A Northwood man living in the Oregon Road area is hoping more of his neighbors will pay attention to their properties.
That’s because rats may start to take up residence in their yards.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the Wood County Health Department has come to his yard to drop poisoned bait in holes burrowed by the rats along his privacy fence.
He started seeing rats a few weeks ago, he said, soon after he noticed prints in the snow.
“I thought they might be from a rabbit,” he said. “Then I saw a rat run across the yard, then in the street. Then we started noticing a couple of burrow holes. I have dogs, and I first thought the dogs were digging them. But there were no prints from the dogs. We started seeing a couple of rats going from one yard to the other. Then I called the health department.”
He believes sewer repair work by the Northwestern Sewer & Water District in the area drove the rats above ground, causing the problem.
“A couple of neighbors down the street said they’ve had rats climbing on their garbage cans. I talked to another person who found a couple of rats in an in-ground pool. So this is a problem,” he said. “I’ve talked to people two blocks away who say they’ve seen them. I know of people who have seen rats in the Farnstead and Brentwood areas. But there are a lot of people who don’t even know there is a problem and I think they should know.”
He’s worried the rats will thrive in the warmer weather and pose a threat to his pets and even his grandchild.
“I’d hate to see a child get bitten by one,” he said.
Pat Snyder, health, education, information and communications manager with the Wood County Health Department, confirmed that a sanitarian from the department has placed poisonous baits in rat holes in the area in the last few weeks.
“She hasn’t had a lot of homeowners who have contacted her, but when they do, she goes out there and tries to work with them. The homeowners are requesting she place bait where it’s safe to do so. She’s helping them identify places where the rats might be hiding or digging. And she’s helping identify things that attract rats, such as food, water and animal droppings,” said Snyder.
It’s important for homeowners to survey their property and look for rat holes and tunnels, or places where they can hide, such as wood piles, underneath sheds and crawl spaces, she said.
“If they don’t want to contact us and don’t want to have the baits put out, then they just need to look around again for the holes. Any holes underneath foundations, or concrete or decks - you just want to look for those and get rid of them,” she said.
Bird feeders, cat food and dog and cat feces draw rats to a yard and must be immediately removed.
Rat baits should not be used around children or pets, Snyder cautioned.
“It is a poison. The easiest thing is to get rid of the places that attract rats to your yard,” she said. Getting rid of the rats’ food and water sources will cause them to leave.
Homeowners should not ignore the problem, she said, because rats reproduce fairly quickly and a property can quickly become overwhelmed by them.
“They’re going to multiply quickly. And they can get into a house. You want to take care of it. You don’t want to live with them. They can cause damage, can carry disease, bother your pets. They’re just not something you want to have around,” she said. “They’re going to find their favorite spots. And when they multiply, they’re going to want to spread out, too.”
Rats, in general, aren’t aggressive, though they could bite if cornered, she said.
“We have not had any reports of rat bites,” she said.
Northwood Mayor Mark Stoner, who said he’s not had calls from residents regarding rat infestation, urged the public to contact the health department if they are having problems with rats.
For more information, contact the health department toll free at 1-866-861-9338 or call directly at 419-354-2702.