Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ October 2017

Rats!  Yes, It Can Happen Here!

By Sharon Canavan

A recent Washington Post article described how the rodent population is proliferating in the nation’s capital.  The article cited numerous causes — mild winters when fewer rats die, the booming growth of new restaurants that add to the amount of garbage as a food source, and construction that disrupts rats’ underground burrows, causing them to seek shelter in yards or homes.

Rats are not just an urban problem; unfortunately we have them here in Four Corners.  In broad daylight I saw a rat scurrying across the parking lot of a nearby restaurant.  A friend in Woodmoor had to call an exterminator when she heard rustling in the basement ceiling and discovered a burrow under the deck.  Also, as temperatures cool in the fall, mice look for shelter indoors.  Sources of food for rats or mice can be compost piles or backyard bird feeders.  Open dumpsters at any of the many restaurants in Four Corners offer rats a plentiful supply of food.

How do you know if you have a rat burrow in your yard?  There may be pathways leading from the hole or along fences.  The opening to the nest will be several inches wide and there may be several openings.  Fill the hole with loose dirt and wait to see if the hole is reopened.  Nobody wants to admit that they have a rodent problem, but it is likely that, if there is a nest in your yard, there may be other nearby burrows or food sources that are attracting the pests.  If you have rats nesting on your property, you will need the cooperation of your neighbors since chances are they may be inadvertently providing food sources or shelter for rodents as well.

Blocking the burrow does not work to eliminate the problem.  Glue boards or snap traps baited with peanut butter, bacon, oatmeal, gumdrops, and apples may be effective.  Alternatively, there are poison baits, but, to avoid harming children or pets, there are commercially available bait boxes or you can place the bait in a pipe.  Be sure to read and follow all the directions on the package.  Place traps or bait near burrows or along the pathways that the rodent is using.  If you cannot or do not want to handle this, a qualified pest control company that specializes in rodent control will be able to take on the job.  You can also speak to the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services’ Rat Control Office at 240.777.3986.

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  So, it is best to take steps to avoid attracting rodents.

For more information, Montgomery County has a brochure that offers tips on identifying rodents and the places where they shelter along with useful advice for eliminating these pests at files/ratbroch.pdf.  Additional information from the County is available at Control.html.   ■

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