Rats 'living the high life' in Choa Chu Kang

Black rat (Rattus rattus) is a common rodent found in Singapore.
Black rat (Rattus rattus) is a common rodent found in Singapore.PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/CSIRO

Residents of units on 14th and 15th floors of HDB block spot rodents; town council sets traps, among other steps

There is bad news if you think your home will not be disturbed by rodents if you live on a high floor.

Rats have been spotted recently in at least two homes on the 14th and 15th floors of an HDB block in Choa Chu Kang. And this is not that rare, with two pest control experts noting that about 20 per cent of the rat cases they have come across involve sightings above the 10th floor of a building.

Madam Chan Keok, 63, a childcare centre cook, said she saw a rat in the kitchen of her 15th-floor flat on a recent Sunday night.

She said something stirred in a container on the kitchen rack and dropped to the floor. It turned out to be a rat. "I got a shock and kept shouting," she said.

Likewise, a 42 year-old IT consultant living on the 14th floor of the same block saw a rat crawl from his master bedroom into his living room late one Friday night earlier this month.

While the man, who declined to give his name, moved to close the doors of other rooms, the rat left droppings on the floor and urinated near his main door.

Pest control experts said the rodents may be driven up to the higher floors of a building by a lack of food or because of extermination measures on the lower floors.

Mr Thomas Fernandez, chief executive at PestBusters, said rat overpopulation on the lower floors could cause a shortage of food, leading some to move up.

About 20 per cent of the 1,170 or so rodent cases reported to his firm this year involved rats spotted above the 10th floor of buildings.

Mr Rajesh Kumar, 43, operation manager at SK Pest Management Services, said rats can climb staircases, going up to 20 storeys, to find food. "It is tiring for them to climb (up) but if there is no choice, they will," he added.

About 20 per cent of the 35 rat sightings in buildings reported to his firm yearly on average involve rats found above the 10th floor.

Besides taking the stairs, rats can climb up buildings by leaning their backs against the rough surfaces of water pipes and pushing their feet off the wall close to the water pipe, said Mr John Ho, 71, group managing director at Aardwolf Pestkare.

Ms Audrey Ong, 29, business development manager at Origin Exterminators, said rats can move up by sneaking into elevators or being carried in boxes used to move items.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, Choa Chu Kang Town Council said two residents of Block 484D Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5 had informed it on Sept 15 and 16 of rat sightings in their units .

Since the start of this month, the town council has carried out "an intensive rat eradication programme in the vicinity". A recent audit by a pest control specialist did not find any active burrows in the area around Block 484D, it added. The town council has put out traps in the common areas of the 14th, 15th and 16th floors of the block, but no rats have been caught yet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'Rats 'living the high life' in Choa Chu Kang'. Print Edition | Subscribe