RATS! One of the signs of spring around our offices is deciding who gets to give the annual sermon on rats. They’re pretty phenomenal animals—they can swim up to a quarter mile, jump as high as three feet, balance on a telephone wire and survive a fall from a five-story building. In fact, if it wasn’t for that whole unpleasantness about them causing the bubonic plague thing in the 14th century, we might think they were superheroes. But, you wipe out a third of a continent one time, and they never let you hear the end of it.
One of the prime attractions for rats is bird feeders. What the birds drop on the ground can become a buffet for mice and rats. If you see rats in your neighbor’s yard, the best thing to do is to speak to your neighbors, says Mt. Lebanon Public Works Superintendent Rudy Sukal. If your neighbor does not respond, or you notice the problem spreading to your own yard, call the Mt. Lebanon Public Works Department at 412-343-3403. A certified technician will come to check out the problem and offer suggestions on how to make the property less attractive to rats. If necessary, a public works technician will put rat bait in sanitary sewers near your house and return once or twice weekly for updates.
Other tips for keeping the Black Death at bay:
Put a lid on the can when storing garbage, both indoors and outdoors. Have a minimum of one 30-35 gallon lidded container for every two people in the household.
Keep plastic bags inside at night Rats are nocturnal, so never put plastic bags of garbage outside uncovered (or in a the garage) overnight. If you notice small holes chewed in the bags before pickup, you’ve probably have some rent-free boarders.
Check for holes Rats can enter your house through holes in wood, brick, pipe—even the venting for your drier. Once inside, they’ll roam around the infrastructure, chew through wood cabinets and help themselves to food in cardboard or plastic containers.
Store grain products in glass or metal containers This will prevent the critters from nibbling on your rice or pasta. Potatoes and onions are also safest kept in the refrigerator or in metal or glass containers.
Of course, instead of trying to get rid of them, you may be tempted to go the other way, amass them into an army of thousands and unleash them on your enemies, like in Willard. But we recommend you watch the movie before attempting it. That didn’t end well for the title character.
DID YOU DROP SOMETHING? OK, this is a real thing. There is a company that will do a DNA analysis on dog waste to determine which canine it came from. The service is called PooPrints (yick). In order for the initiative to work, it would require every dog in town to submit a DNA sample, which would be kept in a Potential Offender Database, and would also require a Rapid Response Team to deploy into the streets of Mt. Lebanon at a moment’s notice to obtain the offending sample, which would then be analyzed and an appropriate punishment would be assessed and enforced by Pet Waste Tribunals. Or, you could just take a plastic bag with you when you take your dog for a walk, then be sure not to drop the bag into a catchbasin. That way’s probably easier.