A PHARMACY exposed to a rat infestation in Wodonga has backed a link to roadworks in High Street.
Wodonga Pharmacy manager Debbie Grimmett said what was happening was unlike anything she had ever experienced.
“I talked to the landlord of the business because he’s been there a lot of years and he’s never encountered this problem either,” she said.
“It has to be coming from the roadworks.”
Contractors moved into High Street in mid-January to start the $4.3 million realignment of Elgin Boulevard.
Many rats have since converged on the city’s retail heart, especially Coles.
Coles and pest control company Rentokil have spent almost two months tackling the problem.
Initially every one of several dozen bait stations in the store was being visited by rats on a daily basis, dropping to just three earlier this week.
Numbers could not be confirmed, but it was believed at least dozens of the rodents have infested the immediate area around Coles.
The Border Mail was told up to 30 rats had been detected at the pharmacy alone.
Mrs Grimmett denied that, pointing out there had been only a few at the store.
But she said that did not mean there was not a problem in the immediate area.
Mrs Grimmett said the pharmacy was taking the matter “very, very seriously”.
“The rats aren’t nesting in our store at all, it’s just that they’re in Coles and because we’re in such close proximity they’re coming to us and dying,” she said.
“That’s the problem.”
Mrs Grimmett said the only comparative event recently was the insect invasion of a few years ago when the Border had a cool, wet summer.
“As soon as we noticed some rat activity — which was in staff room, there was nothing in the store — we got on to it straight away,” she said.
Mrs Grimmett wants to assure customers the pharmacy was being meticulous.
“It’s tidy, it’s clean, there’s no food on the premises and so we’re not encouraging the rats at all,” she said.
“Stock is perfectly safe so they’re not actually causing damage in our store.”
Mrs Grimmett said one area of the store had been blocked as it was back-to-back with Coles.
“There is absolutely no health risk to our customers at all.”
Rentokil reported that other stores had begun seeing rat activity.
Wodonga Council had said road and demolition works could have disturbed rat nests.
But the council believed it was hard to pinpoint an exact cause for the increase in numbers.