SINGAPORE: Following a complaint from a patron who said she saw a rat fall from the ceiling while at an eatery, Punggol's Waterway Point has intensified pest control measures, it said.
Ms Rita Lim detailed in a Facebook post last Wednesday (Mar 23) how a rat fell from the ceiling and onto her seat while she was waiting for her meal at an eatery.
After the incident, inspections by the National Environment Agency (NEA) detected some signs of rat activity in two areas within the mall - in a food shop and in the ceiling above a common area.
NEA said it has taken enforcement action against both the mall management and the food shop to ensure that they step up the necessary measures to address the rat situation.
A mall spokesperson told Channel NewsAsia that pest control checks were carried out every night, as the mall was in close proximity to quite a bit of construction work.
The spokesman said that even though the rodent situation is under control, added measures - such as sealing holes along the perimeter of the mall and laying chemicals to exterminate the rats - have been taken where necessary.
It will also be taking enforcement against eight food shops for hygiene lapses observed, but said no rats or rat activity were detected in these shops.
"RATS HIDING IN MALLS TO BE SAFER AND CLOSER TO FOOD"
Aardwolf Pestkare, which provides services for three tenants within the mall, said it has caught five rats in a little more than two months, all of which were Norway rats. These rats can weigh as much as half a kilogramme each and grow up to 30cm long, and typically live in sewers or burrows.
Aardwolf’s operations director Patrick Chong said the company found rats in the mall's false ceiling as it was the only place to hide in the mall.
He added that while NEA had an intensive programme to get rid of rat burrows for many years, the rats were “intelligent enough and now no longer want to reside in the burrows”, but instead were moving into the buildings where they could be safer and closer to food.
Mr Chong added that from his experience, he believed some of the rats were already roosting inside during the construction stage.
“Otherwise, how do you get five or six rats coming in, in such a short period of time?"
Mr Chong also said the rat infestation is not heavy, but a sharp eye must be kept on the situation to prevent it from worsening.
Open-concept malls like Waterway Point also make it easier for rats to get around, said a medical entomologist at another pest control company, Rentokil.
Dr Chan Hiang Hao said: "Whenever there is a rodent infestation at one side of a mall, it can easily spread to the whole mall … the ceiling has no barricade to stop (the rats) from moving to F&B outlets at the next level, or other end of the shopping mall."