Pest control experts were yesterday drafted in to a Derry housing estate after residents called for urgent action to tackle a rat infestation.
The families living in Knockena said they were now afraid to let their children play in the garden or to open windows in case the rats appeared.
The residents also pointed out over 30 holes which have appeared under a fence which separate the Buncrana Road estate from a retail park.
Video footage obtained from residents shows a few of the rats in the estate.
Local people said that they were now seeing rats in the estate on a daily basis.
There have also been multiple sightings in gardens, including climbing on garden furniture, under vehicles, in wheelie bins and in the grass areas of the estate.
Several residents told the Journal said the alarm was first raised several weeks ago by their neighbours in the estate. One lady said: “I was out hanging my washing and a fellow in another house knocked out the window and said, ‘watch. there’s rats’.
“I had never seen them until this week- and they are rife.
“Because I have to go round the alley way I am not even putting my rubbish out.”
Another lady described how she saw them crawling over the chairs in her garden.
“They are coming out more in this weather,” she said. “I am getting the kitchen painted at the minute and I can’t even open the window or the door to let the paint dry because I don’t want them coming into the house. I won’t go out in the yard, I’m terrified.”
The residents expressed concern that there were a lot of young children in Knockena, including kids with special needs some of whom they said might not realise the danger.
One local man said: “It’s not good. Some of the rats are really big. There’s a health and safety issue here and it needs to be addressed.”
The families at Knockena said they have lodged complaints and reports with Apex Housing the local council.
A spokeswoman for Apex responded yesterday that pest control were being sent out.
She said: “Apex were made aware yesterday, 22nd April, of an issue with vermin to the rear of the properties backing onto Whitehouse Retail Park. Housing and Property Services officers visited the area in the afternoon and called with a number of tenants.
“We have written to the tenants in the area asking them to be mindful of vermin and what could attract them and have employed the services of a local pest control company who will be on site this afternoon. They will deal initially with the immediate issue and report back their findings. All recommendations will be followed up and the area monitored. We will continue to support our tenants in resolving this issue.”
A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council said that the matter is being dealt with by Apex.
“The Council does not offer a pest control service but provides advice and information to the public,” she added.