Singapore Wages High-Tech Rat War

rat eat the coconut and shake it all up
AP (file)
Armed with thermal-imaging devices, closed-circuit television cameras and ultraviolet urine detectors, Singapore authorities are preparing for an eight-month war against rats.

An estimated 12,950 rats are being targeted in the $165,950 Singapore campaign, which begins next week in five neighborhoods across the city-state, the National Environment Agency said in a statement Wednesday.

More than 40 people were infected last year with typhus and leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that causes fever, the agency said. Both illnesses are spread by rats.

Environment officials will be prowling the island's neighborhoods, sewers and garbage cans in an attempt to trap and kill two-thirds of the 12,950 rats believed to be inhabiting exactly 8,631 rat holes identified across the island, the statement said.

Rodent hunters will position cameras and thermal-imaging devices outside the rat holes and anywhere else rat activity might be taking place, the agency said. The ultraviolet urine detectors will be used to track the rodents.

Five pest-control companies have been enlisted to trap and poison the rats, and then destroy and seal the rat holes.

Food stall operators and shop owners will be fined $89 if they fail to cover trash cans or leave food in the open, the agency said.

It denied that the campaign had been prompted by any dramatic rise in the rat population.

Singapore has stepped up hygiene measures since the outbreak a year ago of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which crippled the country's economy and killed 33 people in the city-state.