This year the London Underground celebrates its 150th birthday. The first tube journey was from Paddington to Farringdon on the Metropolitan Line and there were plans to extend the line to Kent and eventually Paris. But people aren’t the only customers. Pigeons have been observed regularly travelling between Hammersmith and Ladbroke Grove and between Baker Street and Euston Square or Great Portland Street. These stations are close to the surface and easily accessible to pigeons who are drawn to the food left on the train or platform.
Mice are a common sight and sometimes a welcome distraction to alleviate the boredom when trains are late. Last August someone mischievously scribbled a message on a TFL notice board at Farringdon Station saying, “Pay attention. The mice at this station have been attacking customers. Please place the bottom of your trousers into your socks to avoid being a victim of the Farringdon mice.” The news rapidly rippled throughout Twitter, but I doubt the Farringdon mice were so bold as to approach commuters.
Where there are people, the pests won’t be far behind feasting on discarded food or rubbish. In New York the rampant rat problem, which surged after Hurricane Sandy, is being curbed by lacing bait with birth control. Rats breed rapidly and can have 12 pups per litter, seven times a year. If you do the maths – the rodents could rapidly outnumber the human population of New York. Let’s hope the new pest control strategy works.