Rat control options

Asked September 6, 2019, 9:36 AM EDT

My neighbor that lives behind be is disabled. His backyard is over grown and has many holes that appear to harbor rats. The house appears very unkempt. This house is one house down and behind my house. My grandson was helping this neighbor mow his lawn. The grass in the back yard was shoulder high and my husband went over there to help my grandson use a weed eater. My husband could hear animals running through the grass and there was holes and tunnels everywhere. After that he would only let him mow the front yard because he feared there were rats in the back yard. About a month later I saw an adult rat running along the boulder retaining wall in my back yard. He disappeared into a hole in the wall. We reported this concern to the Polk county health department. He told my husband that rats don't tunnel in the ground. He declined to inspect the property. The situation has not changed and I am concerned about the rats. What other options do we have? Is there another agency we can contact?

Polk County Oregon

1 Response

According to this Extension article, rats usually find food and habitat on more than one property: https://today.oregonstate.edu/news/tips-keeping-rats-out-home-and-garden

“There’s a reticence to admitting to seeing rats or talking about them because there’s a fear of public shaming. That works to the rats’ advantage because people aren’t finding cooperative solutions to a collective problem.” Maybe the conversation would be better received if it's focused on working together to reduce food and habitat that attract rats, rather than blaming one neighbor. You could share the article with all your neighbors - not just the one with the holes in the yard - and ask what they can do from the list of recommended actions for removing potential food and habitat. It sounds like your neighbor has physical limitations that may affect his ability to do yard work, but maybe there are other actions he can take that would help. Not leaving out food for pets or wild birds, and sticking to thoroughly enclosed compost bins can make a huge difference.

The presence of holes makes it sound like voles or gophers might be present, and could account for some of the animal activity you were hearing. These are common garden pests but they're not particularly infamous as a potential source of disease the way that rats are. Check out this resource to see if voles runs and holes match what you're seeing, and consider sharing this article with your neighbor so they can learn about how to control these animals: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/pnw627

If talking with your neighbor(s) doesn't resolve the situation, your County code enforcement office is a resource that may help: https://www.co.polk.or.us/cd/code-compliance
Good luck.