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Of rats and mice

November 23, 2005
Last night I was running for the train after my Finnish class was done and just before I went up the steps to the platform in Leppävaara (a suburb of  the city of Espoo), I saw it… I’ve heard about them, but have never seen them until yesterday – a rat! Better yet, I got off at my stop 15 minutes  later and there it was – a huge mouse!
For years now there has been talk of problem rats in parts of Helsinki. I have to say I am not entirely informed on the story, but I’ve heard about it in passing. The tabloids have also painted their scenarios of hoards of rats taking over the city (the tabloids kinda take it up a notch to scare the crap out of people). I recall reading one line something to the effect of, "Yeah, I took my son there so he could learn how to use a gun (for hunting), we just shoot them because it is so easy…" Yuck!  There was a picture in one of the local papers a week ago of rats and ducks eating bread near some body of water in the capital area, so it really is true…
I’ve heard (and now believe) that one root of the problem is people who feed birds. People all over Finland do their duty during the dead of winter and feed the birds when it is really cold and hard for the birds to find food. (Birdlife Finland announces these kinds of things to the press, it’s pretty cool!) But there are also those people who unwittingly feed rats by putting out a whole pile of food, thinking they’re feeding the birds. It’s the rats that are likely stealing the show (and the food). We’ve decided not to feed the birds until the dead of winter, I hope we will be spared the appearance of rats in our yard <cringe>. Maybe we won’t feed them at all…
Some people are really terrible when it comes to properly disposing of garbage or they just throw it on the ground, which is probably one reason why I saw a rat in Leppävaara and mouse in Espoon Keskus. Both of those train stations are a dismal sight, garbage, food, newspapers, cigarette butts, broken bottles, you name it’s probably on the platforms of these stations. Despite howls of disapproval from the public in the local newspapers, not much has been done to clean up the new breeding grounds of rodents in the capital area.
The rats and the mice would make their homes elsewhere if their food supply was taken away.
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