CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) — If you see a rat scurrying through your backyard, you might have no choice but to deal with it.

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report Wednesday morning, the city Department of Streets and Sanitation has lost workers because of a hiring freeze and chronic absenteeism.

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Thus, Rodent Control and the Forestry Bureau are being moved to garbage control.

While spokesman Matt Smith tells the Sun-Times the changes are temporary, representatives of Laborers Union Local 1001 say the plan will backfire. In the story, he says real life could resemble the Kia commercial where rodents are seen rapping and dancing with boomboxes to “The Choice Is Yours” by Black Sheep.

But the city does offer some advice for keeping rats away.

As the city points out on its official Web site, rats have an average lifespan of 6 to 12 months. Females females can produce four to seven litters per year, and came become pregnant again within 48 hours of giving birth.

While rats prefer fresh food, they will eat pet food, dog feces, garbage and plants too, the city pointed out.

The rats in Chicago are Norway rats, which prefer to live in burrows in the ground, and can climb and swim easily. They can also chew through wood and plaster, crawl through holes the size of a quarter, tread water for three days, and land safely after a five-story fall.

But the most worrisome aspect of wild rats in Chicago is the risk of disease. They carry a variety of infected fleas and ticks that can be passed on to people, and if cornered, they can bite, the city points out.

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