Rats on Tooting Common

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StreathamHill100
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Rats on Tooting Common

Postby StreathamHill100 » Mon Mar 15, 2021 2:31 pm

Having lived close to Tooting Common for the past five years I've often spotted the odd rat running across a path whilst out walking or running around the Common, and just put it down as fairly normal given the surroundings.

However, on a visit to the Common last weekend with my daughter, who wanted to go and look at the ducks on the lake, I must have counted at least 10 rats running around the area by the lake, climbing up tree branches and swimming in the lake. My daughter was pretty freaked out and keen to leave straight away. 

A few rats here and there seems normal, but the large number that seem to be congregating by the lake seems like a bit of a health hazard especially given the close proximity to the children's playground. Wonder if Wandsworth Council are aware of the problem and plan to do anything about it?
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sarah.johnson
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Re: Rats on Tooting Common

Postby sarah.johnson » Mon Mar 22, 2021 6:45 am

I would be concerned if I were you and would definitely contact the Council and the Friends of Tooting Common group - if such a thing exists? If there are ducks on the lake the increase in rats may be as a result of people feeding them which will have increased as a result of lockdown. It would be good if signs could be put up to deter people from doing this as not only does it create a problem with vermin but bread is actually harmful to ducks and geese. (If there is a cafe in the area perhaps they could sell little bags of duck food...). Good luck!
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Needcoffeenow
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Re: Rats on Tooting Common

Postby Needcoffeenow » Mon Mar 22, 2021 7:37 am

The other concern would be Weil’s disease, which is associated with standing water frequented by rats. This may be a point to raise with the local authority. Agree bread lying around isn’t going to help.
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Green1940
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Re: Rats on Tooting Common

Postby Green1940 » Mon Mar 22, 2021 12:26 pm

I’m just back from Tooting Common and was shocked by the number of rats we encountered both within he playground and around the lake. I’ve lived in the area for 10 years and have never seen anything like it.
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Sarah McDermott
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Re: Rats on Tooting Common

Postby Sarah McDermott » Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:26 am

I too have seen more rats than normal on Tooting Common (and to a lesser extent on Wandsworth Common). I have asked Cllr Steffi Sutters and council officers for their advice. Here it is - and a sensible and measured approach I think:

 Rats are particularly attracted to the Commons as they like water (we have our lakes and lots of water on the Common at the moment), and most importantly, because so many people feed the birds and leave bread, seeds and other food it encourages them to remain.
  Brown rats are actually a very important part of the decomposition process, scavenging dead and weak animals, food waste left behind by visitors, eating dog poo, and helping the ecosystem by clearing dead things and detritus. Rats themselves are predated on by birds of prey such as sparrowhawk and owls, both of which we are lucky enough to have on Wandsworth Common, so this keeps the population in some sort of balance. While people continue to feed the birds on the Common, the population of rats on the Common will remain, and the regular/increased feeding is what is causing the rats to become so bold. Tackling this is a very difficult thing to do as it seems to be a favourite past-time for so many people. 
 Both commons are bisected by multiple railway lines which provide fabulous wildlife corridors and provide a sanctuary for rats both from predators such as dogs and also additional ample food stuffs both natural and from food waste litter thrown over boundaries.
  Nothing effective and worthwhile can be done to “control” rats because they are widespread and numerous which makes any kind of attempt to be rid of them complex, continuous and expensive but more importantly if we want to see viable biodiversity rich habitats then rats are part of that, they fulfill an important niche. All the while the food sources remain, even if we were able to reduce numbers in the short term the populations would rise again rapidly. 
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oskemen9
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Re: Rats on Tooting Common

Postby oskemen9 » Mon Mar 29, 2021 6:38 am

That seems to me a bit of a stock reply and more focused on Wandsworth common. I was in Tooting common last week with a friend who has a dog and young children and who has spent much of her lockdown life in Wandsworth common, and she was shocked and revolted by the rats, in other words despite spending enormous amounts of time there, she had never come across rats in Wandsworth common. Everyone I know has noticed the seeming surge in Tooting common. They are in large numbers even in the playground. I think a more tailored approach needs to be taken, and probably more people need to write in...
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IrishMummy
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Re: Rats on Tooting Common

Postby IrishMummy » Mon Mar 29, 2021 8:04 am

Grim. It’s not new though. I remember my sister talking about this ten years ago. An interesting response from the council. It doesn’t explain why I have never seen a rat on Wimbledon Common in almost ten years living there.
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misty32
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Re: Rats on Tooting Common

Postby misty32 » Mon Mar 29, 2021 11:53 am

I've lived just off Wandsworth Common for 11 yrs but spend more time on Tooting Common nowadays due to kids school and sports clubs. In 11 years I've never seen a rat on Wandsworth (not saying they don't exist), yet I see them every time I go to Tooting Common. I am happy to write to the Council - I agree they need to realise Tooting is a bit out of control vs the others at the moment. Tooting does get a lot more waterlogged than Wandsworth and the pond level is very close to the pathway.. if they say it's because they love water, could this be why they are straying into the playground and pathways?
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StreathamHill100
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Re: Rats on Tooting Common

Postby StreathamHill100 » Mon Mar 29, 2021 12:34 pm

Interesting to see all the responses about the big increase of rat sightings on Tooting Common of late. Speaking to local friends they have also clocked this too.

One mum friend was telling me about a rat being spotted climbing around her daughter's packed lunch, and others, which were left on a table whilst they were doing a sports camp on the Common. When things like this happen it definitely seems like the rat population needs looking at again by Wandsworth Council.

Enable manages parks and open spaces on behalf of Wandsworth Council, if others would like to raise a concern with them. You can find their contact details online. Sadly I can't post them directly here as the site won't allow me to.
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oskemen9
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Re: Rats on Tooting Common

Postby oskemen9 » Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:41 am

I’ve got it on good authority that this is the best place to write in with concerns, if enough of us do hopefully something will be done:
If you have a questions about any of Wandsworth’s greenspaces, please email parks@enablelc.org or call 0203 959 0060
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