CLEVELAND (WJW) — Some unwanted residents are becoming a nuisance in and around Cleveland’s Public Square.

Nests and possible colonies of rats have settled near the historic location with the rodents running wild across sidewalks and streets, even in broad daylight.

“They’re big, they’re definitely big,” said Keandre McCrary.

A couple of rats even ran behind McCrary during his interview with FOX 8 News.

“I’m not staying by them no, no, no, I can’t be by them,” said McCrary before quickly leaving the area.

Several factors are believed to be causing the sudden influx and activity, starting with a massive construction project right next to Public Square, according to the Cleveland Department of Public Health.

“Whenever you have construction … any kind of banging pounding you’re going to have them scurrying and scattering from their underground dwellings,” said Robert Peterson CDPH Program Manager, Code Enforcement Unit.

The construction is coinciding with much cooler temperatures which typically sends rats seeking food and shelter. Both of which are plentiful at Public Square.

“Tower City is always going to be higher than normal because you have higher foot traffic there, and a lot more restaurants crammed in that general area,” said Peterson, “More garbage and/or people absentmindedly throwing down wrappers and bags.”  

Even dog waste from people walking dogs around the square’s paths and green spaces can contribute to the issue because rats will eat the waste.

WJW photo

“It’s disgusting! It’s nasty, for real,” said Kairyanna Ford, who was with her friend at Tower City Monday.

The health department is working hard to control the problem, but it’s difficult in Cleveland because of Lake Erie.

“We’re a city that’s situated right on the water, so that’s kind of hard to keep that population down, but between residential baiting, the surveys and sewer baiting we can do what we can,” said Peterson.

They’re asking people to do their part by cleaning up after their pets and themselves.

They say all trash should be thrown into a proper receptacle in the city and into a receptacle with a secured lid at home, while also removing any standing water buckets or small pools.

It’s also imperative to report rat sightings and issues to the health department so they can investigate and take action before the problem escalates.