Paris closes parks in major anti-rat campaign

This photo provided by Disney shows Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) in "Ratatouille Image copyright Disney/Pixar
Image caption Remy the Parisian rat in the film Ratatouille is safe - he is fictional, after all

Paris city hall is temporarily closing the French capital's parks as part of a drive to reduce the rat population.

Five parks have already been closed and the public will also be barred from the Champ de Mars, by the Eiffel Tower. Officials say rat numbers have grown because of abundant litter.

But Paris is not threatened by plague.

The "coup de poing" (punch) campaign involves setting new rat traps - said to be environment-friendly - and urging the public not to feed pigeons or rats.

Rat traps are being set in some Paris squares - including Cambronne and Garibaldi in the 15th district - and the Saint-Jacques Tower, a famous monument on the upmarket Rue de Rivoli, has also been closed.

A blog called Vivre le Marais, for residents of the Fourth district where the tower stands, complains about the rat problem.

"Yesterday evening at around 18:00 we counted roughly 200 of them, just by the railings on the Rue de Rivoli, and massing in the garden of the Saint-Jacques Tower," the blog said.

Litter bins are also being redesigned to prevent rats from crawling in.

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Media captionRats have been drawn to the Louvre gardens by picnickers' food

The Fourth district council says the anti-rat operation is a joint effort by the authorities responsible for road-cleaning, parks and sewers.

In 2014, startling video and photos showing rats at a picnic spot by the Louvre Museum in Paris got wide media coverage.

It is thought there are about six million rodents in Paris - 2.5 per person.

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