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Published: Sunday, 10/10/2010

Rats on the move

RATS have been an unwelcome part of urban life for more than 10,000 years. Like cockroaches and bed bugs, they are nearly impossible to eradicate. But there are some things to do, and avoid, that can help.

Road construction, home demolitions, and sewer work are thought to be responsible for recent rat movements in West Toledo. Growing numbers of abandoned and foreclosed buildings in Toledo also are believed to shelter rodent colonies.

Not much can be done about road and sewer work; displaced rodents are a price we pay for progress. But Toledo officials can and should make every effort to secure and maintain abandoned properties, and to ensure that debris is removed quickly from demolition sites.

The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department has baited nearly 200 manhole covers with rat poison. Despite these efforts, though, West Toledoans are reporting rats in their yards and homes, even stealing food from pet dishes. This is troubling now that cold weather is on the way.

But you can make your property less attractive to these furry, long-tailed intruders. Seal small holes in walls, floors, and foundations and around pipes and electrical outlets. Don't leave pet food where rats can get it. Put garbage in proper trash containers and secure the lids.

Use caution about taking rat-killing into your own hands. Don't set traps or lay out poisoned bait morsels where children or pets can get into them.

Never confront a rodent: Although rats don't carry plague - fleas were the plague carriers - they can carry diseases and parasites. And rats will bite when they are frightened.

As long as there are cities, there will be rats. You don't have to share your home with them, but you do need to take care to get rid of them safely.

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