Help us kill rats without collateral damage
November 8, 2012 12:12 PM Subscribe
How to kill rats that don't live in my property without killing squirrels, pets, children or neighbors?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly to pets & animals (40 answers total)
NOTE: this is a "how-to" question, not a "should I" question, though I am considering that separately and am not decided. I am gathering information, not forming a definite plan for action.
My wife and I just moved into a small rental house in a pretty dense hillside neighborhood in the East Bay (Albany/El Cerrito/Richmond area). We are expecting a baby in less than 3 months. There is a nice yard with some citrus trees and rose bushes, but it's generally well-maintained and clear. Our next-door neighbors' yard is not clear or maintained at all. They have fruit trees that just deposit fruit on the ground, and there are large palms from which dead fronds are not removed. There are also large woodpiles in their yard directly against their house.
They have a pretty serious infestation of roof rats/black rats/rattus rattus. The rats live in their fruit trees, run through their gutters, and scurry across the top of the shared fence as well as across a cross board on our side of that fence (there are holes on either side of the span they go in and out of). The closest fruit tree of ours to this fence area is a fig tree that is still producing fruit right now, and there are very clear nibbles/chunks bitten out of some of the figs, though these could definitely be from squirrels. I can confirm that there are at least 3 individual adults, and I am pretty sure I saw a fourth (to be clear, I mean that I spotted these distinct individuals at the same time, so I'm sure I'm not double-counting the same couple rats over and over).
This is alarming because it seems to me (I am not an expert) that black rats are a legitimate concern for spreading diseases such as salmonella to humans on a level that squirrels, pigeons and other more typical urban wildlife are not. Also, rational or not, my wife and I both have a strong aversion to sharing our living space with rats and in terms of municipal laws/codes that aversion seems to have some bit of legal standing.
Soooo... We called our landlord, she called the neighbors, and the neighbors freaked. They like the rats and think we need to respect the rats' right to exist. The landlord agrees with us that this is a problem that needs to be solved. Landlord then (not at our request) contacted the city directly, which caused even greater freaking out from the neighbor. They won't talk to my wife or me and show no indication of being willing to cooperate.
Now, I hope that this is resolved reasonably. I hope that the neighbor can start keeping their yard in a way that doesn't harbor rats, or become more active about getting rid of their existing infestation. But I am afraid that if they don't the city will kill these rats using poisons or methods that aren't good for the neighborhood, my dog, or our future kid. Therefore I would like to have a backup plan, if one is even possible, to dispatch this existing population quickly and effectively before it gets out of control.
So that leads to my question: How do we kill these motherfucking rats effectively without collateral damage?