By Chris Williams on July 21, 2017.

City rats are an ever-increasing problem. Makes sense, rats and people go hand-in-hand and city populations are on the rise. Wherever people have established homes providing food and shelter, rats will be there to share. In a city, everything is bigger, more concentrated, and in-your-face, including the rats.

Even though rats are plentiful in cities, they’re not so easy to find and control. Rats are masters at hiding, they’re active at night, and they are wary of changes in their environment. Given all that, scientists in New York City are finding it difficult to locate accessible rat-infested properties where they can set up research sites to study rat behavior and diseases. Here’s a deal: One researcher is offering a “reward” of up to $1,000 for access to a suitable rat-infested location in Manhattan. The owner of the study site will receive free, confidential extermination services once the study is completed.

City rats are not only a nuisance, they are a health hazard (see What’s So Bad About Rats?). Rats can carry and spread many different diseases to people, some quite serious. Let us not forget the rat’s role in the spread of the bubonic plague, known as the “Black Death,” that killed 1/3 of the people in Europe in the 14th century.


Recently, a man who is a cook in a Boston restaurant contracted leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread in the urine of rats, mice, and some other mammals. Most cases are in dogs that have contacted rodent urine but people occasionally get it, too. Boston’s Inspectional Services Department concluded that the cook likely got leptospirosis from rodents discovered in the basement of the restaurant where the walk-in freezer and storage room are located.

New York City says it has one to three reported cases of human leptospirosis every year. No doubt some cases go unreported since mild symptoms resemble the flu. But the disease can be quite serious for some, causing kidney or liver damage, even death. Earlier this year in New York City, 3 people were diagnosed with leptospirosis within a one block area of the Bronx; one individual died from the disease. In one building that housed two of the victims, angry residents complained that the rat problem in the rundown building has been increasing for years. Complaints to the landlord had gone unheeded.


According to Boston’s records, 2016 had the highest number of rodent complaints to city officials ever. If you live in Boston, New York, or any other large city, you already know what we’re talking about. If you enjoy the nightlife, you probably see foraging rats on a fairly regular basis. Even in the suburbs or the country, rats can become a problem under the right circumstances (see Rats in My Neighborhood? Come On!).

It’s up to us to make sure that rats don’t win the battle. There are two important things that you should do at the first sign of rats:

(1) Call a pest control professional. At Colonial Pest, our specialists know rats and know which control options to use where. We also know rat-proofing methods that keep rats out of a structure.

(2) Remember, “if you feed them, they will come.” Think about what you are doing to make life comfortable for rats and change your ways (see Manage Food and Garbage to Manage Rats).

Photo Credit : Steven Pisano | CC BY 2.0



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