A hidden swarm of rats has been unleashed on unsuspecting inner-Melbourne residents and workers as major underground tunnel works continue.

Metro rail tunnel construction has sent thousands of “subterranean” rodents scampering to the surface in recent months, Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle revealed on Wednesday.

City of Melbourne council has hired pest control contractors to help control the “rat plague”.

“It’s a bit of a field day for exterminators and certainly our officers are flat out laying bait as well,” Mr Doyle told ABC Radio.

“Rats or not, you’ve still got to be humane if you are destroying them, nevertheless, you can’t have a rat plague overrunning the city.”

Increased building construction activity, especially during the rats’ September to November breeding season, has disturbed nesting habitats causing the rodents to rise to street level.

“In any city … there’s kind of a sub-fauna existence – rats, mice, foxes, snakes – all manner of what you would consider to be alien to a busy city … they are there,” Mr Doyle said.

The council’s multi-method baiting program, which ensures only rodents are affected, is targeting Flagstaff Gardens, Batman Park, Carlton Gardens and Fitzroy Gardens.


By Callum Godde