The Netherlands is failing to rat out the rats: no one knows how many there are

The Netherlands has a rat problem, but no one is completely sure how bad it is. A combination of inefficient reporting and ineffective municipality policy means that in some major cities, there are more rats than people.

No collective counting system exists for the number of rats in the Netherlands, but what everyone agrees on is that there are far too many of them. I would personally argue that one rat is too many rats, but we’re talking far larger numbers of them here, unfortunately.

No one has been able to rat the rats out

There is no uniform system for dealing with rats in the Netherlands: the government has passed the responsibility to individual municipalities, who attempt to solve the problem, or don’t, in whatever way they choose. RIVM has attempted to create a Rat Monitor, a hotline for professional pest controllers, through which the total number of Dutch rats can be monitored. However, thus far, there haven’t been enough reports made to create an accurate picture of the rat problem.

Efforts to source this information from the public have also failed, but for a different reason. People are terrible witnesses, it seems, especially when it comes to rats. Someone who very rarely sees a rat is much more likely to report it than someone who sees rats all the time.

40 percent of municipalities have seen an increase in rat nuisance complaints

By combining municipality records and other knowledge centres on rat nuisance, NOS revealed that there were 10,000 reports of rat nuisance last year, and already 7,000 this year. NOS also found that out of the 190 municipalities they asked, 40 percent felt that the number of complaints about rat nuisance had increased.

Fewer rats are being poisoned, so get yourself a cat

Because the rules on rat poison have become stricter, the rat population is expected to continue increasing over the next couple of years. So, don’t leave your babies unattended, and get a cat. Even if cats aren’t particularly discerning about what they kill, having a furry predator in your corner could well be worth it if the rat population continues to grow.

Have you had any experiences with rats recently? Let us know in the comments below.

Feature image: DSD/Pexels

Ailish Lalor
Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.


  1. Agree! Horrendous problem in our street this summer…and the rats showed little fear…boldly walking into rooms, cafes, Restaurants in the evening. One of my favorite cafes used to have a cat, and I never saw a rat there…but since the friendly feline died – they are seen, I’ve even watched one come across the street and in through the open door late one hit summer evening.
    Bring back the cats!!
    Allowing cafes to have a resident feline, esp. if they take a rescue cat solves this problem!

  2. Saw a huge rat running out of the bushes around the Motorhuis showroom in Leiden. It was around 4 pm and it didn’t look too worried about getting caught!

  3. I lived in Hilversum ( 2004-2006) at that time big rat appeared in my neighborhood ,few days later we saw mother rat with 2 babies…they were making noise at night ( digging tunnels underneath the floor?at NIGHT )
    My son was 4 I was scared and called Gemeente.They told me that “ant -rat department” was closed in late 90ties because problem of the rats in NL was SOLVED!!!
    Within couple of weeks I have heard from many people they had same problem and private terminator is 50 euro only for coming ???so yeah …this problem exists for a really long time here ?

  4. Lol, never heard anyone complain, except for Polderland (pumped up land) .
    I live my whole life in the ‘Randstad’ (Rotterdam and the Hague),I never seen a rat or mouse (or traces of them) in my house.
    Sounds like fake news.

  5. Its really not fake news I was born in Eindhoven, I see them in the centrum and where I study arguably regulary (1ce a month), bear in mind I now only see them during day because I am home at night

  6. I currently live in hilversum and in the summer our house had a lot of mixed, which would come to the kitchen at night and make a total mess. Good thing our landlord helped us and we put traps and poison, that with the end of summer solved the problem. Hopefully they won’t come back next summer. Btw, we live on the third floor.


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