spending more time at home. This peak in the amount of household waste was followed by an increase in the amount of rat activity. There always fewer rats about in autumn and there are various reasons for this, one of them being the cooler temperatures.

The red areas on the maps show which areas produced more household waste after the introduction of lockdown in March 2020 compared to 2019. The main reason for the increase in rats was the increase of more (edible) waste in the streets. Fewer humans in the streets and less traffic also meant that the rats became bolder and were therefore spotted in the streets more often.

However, it should be noted that every bit of green space in the city has seen a significant increase in visitors. People who were often at home may have noticed some subsidence of the pavement slabs in front of their houses. This is often caused by a hole in the wall or a broken sewage pipe. The sand disappears through these openings, but rats might also emerge through them, busy undermining the pavement.

All in all there was increased reporting of rat activity. People were paying more attention to their personal living environment and this meant that home owners, residents and the urban management department became more aware of the causes and specific locations of rat problems. There is no animal like a rat to confront people with the consequences of their own behaviour. After all, a rat problem generally serves as a sign of negligence for city dwellers. Signs of rats are often indicative of something going wrong.

Rat activity is reported to the GGD Amsterdam via: and via 14020, the public authority’s general phone number.

Source: Jan Buijs, City of Amsterdam


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