Image via www.asiaone.com
Image via www.asiaone.com

Just a few weeks ago, netizens were shocked by a picture of an absurdly huge rodent that went viral. The rodent was caught in Boomtown, USJ 11, Subang during an operation called Ops Tikus. However, Subang Jaya state assembly member Hannah Yeoh came forward and explained that the caught rodent was not as huge as it seemed, and the image was simply the result of camera angling.

Even though this served as a relief to many, others are still questioning the cleanliness of certain eateries and markets in KL which seem to be infested with rats. Just a few days ago, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) declared that five KL markets are infested with rats and are feared to be exposed to rat urine disease – a potentially deadly disease (otherwise known as leptospirosis).

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The rat that went viral and was thought to be a giant rat. Picture via reddit.com

These markets are Selayang wholesale market, Chow Kit, Pudu, Sentul and Keramat markets. According to DBKL’s senior assistant environmental health officer Mariappan Chinniah, more than 6,000 rats have been caught in the five markets since they started the operation a month ago, with an average catch of 50 rats a day.

In a press statement by consumer.org in 2010, it was reported that the standing population of rats in Kuala Lumpur was estimated at 4.4 million. In 2013, the number had increased to 6.8 million. The total number for 2015 has yet to be revealed, however, as of the first five months of 2015, a total of 13,294 rats have already been caught.

Mariappan explained that the rise in the number of rats is possibly due to dirty environment, especially in markets where rubbish and meat and vegetable remains may be dumped. Markets also serve as a strategic place for rats to breed due to the water and food waste that they feed upon and drain holes where they shelter. He further emphasised that, regardless of the initiatives done by DBKL to abolish rats in markets, the responsibility also lies on the traders and hawkers to ensure the cleanliness of their stalls.

A number of methods have been tried and tested by DBKL as well as other city councils such as MBPJ (Petaling Jaya City Council) as well as MPSJ (Subang Jaya City Council) in the recent years to reduce the number of rats. These methods have included collaborations between the councils and the community to eradicate rats as well as financial rewards and incentives to the public. MPSJ offered RM2 for every rat caught while DBKL offered RM1. In more recent news, however, DBKL now plans to increase the reward to RM 3 for every rat caught in order to increase public interest to eliminate the rodents in Kuala Lumpur.

While Malaysia’s market rates may be suffering from the threat of a credit downgrade, it seems that our market rats are thriving.

Dhabitah Zainal