Black rats on the increase in Spain warn experts

Black rats on the increase in Spain warn experts

The National Association of Environmental Health Companies (Anecpla), has warned of the danger in Spain of the black rat. This was one topic highlighted during the recent technical conference held at the headquarters of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE). Representatives of the Madrid City Council and environmental health companies were among those attending.

Titled, ‘Black rat: reemerging species, current situation, evolution and treatment’, experts from Anecpla explained the potential problem. They revealed that the black rat (Rattus rattus) is apparently spreading through the main cities of Spain.

This rodent poses a danger in that it transmits serious diseases such as leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, Weil’s disease, bubonic plague, and hantavirus. They urged the Administration to imminent prevention plans to avoid the spread of the problem. It is not yet a pest, but it can become one if it is not acted upon immediately.

The Anecpla experts addressed the current situation of this species in Spain, and its associated risks, as well as its evolution and management. They highlighted that the black rat population has increased notably in the last two years in Madrid and other cities in Spain, such as Valladolid.

Madrid’s situation is paradigmatic: with just a dozen outbreaks detected and controlled in 2019, the radius of action of this species has been widening to currently add up to 35 outbreaks, revealed Anecpla.

Jose Maria Camara, from the Department of Vector Control of Madrid Salud, explained, “The presence of the black rat in Madrid has been increasing in recent years, and to control this situation adequately, rapid action from the first detection is essential, in addition to the necessary collaboration between all the areas involved”.

“City council and pest management companies of course, but it is also important to establish synergies with the citizens themselves, park and garden workers, etc”, he pointed out.

Black rats usually limit their movements mainly to parks and gardens. This animal does not access exterior sewage systems or interior sanitation. An added problem is that they usually build their nests in trees, which are difficult to distinguish from those of birds. It also nests on rooftops and attics, and moves with agility through pipes and branches.

As Sergio Monge, the president of Anecpla highlighted, “Until now, both environmental health companies, and municipal prevention plans were specialized in sewer rats (Rattus norvegicus), the treatment of which is carried out inside the sewer, and for which a tolerance of a minimum population is assumed”.

“However, with the black rat, we find specimens that move in gardens and green areas, near schools and playgrounds, places with an intense traffic of people and domestic animals, which greatly complicates their management. And in the face of which, tolerance of a minimum population density is not so clear, both due to health, economic, and image criteria”, he emphasised, as reported by


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at