Rats invade alley near Belltown restaurants

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SEATTLE - Rats have taken over an alley behind some popular Belltown restaurants and now the city is getting involved.

Wednesday at midnight, KIRO 7 counted 17 rats around the Ampersand Lounge near First Avenue and Bell Street. 

The Norway rats can grow to be more than a foot long.

King County inspectors said it's up to businesses in Belltown to close garbage cans, so rats can't get to the food.

Because of recent complaints, inspectors sent the owner of the bar a notice to call a pest control specialist.

The owner of the Ampersand Lounge, Hiresh Tewari, said his restaurant doesn't put out much food and he does try to take precautions to keep rats away.

"Why are they circling your restaurant specifically?” asked KIRO 7 reporter David Ham.

“Because they sleep under this building,” said Tewari.

Reporter Maria Guerrero saw overflowing trash cans and trash bags left on the ground in the alley. Rats were seen gnawing on garbage.

The King County Health Department said rats can carry disease, but there haven't been any recent reports of infected rats or rats biting people.

The general manager at restaurant Local 360 said he's seen rats outside, but never inside his restaurant.

He said the restaurant makes sure garbage cans are closed so rats can't get inside and routinely calls pest control.

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