Orange County rat outbreak keeps trappers hopping

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Oct 10, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

Ed Thralls, an urban horticultural agent for Orange County, has simple advice for those who want to keep rats at bay.

“The rats are only going to be in the house for three reasons: food, shelter and water,” Thralls said.

To keep them out, he recommends keeping pet food — and all dry-food items — sealed, promptly washing dishes and removing food waste, and fixing any water leaks.

“If you have leaky faucets and pipes, and it’s dry outside, rats come inside to find water,” he said.

Outdoors, Thralls said, “don’t throw food out to feed the birds, because around sunset you’ll have rats moving in to pick up the food.”

Rats like citrus, Thralls said, so if you have fruit trees, it’s more likely you’ll attract them. And don’t keep tires or other debris around, because rats love to nest in either.

Experts warn that rats can get inside through a hole the size of a half-dollar.

But even animals as widely feared and disliked as rats have their good points. Their usefulness as lab animals is well known, and animal rescuer Marilyn Chappell of Ocala said domesticated rats make great pets.

“They’re very sweet. They’re just as nice as any other animal if you raise them right.”

But even rat fans have their limits. Chappell wants nothing to do with the wild variety.

“They carry diseases,” she said. “With pet rats, you don’t have the health risk.”

She does, however, have her own mock-apocalyptic theory about why rats are appearing now:

“It is 2012, after all.” or 407-420-5189

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