A “big” rat greets a reporter on the White House lawn as mild winters and a booming population fuels Washington’s rodent problem.
Washington DC has a growing rat problem and the White House has not been able to deter vermin from entering its vicinity.
The four-legged pests have been seen roaming the streets, eating rubbish and generally horrifying people working in the US capital.
This week, journalists working at the White House confirmed sightings of brown rats on the White House lawn.
Fox News reporter John Roberts tweeted: “I am standing in our @FoxNews standup location on the @WhiteHouse North Lawn and notice in my peripheral vision something moving at my left foot.
“I assumed it was one of the ubiquitous WH squirrels. But no… it was a big brown rat.”
So – I am standing in our @FoxNews standup location on the @WhiteHouse North Lawn and notice in my peripheral vision something moving at my left foot. I assumed it was one of the ubiquitous WH squirrels. But no….it was a big brown rat.
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) December 17, 2018
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins said she could “attest” to the rats claim.
Gerard Brown, a program manager at the DC Department of Health, said the creature was likely one of many rats “flushed out” of its burrow by heavy rain, The Washington Post reported.
He told the paper: “Water doesn’t kill them or reduce them at all – rats can swim for as long as a week – but what it does do is make it difficult for them to find food.
“That draws them out, too.”
Mr Brown said a mature female Norway rat could give birth to one litter – consisting of 10 infants – per month.
Washington DC’s spiralling rat problem has been fuelled by mild winters and an increasing human population, which has surpassed 700,000.
Usually, extended cold weather would cut off the animals’ food supply and limit the rodents’ ability to breed – but this has not been the case in recent years.
And the increasing in population means more restaurants and rubbish, which provides more food for the rats to feast on.
The state government’s pest control department has been taking a record number of calls.
Health Department employees Andre Pittman and Gregory Cornes have been tasked with tackling the infestation.
“Rats adapt to everything. They can be like geniuses,” said Mr Pittman.
One security guard at a Washington office block said: “The rats would scurry over employees’ feet as they left the building after sunset.
“We finally moved all garbage cans away from the door because that’s where they would feed and party.”
A video that went viral in September showed a rat pulling a fire alarm and causing an apartment block in the state to be evacuated.