Summary: A rat problem can occur due to clutter, be it piles of wood, stacks of newspapers, compost pile or simply a cluttered garage. All those piles give the rats lots of holes to enter and places they can build nests without being easily discovered.
A reader asks: We've recently discovered that there are rats living in our garbage cans. The garbage cans are located in our garage and contain garbage and recycling. The rats have made a path to our compost heap tunneling under a pile of wood and branches pile. If you have any suggestions for us we would greatly appreciate it.
Dear Reader: When you have a rat problem look for clutter. Rats love clutter. It provides them with lots of shelter. The wood and branches need to be cleared away and the compost pile needs to be removed until you have eliminated the rats. Compost piles generate lots of heat and rats will burrow into it for shelter. Compost piles also provide a food source depending upon what you are composting, of course.
Rats eat fresh, clean food. They don't eat spoiled or dirty food. So, every time you throw some food away and leave it accessible to the rats you are teaching them that your garbage cans are a wonderful food source. Lids must fit perfectly tight or the rats will find a way inside.
***image1***The Norway rat is our most common rat. They have litters of 6 to 12 babies and can reproduce several times a year. The young rats reach reproductive maturity after only 8 to 12 weeks. Do the math. If left unchecked you're going to have lots of company soon.
A pest control professional would place weather-proof rodent bait in locked and ground-secured rodent stations around the perimeter of the garage. The bait is highly attractive to the rats and it will kill off the population in short order. If rodent baiting is too risky due to the presence of children and pets, you may wish to try rodent cage traps. This process can be a little pricey because of the cost of live-trap cages. Plus, you need to pre-bait in order to get the rat accustomed to the cage before it will enter it seeking the food bait. Plus, plus, after the rodent is captured it must be euthanized. Not much fun for the average homeowner.
If you have a rat problem my suggestion would be to call a professional!