One angry Paris resident is mapping rat sightings to shame the city into action

All big cities have rats, but Paris seems to have a more serious rodent problem than most.

On an almost daily basis, Parisians can see rats scurry through the city's parks, in the metro stations and along its fancy boulevards. When the Seine floods, or when construction work forces them from their underground lairs, the furry creatures roam nearby streets in intimidatingly large gangs. The foreign press regularly features horror stories of Parisian rats attacking tourists (1).

Experts estimate there are 1.5 to 2 rats for each inhabitant of the city, which would mean there could be close to 5 million rats for the 2.3 million people who live within the Paris city limits. Dératisation is a verb every Parisian is familiar with, but the City's efforts to get rid of the rodents don't seem equal to the size of the problem.

Paris launched a €1.5-million 'war on rats' last year, promising more traps and cleaner streets, and regularly closing parks to eradicate local rat concentrations. But the war doesn't seem to make a dent in the rat population (2).

Geoffroy Boulard has had enough of the half measures. He heads the council of the 17th Arrondissement, one of the 20 administrative subdivisions of Paris, in the northwest of the city.

Work on a new courthouse and a metro line extension has forced a lot of rats to the surface, but his calls to City Hall for sanitation crews to deal with the problem have largely gone unanswered. He accused Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo of not taking the problem seriously. The case of a children's playground infested with rats was the proverbial straw for him.

Realising that complaining was not enough, Mr Boulard set up ('report a rat'), a website to collect rat sightings in the 17th Arrondissement. Whenever they spot one or more of the beasties, residents can enter their encounter on a map, where it is marked by a little rat logo (on its back if it's a dead one).

Collectively, the rat sightings give a good indication of the outline of the 17th Arrondissement. In the bottom right corner: the avatar of Mr Bollard.
Mr Bollard said each sighting would stay on the map until authorities respond, at which point the rats will be replaced by shovels. As of now, the map shows more than a hundred sightings, mostly live ones, and not a single shovel.

Here's a sample of the sightings reported on

12 Rue Déodat de Séverac
"A rat running after people and attacking them! Help!"

Rue des Batignolles
“I have it on picture and film if you need it.”

4 Rue Hélène
“Rat leaving the Monoprix supermarket at 5.45 pm on 12 June '18.”

Rue Davy
"Leaving my building, a rat passes suddenly in front of my 2-year-old daughter and me! There are plenty of them in our street. It's a real problem, especially in the evening”.

25 Rue Cino Del Duca
“Every evening I come across dozens of rats the size of small dogs that run into the buildings!”

42 Rue des Acacias
“A rat enters into 42 rue des Acacias every night! I live at this address and I must admit that I'm fed up with it”.

To be continued – à continuer...

Individual rat sighting.

Story found here on the English-language page at Radio France International.

Strange Maps #914

Got a strange map? Let me know at

(1) The 2007 Pixar movie Ratatouille shines a more positive light on the rats of Paris, but nevertheless confirms the association between the rodents and the French capital.

(2) When Paris was besieged in 1870 and its population on the verge of starvation, Parisians turned to rats as a source of meat. That didn't eliminate the problem either.

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
Big Think Edge
  • Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett breaks down what qualities will inspire others to believe in you.
  • Here's how 300 leaders and 4,000 mid-level managers described someone with executive presence.
  • Get more deep insights like these to power your career forward. Join Big Think Edge.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

In U.S. first, drug company faces criminal charges for distributing opioids

It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
  • It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
  • Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
Keep reading Show less