Dealing with a Rising Rat and Rodent Population
Both Oregon and Washington are home to native and non-native species of rats. Yes, there are slight differences between variations within the species, but in recent years, rising rat populations have caused increasing problems in residential Oregon areas. When you have backyard chickens to tend and feed to protect, those rodents can pose a serious risk. To make matters worse, there’s been a sharp increase in the number of rats in the urban and rural parts of both states. Here are a few ways to keep those invaders off your property.
Are There More Rats This Year?
According to Oregon State University Extension Service, there does seem to be more rats in the region this year compared to previous year’s counts. However, it could be because there are more rat habitats and more of a readily available food supply than ever before.
Because rats are designed to eat almost anything, there is an endless supply of nutrition throughout our cities, suburbs, and wide-open spaces. Bowls of pet food left outside, chicken feed left open in sheds and garages, and open compost bins can feed a family of rats for a very long time.
Traps Don’t Always Work
Yes, you’re bound to catch some of the population, but the remaining rats will continue to multiply. According to the experts, the best methods are to simply eliminate food and habitat.
- Keep pet and livestock feed stored in plastic bins that seal and latch (whether outside, in a barn, or inside a house or garage).
- Remove dense brush and vegetation (including thick ivy, etc.) where rats can shelter and create homes.
- Use baffles under bird feeders to catch seeds before they hit the ground.
- Keep bird feeders in the open and away from fences.
- Use a closed or contained compost system like a rotating drum option.
- If you grow strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or other types of fruit, be sure to pick when it is ripe. Leaving them to fall off the vine is an invitation to rats, mice, nutria and others.
- Use a garbage bin with a closing lid.
- To keep rats out of chicken coops and other areas, add several inches of wire underground.
- Repair any chicken wire holes larger than an inch wide.
- Rats build nests in attics, trees, shrubs, underground, in the subfloors of sheds and outbuildings. Reducing those opportunities can keep smart and opportunistic rats off your property.
- Critters that hunt and eat rats include owls, foxes, coyotes, weasels, snakes, and hawks. If you can live with some of those, nature will cut down on the rats all on its own.
While many people advise against poisoning rats, a note here can help everyone gain a better understanding about this. The active ingredient in many rodent poisons is nothing more than a very high dose of Iron that their bodies cannot handle. Read package information carefully because this isn’t the case with every single rat and rodent poison. With careful selection by reading the package information in detail you can find a product that can enhance your efforts with snap traps to root out a virulent infestation.
However, if your problem is that bad, I strongly advise that you call in a pest control pro who can set out baited stations and traps in key areas most likely to have success in your particular home, and who has the skill and know-how to select bait options that will not endanger local wildlife if a rat dies on your property and is eaten by an owl, hawk, eagle, or other unsuspecting animal or bird. A pest control expert can also identify and seal access holes around your home, and work to make your home and property much less inviting and much less livable for rodents. A pest control expert can also help in homes where children and pets should not come into contact with traps or bait of any kind. A little pest control expertise can give you know-how to carry you through.