Rats – A long time pest.
There’s no doubt about it – where you find humans you will also find rats.
We have lived alongside rats for thousands of years. So there has always been a need for effective rat control ever since our cave dwelling ancestors first had to put up with rats invading their nice warm caves.
Rats are pretty intelligent creatures (ask any research scientist) and they know when they are on to a good thing. So it’s not surprising that as we humans spread across the globe they tagged along too. Now they are probably the second most abundant mammal in the world after humans.
But too many rats can cause major problems…..
In the early 20th century San Francisco and New Orleans cities suffered repeated outbreaks of bubonic plague (the disease that killed 6 out of every 10 people in Europe in the 14th century and still kills people in the USA today).
These outbreaks prompted people to take note of the health risks associated with too many rats;
By 1917 the rat population in the major cities such as Boston had grown and started to spread to more prosperous neighborhoods. It was considered a major problem and the good citizens of Boston had had enough.
It was time to fight back. So the Boston Women’s Municipal League organised the first (and last) Boston Rat Day on Feb 13th 1917.
It was a simple enough idea. Offer prizes for the highest number of dead rats delivered to designated sanitary yards on the designated day. The top prize of $100 was won by Mr Rymkus with 282 rats.
Now, the Boston Rat Day may have made dent in the local rat population and generated a lot of publicity in its time. But it certainly didn’t solve the long-term rat problem.
Rats – a very modern scourge.
Fast forward 100 years and take a look at the headlines…
“In Chicago, reports of rodent activity rose by about 70% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period last year. In New York rat complaints jumped by 39% in the same period” (Source USA Today).
US cities still have a major rat problem.
According to The American Housing Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2015. The city with the worst rodent problems is Philadelphia where 18% of homes – nearly 1 in every 5 – reported seeing rodents. That’s about 392,000 homes in Philadelphia reporting mice or rats in the last year.
The other cities that top the leader board are:
2. Boston (still up there despite Boston Rat Day)
3. New York
4. Washington DC
Over 10% (1 in 10) of all households in these cities reported rat or mice sightings.
The west coast appears to have slightly less of a rodent problem. San Francisco comes in at number 17 in the survey with about 8% of Bay Area households (about 1 in 12) reporting rodent sightings. Not as many as Philadelphia but still a lot.
Rats – what can you do?
So the conclusion has to be – if you live in a city you need to prepare to deal with rats and mice.
Here are 5 simple measures to help you protect your home from rats and mice;
1. Seal all entry points:
• Look for cracks in your foundation, walls and gaps under door and seal them
• Be aware that rats can squeeze through holes the size of a quarter and mice can squeeze through holes the size of a dime.
• Realize that rats and mice are masters at gnawing through materials (even brickwork). So consider using sheet metal in vulnerable areas.
• While you are at it make sure to pay attention to overhead as well. Roof rats like to climb and will happily walk across power cables to get access to your attic.
2. Remove food sources:
• Don’t leave pet food lying around.
• Keep all food in sealed boxes in cupboards and the pantry.
• Use sealed garbage cans and make sure garbage is disposed of quickly.
3. Keep your yard tidy:
• Remove any trees/shrubs that can provide cover and help rodents get access to you house
4. Get a cat