Warm Weather Means More Rats in D.C.

Outdoor activities mean more outdoor trash, food for rats

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    NEWSLETTERS

    More people outside enjoying the weather means more food in the trashcans, and more food means more rat babies. (Published Wednesday, Apr 4, 2012)

    Ski resorts were dry. Cherry blossoms bloomed early. Stink bugs, ticks and mosquitoes threatened to get a head start on the season. All thanks to our unseasonably warm winter.

    Unfortunately it also left us with a rather nasty problem: Rats love the warm weather, too.

    Northwest resident Charles Pratt thinks the rat problem behind his house near New Hampshire and Georgia avenues is as bad as it has ever been.

    “I'm afraid,” he said. “They walk the alley at night.”

    The warm winter was kind of like a 50-course meal for the rats. More people outside enjoying the weather means more food in the trashcans, and more food means more rat babies.

     “I mean, they big,” Pratt said. “The cats can’t even catch ‘em.”

    No matter what you think of the rodents, they're persistent. It seems they’ll eat anything, even gnawing through trashcans for a food fix.

     “It’s just something you gotta deal with if you live in the city,” Kelly Tripp said.

    Mercedes Grovas, who has lived in the city for nine years, said there are so many rats near her Georgetown row house it’s hard to entertain outside.

    “Around 9ish or 10 you can see them crawling in the different square corners of the patio,” she said.

    “This one today was huge,” Jay York said in Georgetown. “He barely fit in the trap. He was really hungry, I guess, because most of him was still out of the trap.”

    Though the rats may seem larger than they have in the past, Gerard Brown of D.C. rodent control said rats generally don't weigh more than one pound but puff up if they feel threatened. The team responds to dozens of calls every month, putting down traps or poison.

    “They can eat a lot of different things from pet food to pet waste to human food,” Brown said.

    Several pest control companies agreed this has been one of their busiest years on record.

    “It’s very bad,” Brown said. “We get calls every day for it.”

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