It's like a scene from a horror movie. As a car drives down a quiet street at night, hundreds of rats scurry across the asphalt.
A special task force has been established in Gattolino to deal with the sudden infestation of rodents
For a few days now, the small town of Gattolino (which roughly translates to "kitten") has been battling a rodent epidemic. The locals have dubbed the newcomers "crazy white rats" because of their strange behavior. They have reportedly been jumping in front of cars and killing each other. A firefighter told a local newspaper: "I've never seen anything like this before."
Authorities in the province of Cesena, in northern Italy, created a special working group that brings together firefighters, police and health inspectors to deal with the emergency, which was brought before national attention when images of the rats emerged.
Francesca Lucchi, Cesena councilor for the environment, told the local newspaper Resto del Carlino: "There are professionals and experts working."
He added that environmental technicians and public health officials are working with local police to determine if rats are carriers of disease.
The rats appear to have come from an old pigeon breeding enclosure, which was closed last year, where they would find shelter and food. "It is very likely that the rats have run out of food inside the enclosures and once the food was finished they went out to look for more in the field," the local mayor told reporters.
Piero, who works at a sports bar in Gattolini, said another aspect of the rats' behavior was highlighted. They stop and turn onto the road shortly after the main Gattolino road sign. "Rats are not stupid," he said. "They know they shouldn't play with the little cat."
Original article (in English)