The most populous mammal group, with approximately three thousand species, is made up of rodents, with 41 percent of the identified mammals. Rodents are a rather diverse species, stretching from the capybara of South America which weighs around 66 kg to the pygmy jerboa of Baluchistan, whose female adults weighing less than 4 gm.
Types of Rodents in Kuala Lumpur
Rodents are commonly found in Kuala Lumpur. Aside from human, rodents also take inhabits the environment with the following types:
- Guinea pigs
- Prairie dogs
- Capybaras (but not rabbits, hares, and shrews)
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Rat Infestation Scenario in Kuala Lumpur
Rats in places around the globe have long been considered serious pests. In Kuala Lumpur, in particular, the rat population was roughly calculated at approximately 7 million in 2013. That’s almost four times the city’s human population of about 1.80 million. In fact, for many people in KL, seeing rats scampering around local markets, eateries, and back alleys are a familiar sight.
But the real atrocity of the rats is not just in their alarming numbers but the deadly diseases they bring like the widely-known leptospirosis which they transmit through urine.
Beginning 2012, approximately three thousand manifestation of infection and nearly a hundred fatalities because of leptospirosis have been confirmed by the Health Ministry of KL. It has been found that most patients who contracted leptospirosis have had exposure with a rat’s urine. Currently, leptospirosis has no feasible cure or successful treatment available. If the illness is not treated early, several diseases like meningitis, damage to the kidney, failure of the liver, and weakened respiratory system that may result in death can develop in the patient.
Causes of Severe Rat Infestation in KL
Rodents multiply faster in suburban and industrial areas. Two species of these rodents living in these area are Rattus rattus and the Rattus norvegicus.
What causes the severe rat infestation in KL are the following:
- Poor waste management
- Unsanitary conditions
- An accelerated rate of urbanization
- Inappropriate planning of population centers
Because of poor waste management and sanitation practices, the number of these two species has risen to a frightening level. Nowadays, it is not hard to find one as you can spot them everywhere around suburban areas, and even in restaurants and hospitals. The accelerated growth of urbanization and the inappropriate population planning are other factors that have exacerbated the rat epidemic.
Also, the rise in the population of rats in Kuala Lumpur has increased the risk of human interaction with them. Rats living and breeding near humans pose considerable harm to health, security, and the economy.
In addition to leptospirosis, a wide variety of diseases like salmonellosis, are often blamed on rats. Salmonellosis patients suffer from diarrhea, stomach pain, dizziness, and vomiting, which can last up to a week. Among the elderly and infants, salmonellosis causes weakened immune systems and poses a deadly risk if not managed with antibiotics early on.
Local authorities have carried out wide-scale rat hunts. Nevertheless, the multiplication of the rats’ population, which continued due to the poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions, the hunt did nothing to minimize it.
Considering the high birthrate of female rats, it is predicted by experts that if no control steps are taken, the population of rats would double or even triple within a few years. From bating to poisoning and even shooting, there are countless rat management strategies. Nonetheless, the removal of rats’ nesting area and sources of food remain to be the most successful strategy one can use.
This method works best by trapping or sealing any openings in your home that would allow rats to infiltrate your area. Another best way one can do is by educating the people regarding the risks that these rodents pose to one’s health, and what could be done to avoid those. It is important that proper hygiene and sanitation are emphasized to everybody.
Authorities are expected to be the major player when it issues arise regarding public health, however, as part of the public, everyone has the responsibility to do proper sanitation and hygiene. Authorities may lessen, if not completely eradicate, the huge impact of rats to the public by conducting regular inspections on whether local food businesses practice proper hygiene and sanitation. Rats are known to stay and survive in areas where food is readily available. By eliminating these sources, we are doing one step in controlling their population.