Dear PoP – Rat Abatement?

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Photo by PoPville flickr user rockcreek

“Dear PoP,

Not to gross you out, but I’ve been noticing some rat burrows under the front steps of my building. I had troubles getting 311 to help me, they sent me to 4 different phone numbers and basically told me that I had to report myself to the city since it was a condo, so I called my constituent relations person in Councilmember Graham’s office who is kindly helping me get vector services to come out, survey the problem and take some action, but he also recommended a long term solution involving quarterly inspections of the condo building. That said, has anyone ever told you about a great company that does good work for rat abatement and is reasonably priced?”

These questions terrify me. We’ve spoken a lot about the mice problem in DC but haven’t really focused on rats. But we can’t pretend they don’t exist. So – has anyone used a rat abatement program either privately or through the city?

30 Comment

  • We had a rat issue in the front of our building a few weeks ago, due (we think) to construction next door disturbing the rats. We contacted our local ANC rep and he had a crew out there within 24 hours performing abatement (plugging holes, etc.). The Department of Health has a webpage on this (I assume the poster saw it) that gives tips on prevention but not really abatement. Anyway, good luck.

  • Remember the movie Ben? No amount of abatement is going to make a dent in the problem.

  • My friend has a great idea…a rat trap with video camera wirelessly connected to the internet so folks from anywhere in the world can log in, choose their favorite rat trap, and then can activate the killing device remotely from their computer when a rat appears in the screen.

    In the meantime, he just shoots them with a BB gun when they appear in the alley. He tells great stories of opening up walls, stairs, etc, to close up all their holes and trails…

  • I’m glad for the large, healthy feral cat colony in the ally. I’d much rather deal with that than the rats that would move in. I’ve noticed that the further west you go in the city, the worse the rat problem. There are also no cat colonies.

    • Are you my neighbor? We love (and feed) our four alley cats, who’ve all been neutered/spayed by the Humane Society. We’ve not seen a single rat since they showed up and used to have a major infestation.

      • hmm, I hope they all weren’t spayed/neutered otherwise there will be no more cats in a few years.

        • saf

          There will always be plenty of feral cats. I have been trying to cope with the ferals in a very small area for a very long time now. They keep showing up – idiots dump pets when they move, someone dies and a new cat moves into the territory… there will always be ferals.

  • What you need is a black rat snake. If that’s too much for you (and it is for me) maybe set up a box for an owl.

  • Rat poison. Simple, effective. It’s not a neurotoxin so unless you physically put the pellet in your mouth, it won’t do you any harm.

    • Through long and painful experience, I can tell you the best and only way (for outdoor vermin) is poison, lots of it. Rats aren’t immune (yet) to the modern anti-coagulants. Don’t hire a company — buy your own bait stations (the black plastic boxes that squirrels and pets can’t get into) and check them every day. If the bait is being eaten, refill. It will smell a bit when the buggers die. Do this for at least three months. Forget animals/pellet guns(which are illegal in DC)/traps. None of them are 100%. Only poison is, eventually. See, e.g., Rat Island in Alaska.

    • Only poison is effective in the end. Forget the traps/animals/bb guns. And you have to be totally vigilant about keeping the bait stocked. Rats can eat the whole thing in an hour. Apologies if double posted.

      • One more thing: patience. It’s gross but you have to keep checking your bait stations daily for at least three months to make sure you’ve got every last one. Then fill the holes in.

        Two years ago, I had a severe infestation both in front of and behind my house. I bought a bunch of the block-type poison and the black plastic bait stations. The rats came back for a rematch last fall, I laid out the poison again, and they disappeared.

  • ledroit park’s cats keep us vermin-free.

  • Two neighbors across the alley manufacture all the Rats for our alley so yeah, we have a huge Rat issue in the alley. I called the city few times, but they keep telling me they can’t go to the neighbor yard to bait. I think that is stupid since this people don’t even bother cleaning their backyard so they could care less about the Rat issue they are causing everyone. The city should be able to get in problem areas including people’s yards to bait. Also, the Cats that walk around our hood don’t even bother with the rats, they just pass each other. It is quite amusing actually.

    • saf

      No, the city shouldn’t put poison on anyone’s property with that person’s permission.

      However, those conditions sound like something that could get them cited and a notice to abate.

  • The reason the cats walk by the rats, rats are tough! Rats are an even, or even superior, fighter than just about any house cat. Bigger rats are very good at defending themselves versus dogs. (They tear out the dogs tongue if they are not killed outright and the dog bleeds to death.)

  • My rat catcher is sunning himself on my deck bannister right now. It’s a huge black snake. Judging by the lump in his middle he just digested something. I hope it wasn’t one of the squirrels. The thing has grown considerably since last year.

  • there is a dumpster used by a nearby mexican food joint behind my house… and on any given night you can go on my back porch and see between 20 and 50 rats in and round the dumpster (i’m not exaggerating) I’ve called the city many times about it, but there is really nothing they can do. They lay bait, which works great… for about 2 weeks until more rats come in.

  • Rats haven’t been so bad the last couple years in my alley, but there are two ill omens for this year: 1) during the first snow in January, we saw a little rat plowing across Holmead through eight inches of snow, and 2) When the District failed to collect trash through most of February, the stupider half of the people in my alley just piled up bags outside their property lines.

  • we were starting to develop a slightly serious rat problem in the alley between all the buildings between Mass & N and 14th & 15th. All the dumpsters for the 5 or 6 large buildings surrounding the alley are right there together in the alley. The rats would dig down essentially into two different dirt patches. Someone finally poured concrete over one dirt patch but left the other alone. That somehow seemed to do the trick as we’ve been pretty much rat-free since then. Though, here comes warmer weather, so we’ll see.

    • Skeedattle, you missed some awesome Chicken Tikka, man!

    • If you’re going to pour concrete … mix rat poison pellets in with the stuff. The bastards eat through pretty much anything. I did this with my front walk and put a nice big dent in the population.

  • The rats have been horrible in our yard, mostly because of a neighbor with a broken down shed. The roof has collapsed and it’s boarded up, but it makes a perfect rat incubator.

    Couple that with the fact that (if I understood the documentary correctly) rats babies are ready to breed about 2 months after they’re born! Amazing. And gross.

    We use Affordable Pest. They put out 2 rat bait boxes and we call them every month or so to refill. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t tell you how much they cost though.

  • you might also try getting a couple of Jack Russel Terriers. Weren’t they bred to be ratters? Plus, they’re just kick-ass dogs.

    • My Yorkie got a rat on my doorstep last week. Good boy!

      • Pretty much all terriers are natural born rat killers. When I was a kid I always thought my neighbors had really funny terrier/mutt dogs that were always playing with these strange lifelike rat-shaped chew toys…lets just say those weren’t chew toys.

  • slightly unrelated but this makes me want to watch Ratatouille again. that movie is god damn amazing.

  • How does one go about getting feral cats for the alley? I’d love to have an alley cat help combat the rats (ours are actually mice) but i don’t want to be responsible for feeding and caring for an alley cat. my terrier dog keeps a good eye on my property. she doesn’t catch much, but atleast she keeps the vermin off my property.

    • The Alley-Cat group that feeds the feral cats in my alley leave great lumps of wet cat food on pieces of newspaper all over the place, which the rats LOVE. I’ve seem them like hogs at the trough lapping it up. Then the newspaper blows all over. Believe me, you do not want a feral cat colony! All you get is more rats and feral cat crap in your yard.

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