Gopher rats have taken up residence at the downtown Courts Building.
Employees said they see the rats scurrying about even in the daytime.
One worker said she stands across Cherry Street at the parking garage and sees as many as 20 of them running around at mid-day.
At night, they paw through stacks of garbage bags left on the sidewalk in front of their home.
Vince Dean, Criminal Court clerk, said the rats have been at home just outside the Cherry Street entrance since he has been at the Courts Building.
He said he and his wife recently met Circuit Court Judge Kyle Hedrick for dinner, and the Hedricks parked in the lot next to where the rats live while waiting for him. He said when he got out to see the judge, he remarked, "You've got some rats out here."
The clerk said the rats have dug large holes near bushes just to the left of the heavily-trafficked Cherry Street entrance. He also sees them sometimes during the day, but more often at night.
Mr. Dean said, "I would say these rats have been here a while. They are not yearlings."
He said, "I call them gopher rats. They are bigger than your normal rat."
Chris Jones, an attorney who specializes in animal cases, said the rats at the Courts Building are Norway rats.
He said he earlier found a dead rat on the first floor of the parking lot across from the entrance of the Courts Building. He took a photo of it, while noting it was almost as long as his #12 boot size.
Attorney Jones said, "You can distinguish Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) from the other common rats: the Cotton Rat (Sigmodon hirsutus) , and the Wood Rat (Neotoma floridana), as the Norway rat has a prominent scaled tail.
"The Norway rat is the same one that transmitted the Bubonic plague."
Mr. Dean said county maintenance "has tried to deal with the problem. You frequently see exterminators out here. But the rats are still here."