Rats in the Neighborhood

A note from HNA President Mark Harkrider:

It has been brought to my attention that the rat population has increased in our neighborhood. One neighbor, who has been trying to get rid of rats all summer, reports that the exterminator said that three bait traps that were set around the perimeter of their property have been emptied in three weeks, not the usual three months it usually takes, representing a total of 90 rats feeding at the traps. The property in question is not overgrown and does not contain attractive nuisances such as a bird feeder or open compost.

The reasons that our neighborhood has an infestation are numerous: a nearby creek habitat, a mild winter that increased the rat populations, wet weather that allows Norwegian burrowing rats to dig under houses, attractive habitat such as old garages and overgrown vegetation along alleys, food sources such as open garbage containers, open compost piles and bird feeders.

There are two types of rats that are usually found in Austin: roof rats that tend to get to houses from tree limbs and then chew their way in through the roof, and Norwegian burrowing rats that tend to dig in soft soil and burrow under houses.

I’m sending out this message so that each of you can be alert to signs of infestation and can both stop the attractions that may lure rats to your property, and end infestations before rats proliferate inside your house. If you cannot afford to put out bait or traps, the county has a program to help you at 512-978-0370.

Unfortunately, bait traps may be a necessary evil to control these rats. Exterminators and the county program strongly urge people to not put out bait unless it is in a trap to avoid inadvertent poisoning of pets and wildlife, so I am not condoning putting out bait by itself.

I urge you to take stock of your property and to take the necessary steps to reduce the threat of rat infestation for you and your neighbors. Unless we all participate, we could all be affected.