Rodent Action Team
Rats and mice are increasing their population within Eugene, particularly in the Friendly neighborhood, due to an increasingly abundant food supply from backyard farms, composting food waste, raising chickens, fruit trees, and household pets. And our old sewer lines in south Eugene also play a part. Rodents build nests below or inside your home, scratching and chewing through floors, walls, and ceilings. If a rodent dies under your house, a putrid smell may find its way inside your home. Beyond the creepy factor, rats carry numerous diseases that can infect humans, pets, and chickens.
Rats evolved with humans, and we will always have them. But we can move toward peaceful coexistence by being smart about how we manage the space around our homes.
The FAN Rodent Action Team (RAT) shares information with neighbors to help control our burgeoning rat population. We are assembling educational information here. We need many neighbors to take individual actions to reduce rat food sources and rat nesting areas around their homes. Please note we are not pest control professionals.
Several city departments offer resources for rat control.
Send rat complaints to Public Works Maintenance.
For concerns regarding a neighboring property and whether they are in violation of City code, you can file a report with the Code Compliance team in the Planning and Development Department.
Visit the Urban agriculture section of the website for the City of Eugene, Planning Department, or call (541) 682-8336.
Compiled from various extension service publications we have collected. You are welcome to read additional articles at our public Google Drive folder.
You are much more likely to find signs of rats than to see the rats themselves—because rats are usually active at night. If you see rats outside during the day, you almost certainly have a major rat infestation nearby. If you find rats inside your house, they are no doubt feeding inside your house.
Signs of rats include:
Your yard may be your paradise, with a carefully tended vegetable garden, composting system, and haven for chickens and pets. Unfortunately, rats may treat it as their paradise, too.
These practices, recommended by the Center for Disease Control and experienced urban gardeners, can help keep rodents out of your home, yard, and neighborhood:
Eliminate possible outdoor food sources. Keep pet food stored outside in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids, and don't leave pet food and water bowls out overnight. Keep outside cooking areas and grills clean. Pick up and dispose of pet droppings. Keep bird feeders away from the house, and use squirrel guards to limit access to the feeder by squirrels and other rodents.
Practice smart composting. Don't put meats or fats in with kitchen waste to be composted. One good option for kitchen waste is a store-bought, closed system plastic composter. Or, if you use an all-purpose compost bin combining your kitchen and yard waste, make sure it is rodent proof. Secure access from all sides (including the top and from the ground beneath it) with hardware cloth (¼" screen). Make sure the sides of your unit fit together tightly and have no gaps of ½" or greater. Alternate layers of food waste and yard waste (leaves, branches, grass clippings, flower heads). Keep compost as far from the house as possible.
Eliminate nesting sites (harborage). Elevate hay, woodpiles, and garbage cans at least a foot off the ground. Move wood piles as far from the house as possible. Dispose of old vehicles, furniture, and tires. Keep grass and shrubbery near your home trimmed.
Feed the chickens, not the rats. As with pet food, store chicken feed in secure containers and regularly clean up food on the ground. Put out only enough feed that will be eaten in 15 minutes. Or, consider investing in a secure feeding system, such as a treadle feeder. If you use straw as bedding, clean and aerate it regularly.
Seal up holes inside and outside your home, garage, and outbuildings to prevent entry. Mice can squeeze through a nickel-size hole, and rats can fit through spaces the size of a half dollar. Look for gaps under and inside kitchen cabinets; under and behind the refrigerator and stove; inside closets; near the fireplace; around doors and windows; around pipes and vents under sinks and to the washer, dryer, water heater, and furnace; and in the attic and basement or crawl space. Use lath screen, cement, or metal sheeting to seal off large holes, and fill small holes with steel wool.
Beyond the creepy factor, rats carry diseases that can infect humans, pets, and chickens. For more information on the hazards posed by urban rats, the 2016 documentary by Morgan Spurlock, Rats, (available on Netflix) offers a vivid and disturbing look at ongoing efforts to control these pests in New York City.
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