Prague authorities crack down on vermin
The other day Prague saw the beginning of a six-month programme of “deratizace”, meaning rat extermination, and to my ears an amusing word. The Czech name for somebody who works in the field is “deratizátor”, which I guess could be loosely translated as rat terminator.
As for how many rats there are in the Czech capital, a Prague Waterworks and Sewers official, who did not wish to be named, told Hospodařské noviny there could well be over five million. It seems an odd thing to want to remain anonymous about, but in any case if that figure is right there are roughly five rodents per human inhabitant in the city.
“Rats with wings” are also an issue in Prague at the moment. Pigeons deposit an estimated 500 tonnes of droppings on the capital annually, causing extensive damage to buildings. For the first time in some years, the authorities have decided action must be taken.
One step planned is a ban on feeding pigeons in Prague – they say that could lead to a 10- to 20-percent decline in numbers.
One proposal is to kill them humanely using gas. The other is to release them in a different location, though that approach has of course one obvious drawback – we’re talking about pigeons here, and what creature is more likely to home?
Another solution could be to use birds of prey, though the average hawk simply wouldn’t consume more than two or three a week. The birds apparently get used to one another; after a while you’ll see hawks sitting beside pigeons on ledges, one expert told the papers.