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Dear PoPville – Any Tips on Rat Abatement?

by Prince Of Petworth January 11, 2013 at 2:30 pm 34 Comments

Dear PoPville,

I live in the U Street area, and have had problems with rats getting into my basement. The rats have created a fly problem (yuck), and nothing that I do seems to have any effect. Has anyone had good experiences with rat/pest abatement professionals in the area?

Living in DC, I don’t think that the standard kill-them-all approach is going to solve the problem — once these are gone, there are _always_ more.

Thanks for any advice!

You can learn about the Department of Health’s rat abatement program here. Has anyone gone the private route?

  • Anonymous

    Release a couple of cats in the area. I’d much rather have cats than rats.

  • J

    One of the problems is that many poison systems attract more rats. We’ have some success on a block by block and neighborhood basis working with DC gov. Also putting ammonia around entry points helps deter.

  • Anonymous

    I am about to build the barrel trap, or perhaps the beer can trap. I am so sick of the dozens of rats that have taken over the alley and yards up in Petworth. I’ve been trying to mix poision with peanut butter, but the herd is so large, time to resort to big guns!


    I just wish we could place a bounty on them and start sending out sharpshooters at night. Last year’s warm winter and this year’s huge acorn crop has meant an explosion in the rat population in DC. I think it’s beyond what the DOH Rat Patrol can handle!

    • Nathan Richardson

      LOL. Sounds like a good idea….but google the Cobra Effect.

      • Anonymous

        So, let’s not ask for the tails, let’s ask for their hides! ;-) With all the eager kids in DC, we could have a school trapping competition to earn money for their field trips….;-)

  • Anonymous

    The ginormous racoon and the Red Fox near Grant Circle have asked if it’s ok for them to start eating them too.

  • I have definitely noticed an increase in Petworth over the last year. I report every one I see to 311. They are slow in their responsiveness, but anything they can do will be a help. Ugh, my least favorite part of DC!

  • The rat problem in our alley in Dupont is obscene this year. They’ve taken up housing under our neighbor’s porch and I see at least 1 every time I walk down the alley at night – something I have gone out of my way to stop doing. Shudder.

  • Best plan is to organize all your neighbors to check their property for burrows and get city Rat Abatement team out – they will bait all the burrows. Get a “Rat Zapper” to kill any that come inside – you can also set it outside in a special box. Please do NOT put out peanut butter/poison – open bait where other animals might eat it.

    Food & trash is not as big a factor as shelter. Rats can get food everywhere but they really like their condos.

    We had a huge problem on my block/alley, that has been pretty successfully tamed.

    • Anonymous

      My poison butter balls are for the rats only! Too many other friendly pets around….

      • I think Victoria’s point was that you need to have your peanut butter/poison mix secured in rat bait stations, rather than out in the open.

        • Anonymous

          Right. That is why these special yummy balls of course are not out in the open for others to enjoy.

          The other night, I baited a trap, and literally caught a rat within 10 seconds.

          We also have an albino rat in the herd!

          I wish I could like these mammals, but when they start eating the wires in my car engine, I’ve had about enough!

          • Do you use snap traps? (Just curious.)

  • The high rat population in our patio is caused by the restaurant dumpster next door. The main things that are going to drive rat populations in an urban environment are food and shelter. Have a restaurant dumpster, and/or a good place to live (park, abandoned house, sewer). What is weird here is that you say the rats are IN your basement. Normally, we only have mice inside. You need to find out how the rats are entering your basement! Do you see any holes/cracks they could enter/exit through? Are there any sewer drains/pipes in your basement? Something is odd if you have rats IN your house.

    • Anonymous

      This. If you have rats in your basement, the only thing you can do is seal up any entry way. It can be a daunting task (all pipes in/out, behind machinery, etc), but it’s worth any cost to do.

  • Do you have any idea how they’re getting in? I’d suggest as a first step making sure to block off any possible entry points. Walk around the outside of your house and look for any openings. Either fill the holes with caulk or cover them with wire cloth. If you have basement windows, make sure they’re totally sealed.

    • +1 find how they are getting in check the sides of your dwelling. You can fill the holes with steel wool or a foam substance. Also I have another suggestion for those who have serious problems with the rats. MOVE out of the city. It’s just one of those things that we have to deal with residing in this area. Apartment builidings and multiple people living in small dwellings generating tons of garabage will bring a lot of rats in the area.

      • I don’t think rats are inevitable. If people did a better job disposing of their trash, rats wouldn’t be such a big issue.

      • Though if you move out of the city you will be attacked by rabid beavers.

  • Emily

    We have a dead rat carcass on our street corner and in November after Sandy did not sweep him away I reported it to 311. He’s still there and when I check my online request it says “estimated clean up: 2 days” “status: pending” Any thoughts other than adopting him as our street mascot?

    • grab a shovel and a trash bag…

    • Use a plastic bag and/or disposable gloves to pick the rat up, deposit it in another plastic bag, march down to your nearest street litter can, and throw it away.

      Alternatively, you could pick him up in this manner, maybe layer him in more plastic bags/newspaper, and put him in your own trash.

      I’ve done both of these things. Yeah, it’s gross, but I find it even more gross to see a dead rat in the alley.

    • sbc

      contact your ANC commissioner, your council member, and all the at-large members.

    • Sully

      Uh yeah .. Put on your Burberry face mask and a Gucci hazmat suit and go to town.

  • Our alley/little grassy area in the back has a very efficient feral cat population. They mostly been neutered. Hardly ever see rats.

    • We have cats in my alley, but they seem to have their hands (paws?) full with the rats — I haven’t actually seen any rats in a while, but last winter, spring, and summer were pretty bad.

    • My alley has feral cats fed by Allie Cat Allies – also a huge rat population. No feral cat is a match for an adult city rat. They might catch an occasional baby, but feral cats otherwise share the same general garbage food source as the rats. They are co-inhabitors, not predator/prey.

  • T

    A biological solution is always most efficient: we could introduce several thousand snakes to eat the rodents. If I recall correctly, reticulated pythons will eat rats and mice. So a few thousand would do the trick better than humans ever could.

    • The “biological solution” can also lead to disasters when said “solution” gets out of control (See: kudzu in the US, brown tree snakes in Guam, cane toads in Australia, rats on any island, etc…). If the pythons didn’t die from the cold, they could go into natural areas and make a big mess. Not a good idea.

      • T

        Um, no, because pythons are cool! I learned about them at the zoo. And not the National Zoo, but a zoo where people actually pay money to see the animals! Maybe tourists would pay money to see all the snakes — economic stimulus program too!

  • Two rats got in my house in Brightwood Park. They were in the basement, and made two huge holes in the wall that they would run into whenever they heard somebody coming. They would also drag trash under the bathtub and whatever food they would find. Rats are some smart little pricks. Thank goodness we finally killed them though. Worst 5 months of my life.

  • Anonymous

    If it’s worth it to you to spend the money to have someone else deal with it, Drew at American Pest was great in solving our indoor problem (3 rowhouses in a row, where the rats had found a crack in the foundation, chewed in, and then moved between houses along the supports) and do outdoor control/prevention.

  • aa

    I had a rat get into my storage shed one summer. I didn’t bother to check the shed for a couple weeks — that is until I smelled something horrible coming from it. Thing must have been dead for a while based on the maggots. Really one of the grossest things I’ve ever had to deal with. Hate, hate, hate rats.

  • Anonymous

    donate money to Vincent Orange. he’s apparently able to get rid of the worst rat problems in just one day!


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