Food litter sparks invasion of rats at city centre church

From left, Benny Malliagh and Gary Coates outside the churchyard

From left, Benny Malliagh and Gary Coates outside the churchyard

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

RATS have infested a cemetery in the heart of Oxford because of food litter thrown in by passers-by, it has been revealed.

The Church of St Mary Magdalen, in Magdalen Street, has had to call in Oxford City Council – which maintains the churchyard – to get rid of the pests.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History employee Gary Coates was walking home with a friend from the Lamb and Flag, in St Giles, on Saturday when he spotted up to 20 rats.

He said: “We were going towards George Street at about 10pm when I just happened to look over to the graveyard and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

“There were rats everywhere and some were the size of squirrels. I would say there were about 20 of them.

“Some were outside Boswells on the other side of the church and they were not scared of us.

“It’s disgusting really, especially since there are food shops like Tescos and Sainsbury’s nearby.”

Parish priest Rev Dr Peter Groves said the rats have been a problem for some time.

He said: “Well-meaning passers-by quite often throw bread in to feed the birds, but that also attracts the rats.

“We do also get a lot of food waste thrown in at night.

“The city council is currently working with us at the moment to deal with the problem, which always gets worse during the summer.

“It tends to go in cycles and we had the last major treatment done a few months ago, s So it is probably time for another.

“This is a problem we have had for at least as long as I have been at the church.

“As long as people keep throwing food in, it will keep attracting the rats.”

A spokesman for Oxford City Council said: “We visited St Mary’s Churchyard and found an infestation of rats. Officers went back yesterday to bait and will be visiting regularly until the infestation is tackled.”

The council did not say what measures it was using or how many of the pests it had managed to eliminate so far.

Our top stories:

GBH at Bicester shopping village

Oxford Mail: Oxford Crown Court

9:10am Tuesday 2nd September 2014

A man has had his sentencing adjourned yesterday for causing grievous bodily harm in a shopping centre.

One killed, two hurt in three-car smash near Brize Norton

Oxford Mail:

9:10am Tuesday 2nd September 2014

A PERSON was killed in a three-vehicle crash on the Witney Road near Brize Norton yesterday.

Oxford United foiled on deadline day

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Tuesday 2nd September 2014

Michael Appleton is determined to do his shopping earlier next summer after Oxford United were unable to land their top target before the transfer window shut last night.

Farewell to Abingdon boy Skye Hall, who lived his short life to full

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Tuesday 2nd September 2014

IN the final hours of his life, brave youngster Skye Hall showed incredible strength and told people to remember to make the most of what they have.

Silent disco planned in memory of Liberty Baker

Oxford Mail:

8:40am Tuesday 2nd September 2014

Details have been announced for a silent disco to raise money for a memorial commemorating crash victim Liberty Baker.

Illegal drivers caught in police operation on Abingdon Road

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

8:40am Tuesday 2nd September 2014

Six drivers using mobile phones and 12 not wearing a seatbelt were stopped by police yesterday.

Comments (3)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:00am Wed 9 Jul 14

Dilligaf2010 says...

I wonder if they're the super rats...
I wonder if they're the super rats... Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 2

1:14pm Wed 9 Jul 14

mytaxes says...

According to the latest documentary I watched, Oxford's rats are "super rats" immune to ordinary poison. Too many people here are trying to treat infestations on their own as the council now charge for pest control. Some friends told me that the rats are just eating the poison like food and coming back for more. Oxford is filthy and has been more so since fortnightly collections.
According to the latest documentary I watched, Oxford's rats are "super rats" immune to ordinary poison. Too many people here are trying to treat infestations on their own as the council now charge for pest control. Some friends told me that the rats are just eating the poison like food and coming back for more. Oxford is filthy and has been more so since fortnightly collections. mytaxes
  • Score: 1

1:27pm Wed 9 Jul 14

The New Private Eye says...

Maybe some extra extra hot chili sauce on the kebabs that they love will sort them out
Maybe some extra extra hot chili sauce on the kebabs that they love will sort them out The New Private Eye
  • Score: 3

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree