‘Ratlantis’: Rats build massive dome of tunnels at Tampa intersection

Over the months, the rats have dug their way under a pyramid-shaped dome that would make your skin crawl.

TAMPA, Fla. — It’s like something out of a horror movie, right in the middle of Tampa.

Near the corner of Florida and Hillsborough avenues, an entire colony of rats has overtaken an area where people wait for the bus, neighbors walk with their children, and homeless people occasionally camp out.

Over the months, the rats have dug their way under a pyramid-shaped dome and a network of tunnels that would make your skin crawl.

“I’m from New York. A native New Yorker,” Sarita Walcott said while waiting for a bus.

Walcott says she always expected to see rats in the NYC subway system but was horrified to be sitting at a Tampa bus stop just feet away from such a massive rat nest.

So large, locals have given it nicknames like “Ratopia” and “Ratlantis.”

“Yeah, I can deal with that, because I grew up with that. I mean I was understanding that was the thing. In New York in the subways. OK? But I didn’t expect it for down here. No,” Walcott said.

Folks who wait for the #34 bus at the corner of Florida and Hillsborough Avenues say it’s been going on for close to a year.

“It’s gross. It’s disgusting,” Michael Edwards said. Edwards says he catches the bus before the sun comes up every morning. when the rats are most active.

“They are jumping in and out of the trash cans. And running back inside, climbing up trees,” he said. “They’re all up in the bus stop area. You have to stomp them away sometimes. And they can get kind of aggravating.”

Rickey Richardson cleans bus stops for the company that does the advertising. He’s seen the vermin here too. 

“Rats, trash, homeless people. It’s just a hazard just to have the infestation comes from the homeless people sleeping and living food and so that’s why we try to keep it clean as much as we can,” Richardson said.

Neighbors say at night homeless people do camp in the area, sometimes leaving food behind.

“It’s a public health hazard. And it’s a bad look for Seminole Heights. It’s a very, very bad look for Seminole Heights,” said Andrea Cawley, who owns the nearby Seminole Heights General Store and restaurant.

She says so far, they’ve been able to keep the rats out. But she’s concerned since rats can carry disease.

The green space where the colony is, she says, is owned and maintained by FDOT, which she says sent someone out to address the issue a couple of weeks ago.

“Yeah, let’s handle it and get rid of them so it doesn’t spread,” Cawley said. “Because they do. That’s what they do.”

The Florida Department of Transportation says the city of Tampa is responsible for maintaining the area where the rats have made their home, and that a written agreement with the city says Tampa must repair any health and safety issues on the property.

10 Tampa Bay reached out to a city spokesperson who offered to initiate a code enforcement response, promising someone with the city of Tampa would investigate.

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